Poems for Arjen

Poetry keeps happening. Poetry that would not be possible without Arjen, my dear friend who found a stray transparency activist wandering the streets of London and brought me home.

Of Arjen-inspired poems, I previously blogged a few from our adventures in Lisbon:

As well as this one about what a great listener and friend he is: “Safe Space.” (That painting, too, was inspired by Arjen in—and needs to go home to—Amsterdam, one of these days…)

It also happens that Arjen was the one who helped me pour my first poetry book manuscript into Amazon CreateSpace for publication. As well as making multiple formats of e-book versions for me to put on my website for free. And getting me set up to put the illustrated version on my website, too. It was important to me—that the book be a book, that the art be CreativeCommons and free, that the finished thing be finished and out in all these forms. So it was important to him, and he helped me get it done.

Now my second poetry book is almost done. And it happens that Arjen seems to have gone missing.

This is concerning. I am concerned.

I would like to fix this. But I don’t know what happened, so I’m not sure what to do… More… Tonight. Maybe tomorrow it will become clearer.

In the meantime, I just want to give Arjen some of his other poems. And I’m not sure how, other than to try putting them here… Maybe he is vagabonding and offline, because the world is crazy. Maybe something else is going on or has happened… Because the world is crazy.

Poetry does not help. Except when poetry helps. Here are some more of Arjen’s poems, which I hope actually get to Arjen one of these days, soon.


“Searching in Bodø”


Gray mountaintops like fins slice the Arctic sky.
We retrace your outs and ins,
since you left without saying goodbye.
Did you, too, want to wander further?
To lie down alone forever under a blanket of clouds?

Away, the world’s noise recedes
as you gaze the seas,
as if to tether and untether
boats of breath and mind.

Stay. You own your time,
and so are rich. But could you lend
me a cup of tea and company
sometime and some place calm and free?
Tell me and I’ll meet you there.
The best minds of my generation leach despair.
You do that for me.

When I look again, the mountains are gone in the grip of sky.
Full of more questions than when we came searching—what happened, why?
What sharks rammed your ship?
What do you need? Are you finding it?

Hey! I’m talking to you.
Back in the wild Berlin blue.


“This Is Just To Proclaim”

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.—Robert Frost

That something
is a part
of us all

But something
there was
that loved
a wall
after all.
That something
survived its fall

Something else still
will be
when we think
we’re done resisting
for as long
as we’re existing.
Good too
can be banal.


“Travelers at Rest”

Split, Croatia

The bright orange finches
have followed us out
into the city
and are homesick
for the falls;
try to kill themselves
on the terrace.

The cats, kindly,
are here to assist
in all their mortal coil-shuffling needs.
Also to eat bread,
chase each other, brutally,
and regard dogs with suspicion,
people with apathy.

Geography does not change nature,
human or otherwise.
They, too, are homesick,
but for Egypt, and the days
when people better knew their place.

We are all longing
for somewhere else,
except while in motion.
Here on the road,
we are home.


“Picnic in Vondelpark”

Blurry leaves sway over birch tribes, and they are
how there is no time—only lighter and darker moments,
and the wind that moves their weaving orbits,
and the owl’s anthem announcing that they’re mine.

My throat is growling again at the world.
Although I trust in your goodness in my head
and in my heart, something in my animal softness
needs to be apart, bows its head, kicks at the dust.

Half a forest away from the blanket and your question,
a husky field with chirping frogs infringes. I must walk further.
Nothing is wrong. But I would like to wander now, deep into the dry grasses,
and lie down alone forever under a blanket of clouds.