Enter Home Planet News Poetry of Issue #5                        Page 54
                                   
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BLIND SIDE

Did you see the accident?
It must have been a bad one. The bike,
its front wheel ripped off, the rest –
you could still just see it was a woman’s bike –
flung across the road.
A beige and orange breakdown vehicle, its motor running,
and the usual chaos of police and ambulances.

A chemical smell of casualty
staining the bright dew-filled February morning.

She must have been zipping ahead as the lights changed
when the truck turned right, blindsiding her.
I was off to the park on my morning run but
the accident was an iron hand clamped round my heart,
a magnetic field yanking me back. Later,
to the man putting on his blades at the park entrance:
‘it’s no fun cycling in Amsterdam any more.’
His blank expression stops me in my tracks.
Another shouty idiot? He’s off and away.

From: ‘Early Morning’, Grey Suit Editions, London 2017

  Donald Gardner __

___________________________

BALLAD OF THE NIGHTMARE CAFE

My Dutch bank, barely recovered from bankruptcy,
has special offers on its website
for reduced admission to the September exhibition of ‘Van Gogh’.

250 reproductions of the artist’s paintings are on show
at Berlage’s Stock Exchange building on the Damrak,
with some of the paintings, it warns, ‘actually coming to life’.

On the café terrace outside, as favoured customer,
you may sample a glass of pastis,
apparently the one-eared artist’s favourite tipple.

You may enjoy a pelting from the Potato Eaters,
or join in the conversation at the Night Café
where the regulars will tell you in no uncertain argot
what it is that makes this louche bar their favourite haunt.

  Donald Gardner __
AMSTERDAM AUBADE

From our bedroom window in the morning light
Amsterdam’s packed facades look brittle like an array of doll’s houses,
as if cut from cardboard. You’d think
these towering mercantile fronts might fold together like praying hands.
As if these tall narrow houses with their pouting gable-tops –
were so improvised a structure, so delicate and frail,
they might suddenly concertina together
under the late February sun as it climbs resolutely into the sky.
Like a book snapped shut, end of story, end of time.
Journey complete, solution to every issue
in keeping with the Dutch ideal of maakbaarheid
that translates literally as ‘makeable’ and means
that you concentrate on what you can do, not on what you might dream.

But you and I have another take on the possible,
closing the curtains on the brilliant morning
folding inward towards each other like praying hands,
watching each other’s eyes for the signs of pleasure.
and telling each other that there are plenty who would tell us
we have better things to do,
things we ought to be doing in the world of the feasible,
the world of doing and of making,
the world of making do.

All these other things may be better but
none are as good as this.

From: ‘Early Morning’, Grey Suit Editions, London 2017

  Donald Gardner__

IN THE WESTERPARK

On the benches near the
red-brick
former local authority office building,
in the Westerpark,
the winos meet
for beer and conversation

under the bare branches
of an early spring.

Two of them are sitting
at a concrete drum-shaped
picnic table

under the slow quiet rain
of an early morning.

One of them
is propping his head with his hands,
elbows on the table.
Big heavy
thinking cap on,
he broods over the tabletop
as if deciding the right move
on an imaginary chess board.

What is a life?

His companion,
stiff rain-soused jeans and leather jacket,
is leaning away from the table,
holding up his smartphone and
gazing at it at arm’s length.

Perhaps there’s an answer there
if he could only see it.

  Donald Gardner__