A poem by Pia Aliperti, third place winner,
The College Alumni Society Prizes, 2006


Amsterdam

I
Now I've been
and you can bet your falafel I will be back.

II
I am the train arriving from Eindhoven.
I am the vine on your terrace,
I am sterdam
   am stir damn
     hamster'd, man

III
Amsterdam, I feel as though I should be wearing saddle shoes
and knee socks on your bricked streets.
There should be a satchel thrown jauntily
over my shoulder.
I've had my share of bicycle accidents, Amsterdam.
The difficulty lies in deciphering which is the street
and which is the bike path.
Let us try both and I will get back to you later.

IV
The Venice of the north,
your canals are for jumping into naked
and for catching compromising photographs
still trapped in the camera.

V
Dear Mike,
Pocahontas,
School Marm
And the Librarian say hello

I drink a Heineken to you, Amsterdam.

VI
I have to leave this city.
I smoked this morning
before the black tea, and I let the cat
chew on your shoestrings.

VII.
O Amsterdam, she says shaking her head fondly,
You are the paintings in a renovated museum,
The Syndics of the Cloth Makers Guild look surprised we've come to see them
The Potato Eaters pretend not to see us in the dark
The Kitchen Maid just pours milk from a jug.
What have become of the suited men
in black and white photographs
on a restaurant wall,
or the ivy scaling doorways
that you must sweep over your head to enter?
We have not forgotten you.
You are neon and coffeehouses
You are public gardens and grates
You are bushes and benches.
And not only that.
You are funny accents giving
directions to bewildered Americans
who will accept the directions,
but make fun of the accents later
and one of them, the blonde one
squinting underneath her sunglasses, is me.