A Bad Poet visits Amsterdam – Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Europe

I arrived at Schiphol airport, Amsterdam, to be received by the Queen and hundreds of Dutch painters and poets.

I was taken in a procession to Dam Square in Central Amsterdam where they had put me up in a five- star hotel with creature comforts – room service, mini-bar, disposable poems… It was wonderful.

I asked the receptionist if he knew of a good vegetarian restaurant in Amsterdam. He said.

"I love meat. I hate vegetarian food. Ask Google."

I asked if I could get some of my clothes laundered.

"No, sorry", he said. "Laundry service is only between 9:00 and 5:00, Monday to Friday."

"Eh?" I inquired, befuddled. "Why can't we have laundry delivered on a Saturday?"

He was horrified and urgently called his colleagues. They jabbered together, looking at me often – laughing, sneering, staring in shock.

"Saturday is a holiday! So is Sunday!" someone finally said.

I stepped outside in disguise to take in the atmosphere. The place was clogged with Dutch individuals wearing wooden clogs, speaking Dutch. There were punks, crazed drummers in the square, stores selling legal cannabis, poets suffering from writer's block and more.

I went to the Poetry Convention Centre by the local efficient trams. The ladies were attractive. I wished them well.

I entered to a thunderous welcome. "The World's Most Horrible Poet has arrived,” screamed the excited masses, in Dutch. Then began marathon poem reading sessions seeking my suggestions, which I gave freely. Certain poets were of questionable quality, writing good, decent and morally correct poems. I corrected them.

Many in the audience were busy smoking drugs, all legal. They said it helped them write better poetry. At 5:00 p.m., a poet stopped in mid-verse and started walking out, as did most of the audience.

On inquiry I found that poets in Amsterdam did not read or write poetry after 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and certainly never on weekends. They have a law for that. The Dutch are very strict. Thirty six hours of work and no more.

I returned to the hotel, strolling down the sides of the picturesque canals in downtown Amsterdam. A certain section was demarcated with red flashing lights. Lost in thought, concerned about the Battle of Dunkirk in 1945, I strolled by. Ill-clad women were standing in windowsills, which had unhealthy red signage and light bulbs (I wondered about the effect of infra-red rays on skin. I was concerned.), asking for help. Many men went to their assistance.

Some women looked at me with pleading eyes and beckoned. I shook my head in sorrow. I could not help at all as I do not speak Dutch. I felt sad that so many women needed help in Amsterdam. I also saw a sign which said, "Live shows". I strolled by, unclear about what they meant, though I saw many Dutch individuals and confused tourists entering the establishment. In any case, my mind was exercised by the diplomatic tensions between Swaziland and South Korea that had rocked the world lately.

I then left Amsterdam and stopped in London en route to Los Angeles where I am to receive yet another award for shockingly bad poetry.

Traveler Article


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