Who took you to, why did you stay
where the North Sea was higher than the town,
where you knew no one and no one knew you?
Who paved your way to play
the little Dutch boy
all grown up but still
holding a finger in the dike
eight hours a day with overtime
in the rainy seasons?
from New Orleans, where the levees broke
in 2005, and Lake Pontchartrain
poured into the bowl that was my city,
drowning people in their houses,
tough way to learn to plug a dike
while treading water.
Say Amsterdam doesn’t work out,
there’s always a squat
on Manhattan’s Amsterdam Avenue,
where you can bone up on your storm rescue . . .
I must say I’m in a burgeoning field,
but I don’t want to leave the Netherlands.
I like to smoke dope
without fear of being busted.
I listen to the stories the girls tell,
write them up thinking they might fuck for free.
Maybe I’ll even learn a little Dutch.
My father said, and said it more than once,
his family was shirt-tail relations
to Peter Stuyvesant. Would that make me
a candidate to have my own peg leg,
making my way between bodies
negotiating through New Netherlands,
stumping with a cane down Amsterdam Ave. . . .
Something there is in Poor Boy History,
Indentured Servitude, the voyage from
Ulster to the New World already Old,
the benefactors patrolling the docks,
easily distinguishing Scots-Irish
from your ordinary Down in the Mouth.
(15 April 2013)
copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander