In a café near Koningsplein

my view on Amsterdam is small,
a side street window,
midday rain on cobble stone,

i dust a smile at the young woman
who surfaces from countless pages,
then sinks again– i

watch her disappear,
pull out my phone & write,

everything and nothing
in a frame that holds me
for a moment, cars and

thousand bikes– you said
none of them
are pumped sufficiently &

you’re right, this is an island
on a changing sea
for half an hour, built

of cappuccino foam,
a gently ringing doorbell & rattling
caisse, a carpet

knotted with
the sound of spoons on porcelaine,
slight movement of warm air

as she dives up &
turns the page

to start another chapter


today at dVerse, inspired by the great Masters, we’re looking at impressionistic writing…would be cool you’d join us when i open the doors at 3pm EST


73 responses to “In a café near Koningsplein

  1. I love how small this poem starts… just a window of Amsterdam; and then unfolds, ending with what seems a much bigger view.

  2. I enjoyed this view of Amsterdam, the girl who surfaces and sinks who appears at the beginning and the end, the way you dust her a smile (love that wording) and the under-inflated tires of bicycles and more. So much happening as you sit and drink cappuccino and observe and record details on your phone (I admire that). Thanks for sharing the view.

  3. smiles…i love writes like this…they are some of my fav to put together…just capturing the moment in a cafe or coffeeshop…i want to know what the girl was reading that kept her so engrossed you know…smiles…the carpet knotted with the sounds of spoons was my fav descriptor….and i want to go swimming in the cappucino sea…ha…

  4. You created a clear impression of your time at the cafe. Made me crave a cup of coffee with lots of foam. Wish I were at a cafe, people watching. One of my favorite things to do.

  5. ‘The dust of a smile’ is so lovely. The imagery all through this is so vivid. The girl, the bikes, the cobblestones, coffee. What a beautifully vibrant capture this is.

  6. Really pretty, one of my favorites of yours – a bit like Seurat little dabs here and there, but actually thicker than that – add in a Braques with all that carpet and foam and spoons. Very lovely and good pacing too. k.

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  8. “A carpet knotted with the sounds of spoons on porcelaine”, what an incredible phrase/image. You deftly painted another wonderful moment of time, one I’d like to slip into 🙂

  9. You even got that “slight movement of warm air” from her turning the page! I just did this in a cafe–Metropolitan Bakery” this morning–I’ll have to look and see if it is a poem. In Rome, Paris, Amsterdam–in the western world–I’ve not been to the rest yet–The cafe is definitely for first impressions!

  10. Your enjambment over stanza-breaks is particularly striking in this piece… lends the Narrative that non-linear, slightly ruffled quality which suits the theme and underlines the tone… nice

  11. I could almost hear the brush strokes as you painted this beautiful picture. I felt as though I were standing behind you, watching you dab and swirl. Awesome write, Claudia!

  12. “…this is an island
    on a changing sea
    for half an hour, built

    of cappuccino foam,
    a gently ringing doorbell & rattling

    I love your analogies and choice of words.I can so envision this moment in this place I’ve never been too. Beautiful, Claudia!

  13. That was a nice picture of a moment away from the hurry of cultural life. We need such moments, to reflect upon the being. It is vital not to get lost.

    Nice. “as she dives up & – turns the page”. Is it a projection you make? 🙂 Such moments are refreshing.

    You write about time, as I see it – about time in the culture, in the city. I have made an epigram about time, in German. I hope you like it. It goes like this,


    Seit, du bist en fein Modell.
    Gehe langsam, gehe schnell –
    bei Natur du bist geschäftig.
    Bei Kultur du bist mehr kräftig.

  14. beautifully enough rendered i may still end up going to this city,

    “i dust a smile at the young woman
    who surfaces from countless pages,
    then sinks again”

    and it was the view of the people there among all the bicycles and doorbell and carpet and ancient ways on waterways that made me feel that…

    truly impressionistic, thank you claudia 😉

  15. Your pen and paper/keyboard & screen is the film on which the camera of your eye develops these shots, I think, Claudia–this really was a snapshot in time, and then photoshopped with the blurrs of mood and color, but made more not less recognizable. I love the image of an ” island/on a changing sea/for half an hour, built/of cappuccino foam..”

  16. beautiful lines here, claudia. esp. liked –

    a carpet
    knotted with
    the sound of spoons on porcelaine.

    I felt like I was there. These “in the moment” poems are by far my favorite ones to read. Thanks for the great prompt!

  17. Love that…”dust a smile”…yes, I could see that. I like how the woman disappears from your reading as you move on to something else. I’d like to try more of this impressionistic writing…you give a wonderful example, Claudia.

  18. built of cappuccino foam, What an image to paint … this is lovely. I myself have dived into a novel at a coffee shop a few times while waiting for my children to finish dance class, etc. Nicely done! I can not only see it, but feel it.

  19. You sure make this look easy. 🙂

    These are my favorite lines:

    “everything and nothing
    in a frame that holds me”

    “you said
    none of them
    are pumped sufficiently”

    of cappuccino foam …
    a carpet
    knotted with
    the sound of spoons on porcelaine”

  20. ‘i dust a smile at the young woman
    who surfaces from countless pages,
    then sinks again …’

    Beautiful ~ one sees that young woman and then you capturing all on your phone ~ ace

  21. “this is an island
    on a changing sea” This line appealed to me for some reason. It can spin into a story for most anyone.

  22. Really nice illustration of impressionist poetry. The moments are ripe with well placed words to allow the imagination of the reader to really cultivate each word, almost by direction, thus creating the vividness of those key words of description in each section. Great job. and the line about writing with the cell phone, that is classic, as it immediately calls attention to “place.” Again. Terrific read. Thanks

  23. Claudia, as I said above (under my other id) I love this poem… this little comment is just to see whether akismet have fixed the spam filter problem…


  24. Girl reading in a cafe in Amsterdam – how you caught the whole mood, with little details “built

    of cappuccino foam” and other things. Great prompt and poem, Claudia.

  25. Beautiful Amsterdam! I like it there! Sitting behind glass windows with hot cappuccino looking out the many bicycles along the canals.. Very typical ,whether in Den Haag,Rotterdam or Amsterdam.Maybe an odd windmill in the background (Most were not working that I remember)


  26. i liked pull out my phone and write, who would have said that years ago. that would not have made sense. you bring up foam too. my poem is called foam i guess there’s something impressionistic about foam.

  27. Oh, but you captured so much from your “side street window”! I love the young woman who, unlike you, surfaces from her book only to dive back in again. Clever contrast. And the bikes…nothing says Amsterdam like bikes (even if they’re not “pumped sufficiently”). Brilliant, ma’am. Thank you. And thank you for the prompt.

  28. In a café near Koningsplein…
    “my view on Amsterdam is small,
    a side street window,
    midday rain on cobble stone,

    i dust a smile at the young woman
    who surfaces from countless pages,
    then sinks again– i…”

    Hi! Claudia…you have captured impressionistic writing very well with your poetic words.
    Tks, for sharing!
    deedee 🙂