Bohemian Boudoir

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I moved house today
the old place I couldn’t stay
Well actually, not really
I just lowered myself, you see?
Closer to the outside world
further away from inside hurt
down into my rabbit’s hole
and deeper in my soul

So now I live ce soir
in my Bohemian Boudoir

I left my place today
twenty steps down and away
a larger place, surely
I just lifted life, you see?
Right into the light of day
with something I had to say
but no one listened to me
or saw my captivity

So now I stay ce soir
in my Bohemian Boudoir

I escaped my tower today
simply had to break away
to another time, more free
lost my feelings, you see?
But then on the street today
she made me laugh an play
came into my rabbit’s hole
and dug herself in my soul

So now we love ce soir
in our Bohemian Boudoir
now we love ce soir
in our Bohemian Boudoir

© 2013 Alice Anna Verheij


featherphoto: ‘Birds of a feather’ (Reims Cathedral, France) © 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

I woke up
Had to weep
Don’t know why
So I wrote a poem
And went back to sleep
For another couple of hours
Killing my wretched nightly doubts
About this unanswered love
My hopes that leave me
Without the words
I wish to say
Or shout
To you

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

I don not want to live in the Netherlands.

My dearest friends in the Netherlands know it and a few even understand it. Most of my Bhutanese and Nepali friends do either not know it and when they do they certainly do not understand it. The fact that I do not want to live (or die) in the Netherlands, the land I was born and raised and have lived for almost all my life.

Jan Jacob Slauerhoff

Many years ago a great Dutch novelist and poet wrote a poem explaining his feelings. His name was Jan Jacob Slauerhoff (1898-1936). A writer who studied medicine, became doctor and started writing. He later enlisted as ships surgeon at a Dutch boat company and made many journeys to the far east. He’d seen China, Japan, Hong Kong and the Dutch Indies (now Indonesia) many times. His confrontation with Asia changed his life to the extend that he in the end detested the land he was born and raised in. Much the same like me at this point in my life. He returned to the Netherlands, went to South America, returned again. To Italy, to Tangier, to South Africa. He got malaria and tuberculosis and returned to the Netherlands in stead of Italy again and died in a nursing home in a small town in the middle of the country at the early age of 38 years. And although he had desired a seamans grave he was cremated at a cemetary where many literarians were either cremated or buried. Jan Jacob Slauerhoff was one of the last true Dutch literary bohemians and was for many years an inspiration for me in both work and life. He still is now I am slowly becoming yet another bohemienne who is detached from her motherland.

When people read and understand his poem ‘I don’t want to live in the Netherlands’ they might very well understand me. So here it is in English translation. Or at least my attempt to that which is by no means easy to do. Underneath the English version one can read the Dutch version which is extremely poetic and intense and shows the feelings of someone touched by travel to the far east and observing the ignorance and stupidity in the Netherlands. If I would have had the talent to write like him it could have been my poem. The rhyme didn’t survive translation, the intentions and intense feelings however did. After all I might be a novelist and a poet but I am from another time and another quality. I wish I would have been able to talk with him sometime.

In the Netherlands I do not want to live,
One has to constantly fulfill ones desires there,
Because of the neighbours,
Who eagerly peep through every hole.
I’d rather go living in the steppe,
Where one is not hindered by his next of kin:
For the crying of my lusts no heron will hasten itself,
No fox will accelerate its pace.

In the Netherlands I do not want to die,
and putrify in wet soil,
On which one never has lived.
I’d rather wander aching
And end up with the nomads.
My compatriots mock me: “He is a failure.”
Yes, that I could not damage them (any)more,
Has in liberty dejected me too often.

In the Netherlands I do not want to live
One always has to strive for something,
Think of the well being of ones fellow-creature,
Only in hiding one is allowed to affront.
But not thrash a face so it clatters,
Just because I don’t like that feature.
Abuse someone without a reason
Testifiess of loose morale.

I do not want to live in narrow houses.
That have thrown uglyness in towns and villages
by the thousands…
There they all walk with a stiff collar
– Not from style, but to show off
That one knows how it should be –
On Sundays to greet each other
Through streets in black parades.

In the Netherlands I do not want to stay,
I would grow fat and stiffen up.
It is too calm there for me, too dignified,
One speaks slowly there, never gets vehement,
And never dances on the feeble rope.
But the defenceless are tormented,
Never is such a lumpish farmers head decapitated,
And never, no never happens a great crime of passion.

J.J. Slauerhoff – translation Alice Verheij © 2012

In Nederland wil ik niet leven,
Men moet er steeds zijn lusten reven,
Ter wille van de goede buren,
Die gretig door elk gaatje gluren.
‘k Ga liever leven in de steppen,
Waar men geen last heeft van zijn naasten:
Om ‘t krijschen van mijn lust zal zich geen reiger reppen,
Geen vos zijn tred verhaasten.

In Nederland wil ik niet sterven,
En in de natte grond bederven
Waarop men nimmer heeft geleefd.
Dan blijf ik liever hunkrend zwerven
En kom terecht bij de nomaden.
Mijn landgenooten smaden mij: ,,Hij is mislukt.”
Ja, dat ik hen niet meer kon schaden,
Heeft mij in vrijheid nog te vaak bedrukt.

In Nederland wil ik niet leven,
Men moet er altijd naar iets streven,
Om ‘t welzijn van zijn medemenschen denken.
In het geniep slechts mag men krenken,
Maar niet een facie ranslen dat het knalt,
Alleen omdat die trek mij niet bevalt.
Iemand mishandlen zonder reden
Getuigt van tuchtelooze zeden.

Ik wil niet in die smalle huizen wonen.
Die leelijkheid in steden en in dorpen
Bij duizendtallen heeft geworpen…
Daar loopen allen met een stijve boord
– Uit stijlgevoel niet, om te toonen
Dat men wel weet hoe het behoort –
Des Zondags om elkaar te groeten
De straten door in zwarte stoeten.

In Nederland wil ik niet blijven,
Ik zou dichtgroeien en verstijven.
Het gaat mij daar te kalm, te deftig,
Men spreekt er langzaam, wordt nooit heftig,
En danst nooit op het slappe koord.
Wel worden weerloozen gekweld,
Nooit wordt zoo’n plompe boerenkop gesneld,
En nooit, neen nooit gebeurt een mooie passiemoord.

Half of me in half a home.

The street where half of me lives – Photo © 2012 Alice Verheij

Half of me in half a home


I live in half a home, the other half not being there

with a mind that is gone and wonders for so long

if I walk I’m only half, the rest is on another path

feet trying to go and flee cause it’s there that I should be

the other world pulls strong it does that for so long

to drag me away from this to grounds I so much miss

to a home that’s not here, not there but anywhere

I have no mental home as I’m on a quest, alone

so when we accidentally meet on an occasional street

remember it’s only half of me, the better half hopefully

and when I leave you then, the other has never been

your companion alone, that one was in another home

Alice © 2012

In the dark of night the mind wanders.

For my 1250th post I wrote a poem.
It obviously is about the night, the most beautiful and the most horrendous hours.

In the dark of night the mind wanders.

The night called me but I could not reach her
As if a gulf separated my head from sleep.
Like a gaping depth of sunken thoughts
that grind like slowly turning millstones,
forcefully circulating crushing rest.
A concept that my mind seems no to understand
but what my heart foolishly longs for.

And even though the call gains force
the battle to resist her does not weaken.
No matter how tempting, I lack the strength
to surrender the fight and let myself go
without notice and being unnoticed.
Not strong enough to allow tears to flow
or simply just be unwillingly unhappy.

The night, I hate her for her beauty
and like with every lover I ever had
I cannot live with her taunting embrace.
I never answer her, she’s to dangerous,
because if I would, my head would leave me.
My mind would be dimmed and my voice silenced,
not strong enough to give in to eternal desire
to die in a slow and wordless embrace.

It’s a good thing that some wishes
remain as they are:
im – possible

Alice Anna Verheij © 2012

When I close my eyes.

The rice fields just north west of Damak, Jhapa district, Nepal

When I close my eyes


When I close my eyes

I see paddy fields of rice

Against a stage of blue hazed mountains


Small clusters of leaves

In rhythmic pattern

Growing in square ponds filled with rain


I see oxen and a plough

And hear the man shout

Synchronous with the animals breath


A schoolboy on a bicycle

Slowly crosses my view

From left to right with a youthful smile


The rope in my hands

Of the bucket in the well

Gives me something at least to hold on to


While my mouth tastes

Freshly plucked mango

Mixed with cardamom scented black tea


And your soft hands strike

My arm with the sensual

Brief touch of an unspoken tender love


Alice © 2012

A thousand lines

A thousand
A thousand lines of text I give you
maybe they’re about million words
A thousand stories and poems too
written down for you to be heard
A thousand tales and a song or two
echoing over too long a distance
A thousand kisses saved just for you
delivered all at a single instance
A thousand signs of feelings and fears
some happy, some sad or depressed
A thousand emotions and warm tears
and smiles and laughter for the best
All these words make me humble
Cause it’s not me who writes this stuff
It’s my hearts that frequently stumbles
and it’s my heart dear, that makes love
Alice © 2012

A patch of blue sky.

A patch of blue sky

Though my mind is mostly grey today

there’s this patch of blue sky far away

And even when thoughts are hindering

there’s something distant flickering

When presence has become abstract

it’s a voice by which my heart reacts

Even distance cannot keep us apart

because we share each others heart


Alice © 2012