View from

Dying in Amsterdam

A bicycle in Amsterdam in 2011. (Erich J. Prince)

“What magnificent coordination. A ballet/on wheels. Impossible, but there it was/day after rainy day, not one collision.”

I went to Amsterdam when I was sixty-two,

old enough to let slip by my first opportunity

in over forty years to smoke marijuana legally.

Did I really want to be stoned in a strange city

in a foreign country where I knew no one?

Probably good dope, too, me in a cloud

wondering where my hotel was.


So I passed on that one, settled for a beer

in a bar across the street, feeling old.


But all these years later, I still remember

downtown streets filled with bicycles,

and almost every bike—I swear—ridden

by a lovely young Hollander, often

holding an open umbrella in one hand

and texting on a cell phone with the other.

What magnificent coordination. A ballet

on wheels. Impossible, but there it was

day after rainy day, not one collision.


I thought then, and still think now,

I wouldn’t mind being knocked down

and ridden over on a street in Amsterdam

by a lovely young woman on a bike.

My definition of Dutch Treat.


W. D. Ehrhart has authored or edited a number of collections of poetry and prose, most recently Thank You for Your Service: Collected Poems and What We Can and Can’t Afford: Essays on Vietnam, Patriotism, and American Life, both from McFarland & Company, Inc. He holds a Ph.D. from University of Wales at Swansea and taught at The Haverford School in Pennsylvania from 2001 to 2019.

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