Two Poems

by Donna Spruijt-Metz

God in Amsterdam

The Esnoga— see time’s horses
slipping down
YOUR holy walls

the 400-year-old bricks
and glass
Sabbath’s opaque light

filling the women’s balcony
no service now,
just this milky glow

the Torah quiet
in its closed Ark.

‘Hello, God,’ I say. ‘
Come on out.’ I know YOU
are here somewhere. After all

this is YOUR house.
The least YOU can do
is offer me a drink.

‘Have a drink,’
YOU say.

YOU sit down
in the deafening rustle
of YOUR not-robes

Pour good jenever into fine small glasses.
And there we are. Going at it
shot to shot. Finally

someone I can’t drink
under the table.
YOU pour another,

we are jolly, YOU
answer all my questions
about death—OK

about my own death,
about YOUR laws—I mean
are they really YOURS

or did we just make them up?
And peace—why it is so hard
—and kindness—and the dew

on the morning grasses—YOU
keep up a steady stream
of jenever—make sure

I am too drunk
to remember
YOUR answers

And left it in the sky

Even the small boats
are restless—they mermaid
and scoop—they are buttered—
the small boats grip the sheen
with the palms of their
small boat hands—they
are feeling overlaid, the small boats burn
the pages with their small boat
mouths—they have left so much
unsaid—they are, after all, 
only small boats, and afraid
of the flames—afraid of the journey
from paper to ash—the small boats
take out their meticulously kept
notebooks—try to remember
their small boat roots—fling
their small boat windows
wide open, search
for risk. Their small boat hearts
beat light and bang and pleasure.
Their small boat lungs inhale
their own ghosts, the aroma
of blue smoke—relentless
in their trust—conjuring small
boat miracles—turning
on their small boat
with YOU.

DONNA SPRIUJT-METZ is Professor of Psychology and Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California. Her first career was as a classical flutist. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in venues such as the Los Angeles Review, Copper Nickel, RHINO, The Cortland Review, and Poetry Northwest. She has authored two chapbooks—Slippery Surfaces (Finishing Line Press) and And Haunt the World (with Flower Conroy, forthcoming from Ghost City Press). You can find her at

Photo: “Fishing Boats, Oban, Scotland,” by Roy in Manila