ALLEY IN AMSTERDAM

a poem by: Allison Berger

Even though I told my mother it wasn't like on television, it wasn't all red lights and hallucinogens, pot shops and sex shows, sometimes it was-- like the night we saw a man in the alley by our apartment, one hand against the brick wall, the other tightened around himself, pant legs circling his ankles and we thought, at first, he was just peeing but then we knew, there were too many shakes, like abusing the blender at the Baskin-Robbins where I worked my high school summers, jerking the plastic cup up and down and up and down, and although we laughed as we crossed the alley, sped up on our bikes and screamed when didn't need to, I felt bad that I had lied to my mother, I felt bad that I told her this city was clean and lekker, smart and progressive, when it was dirty like the rest, where men take the streets for whatever they wish.