Rod McKuen


In the port of Amsterdam, where the wild seagulls fly,
there’s a sailor who stands looking out past the sky
And the arch of his back and the thrust of his hip
are as strong and as proud as the prow of a ship.

In the port of Amsterdam, there's a sailor whose face
is as withered and cracked as a cobble-stone* street,
and another whose face is as fair as the Christ
who visits the sailors who rot in the deep.

In the port of Amsterdam, there are sailors in pairs,
whose only adventure's a-climbing upstairs,
just climbing upstairs and descending again,
in houses and hotels from China to Maine.**

In the port of Amsterdam, there is a sailor I'm told
who at 26 years looks withered and old
In the bellies of whores, he spilled out his youth,
on the long run to nowhere in search of the truth.

In the port of Amsterdam, there’s a one-legged man,
who used to go sailing but no longer can
His tales of the sea grow wilder each year,
as his guts sail along on a belly of beer.

He yells to the sailor who's sitting alone:
"For a bottle of beer, I'll follow you home
And we'll find us some women who smell like the sea,
a blond one for you and a black one for me!"

In the port of Amsterdam, I stood in the dawn,
as accordions died, and the daylight came on
I’ve seen the white faces of sailors go by,
empty and wide like the wide-open sky.

I cried to the God, wherever he be,
who invites the young men to follow the sea,
and leave them alone like a hollowed-out shell,
condemned to burn up on the seashores of hell.

|: |: In the port of Amsterdam :| :| God damn Amsterdam!

*Was immer heute im Wörterbuch stehen mag: In Hamburg nannten wir das "Katzköppe".
**Da ich anderswo schon einigen Unsinn gelesen habe: Das meint einen der kleinen "Neuengland"-Staaten im Nordosten der USA.

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