Sander de Vaan – Five Poems

SdvSander de Vaan (Amsterdam, 1963) is a Dutch writer. His first poetry collection was published in 2010 (“Plunder de dag” – “Plunder the day”), followed in 2014 by “Bal zoekt man” (“Ball searches man”). His poem ‘Pebble’ was selected for the anthology “Stilte”(“Silence”) by Amnesty International, together with poems of poets like Wislawa Szymborska and Federico García Lorca. De Vaan also published poems in Belgium and Poland, and is co-editor of the Dutch poetry magazine Meander.


I gave her a pebble
because only pebbles
can always be found again.

A pebble
just a tiny little

A kiss, then she throws it away
because only by this
with her my gift will stay.


He slowly shaves the clown off his face.

This here is my heart, she says
and holds a ripe pomegranate up in the air.

A look in her eyes like that Chechen girl
filmed by her butchers in the mountains –
the look of someone who’s rather no one now.

This here it’s me, she whispers
and in the mirror deep he sees her falling

breaking onto the marble, in thousand red.


She closes her eyes
after watching the man
the money in her box
and strikes herself
across the River Wisła
makes flowers wave
jumpy children sing
in a sunny picknick field.

Till bow and strings
suddenly cut the air
bring chilling voices
a cattle train
clouds of ashes
the lonely shoe
of a weeping child.

Then she looks up
sees the man in tears
he coughs
gets some coins
another cough
but she says no sir, no
you’ve already given me
more than enough.


The best snow did not crunch
under my first steps towards school

It did not melt on my tongue either
nor did it hit the head of Peter B.
– terror in the schoolyard

It fell earlier, in the yellow light
of the lamppost at number ten

when I looked through the curtains
saw the adornment for a day
which was still a boy-sweet dream away.


A boasty story
drops from the mouth
of an Armani suit.

A handful of girls
(women now)
hang on his busy agenda.

He smiles, he chuckles – he is.

But does he still remember
that he himself, in the past

He looks aside
sees us, vultures
and shrinks

to well-known proportions.





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