The Café Lieman

(Café Lieman, West Terschelling)

At night the fishermen from Urk* would
drink themselves to happiness next door
in the café where they would sing and dance.

A bright and cheerful murmur reached my room
and in a storm, the men would drink till four,
to over voice the hauling wind outside.

Accordion and singing filled the night,
a woman laughed, some breaking glass, a roar
all covered by the turning lighthouse beams.

In such a cheer no fear of mine it seems
would last to keep me from my sleep; therefore
I slept, till all went back on board.

I heard their wooden shoes above the storm
then only hauling wind, the squeaking floor,
a hungry screaming cat, a woman’s cry.

I’ve wondered much of how ‘t would be
to be in such a night once more
and smell the chimney smoke and beer.

* Urk is a former island in the former Zuiderzee, now IJsselmeer, from which the fisherman had a bad reputation of drinking and fighting when away from home.
This poem about the café next door to the house I grew up in (on the left – the one with the stair-roof (?) and the addition in between the café and the older part), was in draft for a long time, I might as well let it out :).


Comments on: "The Café Lieman" (18)

  1. What a lovely insight into your life.

    I am delighted you decided to post it

    Much love

  2. This is a great poem Ina, very atmospheric. I could smell the night if that makes sense!

    I would be glad I was tucked up in bed during the “festivities”. 🙂


    Christine xx

    • Hi Christine, thank you.
      The café had a telephone boot, my father would call us sometimes there from his ship through Scheveningen Radio and then the man from the café would knock on our window to let us know we had a call. The conversation would be odd, every sentence had to end with “over” lol! 🙂

  3. I love this one Ina.
    Though I admit I’d probably be sneaking next door for a drink and a song!

  4. “…over voice the hauling wind outside.” Concept unique and original. Men usually lose the battle against nature, however.

  5. Wow, what a lovely looking home. Nice reflection Ina.

  6. Sometimes it is so good to experience as a child again … through innocence and imagination … and yet through life lived really in the moment too. It is all here in this poem. I loved it!

  7. conchapman said:

    There’s something about fishermen and drinking. Two local jokes:

    Chatham (Massachusetts) is a quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem.

    On Cape Cod in the summer you can fish and drink. In the winter, you can’t fish.

    • 🙂 Hi Con, I commented on your blog same time as you did here. I find that an omen. I think it means I am too much online.
      Fishermen are actually all well provided- with- booze- bar owners without a bar.

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