Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Friday, February 21, 2020

WEP Challenge: Cafe Terrace

Waiting for Van Gogh

Cobblestones make walking tricky as I wander far
from our hotel in this small town
under a dark, star-spangled sky.
I said I would not wait
for you. Your paintings shimmer in my memories,
like sad songs without promise, reminding me
of what we once had, precious friendship diluted
by screaming fights, the drinking, the slide
to oblivion. You laughed when you cut off your ear.
I could not hear your pain then.
Yet you painted again and again
what you saw around you, crows rising from a wheat field
and me.

NOTE: I’m writing this poem while on the road, far from home and with iffy internet on an iPad I don’t quite know how to use . . . which means I can’t post the lovely poster for this February writing challenge from WEP, Write—Edit—Publish.

Please go HERE to read what others have written for Cafe Terrace, inspired by Van Gogh’s painting, Cafe Terrace at Night (1888). Source: Wikipedia.

80 words. Any comments appreciated.


  1. Hi,
    Van Gogh's pain is a constant reminder of how much he suffered. You have captured it well in this short poem. I wonder what he would say if he could see how prominent his paintings have become.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

  2. You've evoked all kinds of emotions in this poem - the misery they both felt. Nicely done!

  3. Heartbreaking. Painfully, completely expressed heart break.

  4. So short and so powerful! You packed so many emotions in just a few words.

  5. Beautiful! Poetry expresses it all.
    Well done, and yay for you. I'm lucky I can make a phone call on my phone. :)

  6. Beth, I love it when people go to so much trouble to post for WEP. On the road. Iffy wifi. Unfamilar technology. Awesome. Love the poem POV from someone who knew van Gogh well. Heartbreaking. Emotional. Evocative.

    Thanks so much for adding your worthy poem to the list, Beth. Our month's entries for CAFE TERRACE would have been the poorer without yours.

  7. Your paintings shimmer in my memories,
    like sad songs without promise..
    Poetry warms the heart. You put in a lot of emotions in those handful of words!

  8. I really liked your choice of the POV - I'm wondering if it's Gauguin, Sien or Rachel? Novel take on the prompt. Well done.

  9. Thank you all for your very kind comments. Alas, I only have access to internet between midnight and 6am for reasons no one can explain. So I shall use my precious time to read your posts — and write every day for I just learned that I can’t save my work on that new iPad unless I’m connected to the internet. Not sure this will work for the next 14 days, but don’t writers persevere? And can’t we fall back on that trusty pen and paper?

  10. Wonderful poem. It's interesting to explore the perspective of one of Van Gogh's friends/lovers and how they must have been affected by his mental state. I like the phrase "sad songs without promise". So poignant.

  11. A wonderful contribution to February's theme, Beth. It touched my heart and reminded me of Van Gogh's tortured life--so tragic, so brief.

  12. This is a wonderful take on the prompt! I can only imagine watching someone you care for struggle as Van Gogh did.You portrayed this person's perspective wonderfully. Well done!

  13. Darkly sentimental. I think van Goghe would have approved :)

  14. Hi Beth - all I can say is ... well done for persevering ... so easy with new technology - to say 'can't cope - will be back' ...

    But your brief contribution just fits wonderfully ... walking on cobbles is never easy - but so sad to read - cheers Hilary

  15. A striking free-verse poem honoring Van Gogh. Nicely written.

  16. It can't have been easy to write a poem on an unfamiliar ipad! I'm so glad you made the effort. Your poem is a delight to read and definitely a tribute to Van Gogh.

  17. Great poem, glad you figured the technology out.

  18. You seemed to have captured a sense of pain with this poem. I wonder, though, if his current fame would be a relief or cause him more pain, since it only came after his death.
    Nicely done.

  19. A touch of artistic magic, Beth. Short, poignant and beautiful with van Gogh images and throughout including his crows. We both have a thing about corvids perhaps - a raven for you, a jackdaw for me, and a crow for the artist in my piece as well.

  20. Well written. Almost magical.

  21. Beautiful. Thank you. Such great imagery and so real...“I could not hear your pain then“...
    Most of all I love „ Your paintings shimmer in my memories,
    like sad songs without promise,“ which is a lovely parallel to van Gogh‘s paint strokes.

  22. Loved the poem. Especially the line „I could not hear your pain then“. So poignant and a great tribute to the pathos of van Gogh‘s life

  23. Lovely and painfully soulful...