One Poem by James Bell

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles, Paris and many other places


I know this room
how it can be a room inside a room
one I have known since youth
would hide amongst its bright colours
lock its door against a world
full of delights and disappointments
not knowing the experience isn’t unique
become calm within the neat simplicity
the bare planks of the floor
I still sometimes imagine as a journey
each a path to yet another destination
like Vincent’s own perpetual walk
from Arles on the road to Carcassonne


I went inside this room again in Paris
so real I could have touched it
though only in two dimensions
ached to lie on the comfortable bed
noticed too how others crowded about
saw the room I guessed with similar thoughts
desires they too had held for years
had come along like me and now observed
Vincent’s textures and shapes resolve
his and others’ turmoils into new perspectives


each view of this room now
contains nostalgia and the multiple
interiors I filled it with
never just a chair or a window
some portraits on a wall with
pathways off to other interiors
and where these people went
where they have yet to go or
have already gone – I have never
looked outside that partly open window
preferred always to remain inside
for this is the rooms intent
to measure our limits against exterior ambitions


James Bell is Scottish and now lives in France. He has written and published poetry for twenty years. At present he is at work on his first short story collection.

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