“Snail Mail”, a Poem

snail mail

tucked in inside various kinds of envelopes,
postcards and personal (or professional) letters
donned their two-option stamp:
domestic or international

they are now on their way
to become a mere memory
of the fast-disappearing past

long before emails won the popularity contest
having gained a steady support
at a record-breaking speed,
snail mail used to be the long-distance venue
with its two-option destination:
domestic or international

if you are my age,
you too have probably seen many a stamp
some, uplifting in their flower prints
or season-specific images;
others, destined to mark awareness
for many a fatal disease

who recalls ever seeing the Duck Stamp
of the U.S. Postal Services in 2020?
i do not, nor did i know about its significance
as far as helping people conserve wildlife
or its contribution to the visibility
of educational programs in the United States,
those that focused solely on largely neglected issues
of environmental and conservation concerns

yet . . . for years – clueless
about the notable mark of the Duck Stamp,
i have been donating to the one leading U.S. organization –
well-known in its efforts in this arena

clueless no more . . .

*”snail mail” is one of the three poems I have contributed for the June 2021 issue of The Year of the Poet published by Inner Child Press, AKA Inner Child Press International.

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“My Beloved Grandfather”

my beloved grandfather

he was still young enough to climb up and down
those multiple steep concrete steps

the most exciting part of his every single day
would announce itself with the arrival of the mailman

after his historically unique private home,
he lived in an upper-most flat of an apartment complex

the mailboxes were right at the entry of the building
down, way down the seemingly unending stairway

he would rush to get to that floor,
hoping that his children or grandchildren
had written to him once more

when i visited him the last time,
he mistook me for my Mom
and my daughter, for me

Alzheimer’s had become his steady companion,
along with the postcards he long ago secured
with his longing and love on his self-made pin board

*”My Beloved Grandfather” is one of my three poems that will appear in the June 2021 issue of The Year of the Poet published by Inner Child Press, AKA Inner Child Press International.

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“Filistin Aklımda”, a Poem in Turkish

I have written the following poem a few years ago in Turkish – my native tongue. The title, “Filistin Aklımda”, translates into English as “Palestine on My Mind”. The inspiration (if one could term it this way under the circumstances back then as well as at the present) was (and continues to be) the silence we keep in the face of unimaginable atrocities with which the helpless, the innocent, the bystander are being erased from the face of the Earth.

Filistin Aklımda

Filistin’in masumları
kalbimden kalemime taşan
tuzlu damlalarla birlik olmuş,
umutsuz bir ümitle haykırıyor.
Sessizce.
Için için.

Biçare!

Insanlık uykuda.
Insanlık unutkan.
Ben dahil.
Insanlık seçici.
Insanlık kendi rahatında.
Ben dahil.

Umursamazlık ve
vurdumduymazlık
bitmek bilmeyen günlerin sloganı.
Çaresizlikler o kadarla da kalmıyor:
Her yeni başlayan günün fütursuz odağı
kendine biçilmiş özellikli konumunda
ilelebet kurulmuş ayrıcalıklı tahtını koruyor.

Acaba, diyorum,
bir dakika olsun sussak.
Susabilsek yani.
Mazlumlardan kendisine yol döşeyen,
postalların asitte bekletilmiş bağcıklarıyla
birer birer eritilip yitenlerin
çığlıklarıni dinlesek.

Dinleyebilsek yani.

Hiç değilse bari sosyal medya hatırına olsun,
dinler gibi yapsak?

Acaba, diyorum.
Sadece acaba . . .

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 18 Eylül 2018

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“Skin Hues”

skin hues

what i am about to say is a no-brainer, for sure
my intent is not to assault your intellect
but rather to express the most obvious
so that none of us attempts to disrespect
the basic reality of our humanity
any longer

we are all born with melanin in our bodies
some of us have more of this natural pigment
while children are blind to such nuances
(unless they are taught at home)
as adults, some of us beg to differ
we then choose to go against the stream,
disrupting the most natural flow:
all for one, one for all
for the sake of harmony within humanity

skin hues, thus, become a means to hate,
to hate unconditionally and passionately
it is only a matter of a short time then
before that hatred turns into sizable inheritances
for generations to come

on account of our outer traits . . .

on account of variations in our pigments . . .

what a badge of shame
to wear as the heritage of one’s family!

“skin hues” is one of my three poem contributions to the April 2021 issue of The Year of the Poet VIII, published by Inner Child Press, AKA Inner Child Press International.

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Diego Rivera: “Religions Are a Form of Collective Neurosis”

“God does not exist”

picture an eminent mural by Diego Rivera, please
Dreams of a Sunday in the Alameda, for instance,
with a sign in the hands of Don Ignacio Ramírez:
“God does not exist”

a public furor ensues
the artist is asked to remove the inscription
he refuses to abide by such demands

the painting goes into a 9-year-long prison
Rivera finally agrees to eliminate
the controversial phrase
but first, he avows his atheist stance
and attests his views on religions:
“a form of collective neurosis”

“God Does Not Exist” is one of my three poem contributions to the May 2021 issue of The Year of the Poet VIII, published by Inner Child Press, AKA Inner Child Press International.

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An Old Poem, Re-visited

edify what remains in me, i beg of you!

fast for three sets of ten-years
breathe in the generous tears
never exhaling in completion . . .

solitude grows into a safest companion
lives pass by and handsomely multiply
the longing still consents to no passersby
but then sensation enters
your frame’s aged wisdom
is filled with its first ever self-belief
your arid cells cry out womanhood – your birthright legacy
in ceaseless trust all wed your blazing passion
silenced since . . .
heeding your throbbing psyche
after having starved it for long
you become one for a blissful while

the instant comes fast to divide

i hear you went on to your theories
opting to instruct a joy for your intellect instead
when did you resolve your time of bidding me farewell was just?
what was to become of your devoted pupil
you left with no respect to her aching pain?

loneliness cannot lie anymore
for i had not been sated before
hence the inconsolable aftermath

i am emptied

© hülya n yılmaz – April 14, 2014 (From the “letter-poems to the beloved” project)

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“The Meeting”, a Poem

The Meeting

a painting by Pablo O’Higgins
catches the eye
it is said to be
representing unity within humanity
the banner on this artwork claims thus:
“Build a free world. No masters. No slaves.”
Signed: “Makers of the world united”

a portrayal of men only . . .
Caucasians only . . .
clothing . . . differentiated by class
mimics and gestures of the few front-view men
stress who has the last word

unity within humanity?
“Makers of the world united”?
i, for one, do not think so!

this visual art is more like an emphasis on hierarchy
amidst various segments of societal authority . . .

*This poem appeared in the April 2021 issue of The Year of the Poet (volume VIII), published by Inner Child Press International. The theme was to compose an ekphrastic poem (as in Ekphrasis Poetry) in view of the painting of focus below by Pablo O’Higgins.

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“Hoping Against Hope”, a Poem

hoping against hope

at the Tunis Carthage airport . . .
as soon as i entered the passenger lounge
“Litany” greeted me and resonated throughout the waiting area
that piece clung on to the once-innocent heart
memories came flashing back to the core of the soul
emotions fought with one another to be the one to lead
sorrow dominated, followed by a sense of anticipation

what if . . . what if all was not lost?

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A Short Story

Pneumonia and Mom

“Mom, Emine Hoca will make the first selections today! Then, all teachers will narrow down the candidates to 3. From those 3, only 1 will get to be the queen, and the other 2 will walk behind her as her maids of honor. I so want to be the queen!”

            “Hülyam, it’s alright if someone else is chosen. Every one of the girls in your class has a chance to be the queen or a maid of honor. And so do you. Your teacher’s task is not easy. You all are so very pretty.”

            “Yes, but, Mom, I really, really want to be the queen! Emine Hoca showed us the drawings of the queen’s costume and what her princesses will wear. The queen’s dress is the most beautiful!”

            “Sweetie, please, keep in mind that you may not be among the 3. That won’t mean you are not as pretty as your classmates. Don’t forget: your teacher can only choose 3 from among you all.”

            “I know, Mom. But I think she will pick me. She loves me so. I am her best student. Whenever I go back to school after being sick, she hugs me and welcomes me back with a big shout to class. You know that!”

            “Yes, darling, I know. But still . . .”

            Without waiting to hear the end of Mom’s sentence, I left for my room merrily. I had my schoolwork yet to finish before I could start my day-dreaming of the day.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

            “MOM! MOOOOOM! I got it!!!! I am the queen!”

            “Oh, Sweetie, I am so happy for you!”

            “Thanks, Mom. I am so excited. You will start sewing my costume right away, right?”

            “Of course, my darling. But first, I have to buy the materials.”

            “Can you do that now? Please!”

            “Once your Dad is home, we will both go out and get everything I need. Okay?”

            “Thanks, Mom!”

Swimming in glee, I went to my room again. Schoolwork could not wait. And “23 Nisan” was just around the corner. What a marvelous day that was going to be! I, the queen of the entire children’s parade, was going to walk in our city’s biggest stadium, 19 Mayıs Stadı that I had seen only in pictures. And on one of our most important national holidays, at that. In front of thousands of people. Oh Ankara, I so love you! Emine Hoca, I so love you!

            As soon as Dad came home from work, Mom left with him to buy the materials for my costume and headwear. I was going to have a tiara on my head!

            Time went by too slowly for me. Whenever Mom had an hour or more to spare from all the household chores she did every day, she was working on my queen outfit. She was coughing a lot. Her face was quite red. Her eyes were red and a little swollen. Her nose was running. After dinner one evening, right before I went to my room to try to sleep early, I noticed Mom resting her head against the top of one of the arm chairs in our sitting room (the formal living room was kept for the many guests who visited my parents quite frequently). She didn’t look like Mom. Her face was even redder; her nose, even more so. Her overall demeanor was sluggish. She did not even notice that I was standing at the doorway looking at her intently.

            “Good night, Mom. I’m going to bed. You know about my exams tomorrow. I will study a bit more and then will go to sleep.”

            “Alright, Sweetie. Don’t be too long. You need your rest. I’ll see you in the morning. Good night, my darling.”

            I couldn’t just leave her there like that. I turned around and asked: “Mom, are you alright? You look different.”

            “I’m fine, Sweetie. Just a little tired, I guess. You go ahead and get a good night’s sleep.”

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

23 Nisan Çocuk Bayramı was a dream come true! The stadium was full. The long walkway in front of the many stations where the parade stopped to receive applauses was dry enough after the heavy rain that had hit the entire city earlier that morning. I felt like what I thought queens would feel every single day: on cloud nine. My costume was perfect. My tiara was perfect. The way Mom made my hair was perfect. Everything was perfect.

            On that Sunday, I overheard Dad talking to Mom in their bedroom. He was trying to convince her to see the doctor asap in the morning. Pneumonia was nothing to mess with.

            Only much later would Dad tell me how sick Mom was throughout the time I kept pushing her to finish my costume. She had been running a high fever all along. It is only after Dad’s confession that I put two and two together to understand why Mom was wearing a heavy coat on a beautiful day in April and had even a scarf around her neck.

Thank you, Mom. Not only for that stunning costume you made for me. But for your selfless love.

*This short story is currently placed in my upcoming new book of prose, Once upon a Time in Turkey . . .

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“Death’s Angst”

Death’s Angst

When the heartbreak after the death of a beloved is too much for my soul to surpass, my memory box yields a surprise: death itself battles a lethal fight against a gregarious force – the steadfast power in us which grows each time we send dear ones onto their so-called “final” flight. Our undying love never leaves their sight. Thus, death bows down before its own unwavering plight.

~ ~ ~

This poem has first appeared in my latest book, Letter-Poems from a Beloved, published on June 21, 2020 by Inner Child Press, AKA Inner Child Press International.

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