…return to sender…”The Twist”…Nanki-poo…

We have made it to a new year. Perhaps, you, too, have listened, read, heard or overheard how some of us having promised ourselves to do things differently or for the first time; while others among us, having decided not to return to habits of the past. Regardless of how each of us feels about that supposedly clean-cut moment – a.k.a. the annually repeated time of making a “New Year’s resolution”, we get to listen, read, hear or overhear that phrase. My first ever encounter of it occurred immediately after my life in Turkey. I had developed genuine interest to blend in with the back then “in-crowd” of “this year, I will…” with my own resolutions. Soon enough, though, this new attraction became rather cumbersome to me because of one realization: life, for me, had to be happening all year long with its in-between transformations. As you may be guessing right now (and correctly at that), I haven’t lived up to such ambition. But I have at least managed to narrow down my aspiration about living true to myself to manageable steps of change – on physical, mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual levels. 2015’s first opportunity to articulate the peaceful healing at the essence of my being came in the form of three poems I was expected to write for The Year of the Poet – the year-round poetry project I have announced to you last Sunday. Today, I am sharing them with you in the hope that you will like them for one reason or another. Of larger significance to me, however, is their potential of connecting with you in respect to your own “resolutions” – to merely resonate the popular term – on the deeper aspects of your beings. Perhaps, they will trigger in you a memory (or more) that – as in my case – held you hostage for a prolonged period of time, preventing you from life itself. And then, maybe, just maybe, you may achieve your own peaceful healing. One outlived experience at a time.

return to sender

 

it could have taken longer

 

it?

 

realizing what mattered

since there exists no spare…

 

had read heard and overheard it

signaled by others’ times gone by:

‘get your matters in order’

 

dismissed all advice with a flair

as were there only one affair!

 

when illness becomes your teacher,

do you learn to heal with intent?

are you then tempted to be content?

does a resolve enter your thick head

as a liveable opportunity of a stead?

 

several decades – a luxury for the countless

you’ve lived some with multitudes of dreads

others delivered an array of sheer happiness

like a bean counter however, one ever so eager

you filled your over-zealous Comptometer

only with the ills while shrieking woeful thrills

 

remember the summer of 2014

for each millisecond of your remaining time

how those many a love-filled rhyme

bouqueted in festive wreaths

traveled from compassionate hearts

elated to know you collected their care

with no “return to sender” note to bear

 

© hülya n. yılmaz, December 16, 2014

 

 

“The Twist” and Tunç dayım*

 

a pre-natal fascination it must have been

not only for him, for me too, when on my own

lured by the unheard-of piper’s glamorous tune

coveting a First World culture’s tempo-precision

falling into the magic of his feet’s swing-succession

 

1960s, for pity’s sake!

i, a mere wonder-detecting-eyed toddler

he, a tall cool-dancing swift-footed prince

with an affable smile on his handsome face

removing remarks from his balding greyed head

laughing hard at his pants for their bowlegged dent

those “futbolcu bacakları”* are insured, his pride would allege

for a rare high amount, and upon invitation at that!

by whom? we never learned enough to pledge

 

in 1941, awing the world, Chubby Checker gets born

Tunç dayım had thus far been moving fairly along

to witness the year 1960 for an album’s dramatic release

extracting joy from his music-filled youth of disease

“The Twist” had arrived – an all-American song

competing against his magical feet so strong

inside his shiny all-American shoes

 

that year saw in me a toddling and toodling little fire

my often sickly eyes lain on the twists and turns of his legs

leaving me behind in my sick-bed within a safe distance

frequenting his visits in sets of carnaval-colored attire

to balance my weakness with his weakened substance

 

in 1970s, self-centered-to-the-limit was i

the world-is-solely-about-me-all me-i was i

he – sentenced to an early death at birth

danced in grace to his reserved time’s drum

taking me always to a felt-deeply-inside-mirth

at each of my moments of the slightest glum

having lived with us for years when young

an attentive brother to me is what he had become

his selfless love and care had since often been sung

from me for him however, there was not a thing to come

 

he died, we learned afterward – on the stairways to his office

one late night in his attempt to rush to answer a call

 

late 1970s

1980s

1990s

2000 to the present year

the youngest and a most precious darling of the Erguens

gets forgotten

by me

the universe-turns-around-me-i of me

 

then a friend’s public post the other day

lends me a ticket to that now valued past

its stub shouting a valid grist,

“Come on, baby, let’s do the twist!”

Liked.

Shared as well.

In my chamber’s core canal.

 

“Take me by my little hand and go like this.”

Once more. To tell me you forgive me

for forgetting you this long.

Your brother is among us still,

caring for me since you have left.

And i…

have learned,

have finally learned

not to let him slide by

while he is among the living yet.

 

*”dayım” equals “my uncle from the mother’s side” and “futbolcu bacakları” means “legs of a succer player” in Turkish, my native tongue. Crooked legs in men used to receive a light-hearted description while I was growing up in Turkey, succer being the country’s national sport and one that supposedly caused men the less-than-straight look in their lower body. This younger uncle had been a succer player since his very early ages, and always proudly referred to his legs under this common excuse, while he would don a huge sneaky smile for those of his happiest childhood times.

 

© hülya n. yılmaz, December 16, 2014

 

 Nanki-poo

 

a traveling musician was he,

entering the stage in a cheer: “A wand’ring minstrel I!”

this character stunned many a prop of the two-act comic opera,

“The Mikado” or “The Town of Titipu”

each, a tongue twister of some sort

but a brain-teaser, too, for us – the non-Japanese

mikado stands, after all, for the Emperor of Japan

while it represents – online references claim the same:

“the great gate at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto”

no mind-boggling intent is actually there to spend

an age-old tradition of respect is merely in to maintain

when addressing nobility, that is…

where, then, do i come in?

let me make the attempt to explain:

 

Nanki-poo speaks of his father as the “Brutus of his race”

the world-renowned assassin of Caesar

for the Mikado “condemned his own sons to death”

charging them with “treasonous conspiracy”

one act’s revelation of this son’s escape from execution

is, please beware, of no notable importance here

the Mikado’s rise to the throne however, is

along with his lifelong pretense as a “fool”…

why, you ask?

allow me now to get to my final task:

 

we each seek a safe space in our memories, as i believe

an alternative reality to help us avoid self-destruction

for me to pretend i am a fool is a long-lost obstruction

besides…

no seat of any significance ever meant anything to me

so…

it’s not the opera’s mikado i can relate to

or ever do

the daughter, i have in mind instead

one he had only from afar

she betrayed her own paternal kin

no conspiracy was there to wrongfully pin

she thought him the fool her entire life through

though to him she was the brightest shining star

one who refused his admiration, for she was dead set

but…

now that he reached a most fragile age

would declare herself a saboteur of notorious fame

having always received either love or more of the same

without ever having given in return anything without rage

who today remains in hopeful despair and desperation as well

for her homecoming not to be too late to cast anew its desired spell

 

© hülya n. yılmaz, December 16, 2014

 

 

 

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