Category Archives: Poetry

“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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“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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“white privilege”

white privilege

whites assume me to be one of their own,
though i am a woman born and raised in Turkey
the melanin in my skin is quite light, you see . . .

my birthplace – geographically speaking,
a Eurasian country, gave me a bubble of safety
life was all about parental and sibling love for me there
my extended family contributed to the gentle joys
of many an unforgettable daily affair

not even once did i have the need to tell anyone that i want to live
i just lived, and was let be

Black Turks / Turkish Blacks?
i had not heard about them much,
other than those who were celebrated on stage;
theater actors / actresses and ballet dancers, that is
a true fan of Black musicians i was in my teenage-years

nothing substantial was to be found
in those school books of Turkey’s yesteryear
i discovered the centuries-long plight
the Black population endured in the U.S. of A
from a multitude of outside sources in print
and thus, knew way back then
that awareness needed to be raised
for discrimination in any form and shape and to any extent;
not staying silent in the face of injustice and inequality was a must
that none of us should ever allow anyone to willfully pretend
how ‘everything is just fine and dandy’ while racism is blatantly praised

so, a few pieces of information were gathered
as acquired by this “white” person, privileged at birth
who was objectifying the subject right from the start,
incapable of grasping the brutal reality
which routinely hit Blacks people hardest globally

but hey,
i was ready for an intellectual discussion . . .

what a hypocrisy!

following my formal early education,
i perused several volumes on the Ottoman Empire
the horror of what the Black Eunuchs had to survive
turned for me into a recurring nightmare,
haunting me for many a year
most of them were castrated
when they were assigned to provide
private services in the Harem of the Sultans 

i had lived inside a safe bubble, as i said initially
hence, that uncovered segment of the pre-Republic Turkish history
left me in an overpowering shock
such historical accounts had been, after all,
dismissed predominantly all along
it must have been vital to help us, the modern-day Turks,
to continue to proudly gild our precious fame
as a nation of humility,
grace and hospitality . . .

decades later, a name crossed my path:
activist and poet Mustafa Olpak
he was talking about “Dana Bayramı”,
“a traditional Afro-Turkish Spring Festival”
at my advanced age, i had come to hear first-hand finally
how Black people struggled to preserve at least a part of their past
in my otherwise beloved birth-country
some were held as slaves between the 14th and 20th century,
suffering under the Ottoman regime’s fire;
others, as Mr. Olpak said, “ascended into rank” within that empire

as we all are aware,
power structures come and go
that is the call
one day, each of them will fall
the oppressed survive them despite it all,
and cultural accounts in the likes of Mr. Olpak’s,
thankfully, take hold

still . . .

as a “white” woman of Turkey, i am in despair
because for this horrifying shame, there is no repair
going through all kinds of emotions,
i am desperate to spread the word,
for whatever it might be worth

in my concluding thoughts,
i am reminded of a profound Tolstoy-quote:
“I simply want to live; to cause no evil to anyone but myself.”

looking back, way back, as well as viewing my here and now
one dominating fact surrounds my entire life, and it remains intact:
no one ‘caused me any evil but myself’

not even once did i have the need to tell anyone that i want to live
i just lived, and was let be

because i am being seen as “a white”, you see . . .

~ ~ ~
This poem was included in I Want to Live, an international anthology published on March 1st, 2021 by Inner Child Press, AKA Inner Child Press International.

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