Category Archives: Poetry

. . . and no, I am not talking about a sewer system or running water!

the privilege of worrying over matters of life
too many on Earth haven’t even heard of
let alone
having ever had a turn
at the luxury of taking them for granted

i have been thinking of those
with utmost attention these days
you have probably guessed one or two
or sensed what has possibly been on my mind

believe me you are not in any riddle-like thrall
i just am convinced
convinced strongly indeed
that none of us need a new news feed
about this world we call ours after all

© hülya n. yılmaz, 5.22.2017

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Filed under Poetry, Weekend Reflections

. . .

the need to withdraw
from the present the future
to be able to let go
the nagging angst
over agonies of the past

three balloons were stashed away to last
color-coded in advance with care
favorites but only for me to bear

Erie was vicious that day
the wind was not letting me be
the leading path all frozen up
turned out to be quite a display
over-the knee-deep snow
escorted me from the side
together they put on a dangerous show
to prolong my long-awaited rite

on my poorly prepped frame
the cold felt like a shower of icicles
oozing through every closed-up pore
each tiny drizzle staked to my life its claim

i had never before realized
i had so many orifices
after a while i simply gave up
trying in vain to hold on to my layers

with two crystallized fingers
i held one balloon at a time
which color came first
did not really matter in the least

my lips continued to renounce
even a mumble of that dreaded word
heart’s tongue however
had bloodied tears to pronounce

none of the balloons went very far
one by one they landed on the shore

quite suitable for the beloved two
who had deceased in that distant land
surrounded by three ancient seas

though it too first hugged naked trees
arriving then on familiar soil
the third was to become
my soul-paralyzing challenge yet
it had to be buried along the dead
for that beloved had made
an indefensible fatal mistake
by time and time again setting ablaze
even the debris determined to survive
from among the resilient remains
of my few rebounding cells still alive

© hülya n. yılmaz, 5.16.2017

winter-icicles-dropsnature-rev[Free Online Image]

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Filed under Impulses, Poetry

. . .

have you ever touched the sun
madness you would say at once
even if you were asked in a dream

yet

its proximity is ecstatically freeing
all-immersing are its rays of light
sheer layers of tulle its cocooning heat
when you leave your shine is as bright

no i am not losing my mind

i should know

for i have touched the sun

furthermore

the sun

touched me

not only did i not die of that incredible conception
but i also returned with firm determination
to shed fear guilt and self-depreciation
along with assumption blame and expectation

Ah!

its proximity was ecstatically freeing
all-immersing were its rays of light
sheer layers of tulle its cocooning heat
when i left my shine was as bright

© hülya n. yılmaz, 5.2.2017

23269-bigthumbnail[Image Credit: Mirific Sun]

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Nazım Hikmet on my mind again . . .

Feeling drained of mental and physical energy while in possession of little to none creativity, one day after the end of yet another hit-by-a-whirlwind-semester I am resorting to my safe haven today: To the incomparable Nazım Hikmet and his poetry . . .

[Free Online Images]

Things I Didn’t Know I Loved

Nazım Hikmet, 1902 – 1963

it’s 1962 March 28th
I’m sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
night is falling
I never knew I liked
night descending like a tired bird on a smoky wet plain
I don’t like
comparing nightfall to a tired bird

I didn’t know I loved the earth
can someone who hasn’t worked the earth love it
I’ve never worked the earth
it must be my only Platonic love

and here I’ve loved rivers all this time
whether motionless like this they curl skirting the hills
European hills crowned with chateaus
or whether stretched out flat as far as the eye can see
I know you can’t wash in the same river even once
I know the river will bring new lights you’ll never see
I know we live slightly longer than a horse but not nearly as long as a crow
I know this has troubled people before
and will trouble those after me
I know all this has been said a thousand times before
and will be said after me

I didn’t know I loved the sky
cloudy or clear
the blue vault Andrei studied on his back at Borodino
in prison I translated both volumes of War and Peace into Turkish
I hear voices
not from the blue vault but from the yard
the guards are beating someone again
I didn’t know I loved trees
bare beeches near Moscow in Peredelkino
they come upon me in winter noble and modest
beeches are Russian the way poplars are Turkish
“the poplars of Izmir
losing their leaves. . .
they call me The Knife. . .
lover like a young tree. . .
I blow stately mansions sky-high”
in the Ilgaz woods in 1920 I tied an embroidered linen handkerchief
to a pine bough for luck

I never knew I loved roads
even the asphalt kind
Vera’s behind the wheel we’re driving from Moscow to the Crimea
Koktebele
formerly “Goktepé ili” in Turkish
the two of us inside a closed box
the world flows past on both sides distant and mute
I was never so close to anyone in my life
bandits stopped me on the red road between Bolu and Geredé
when I was eighteen
apart from my life I didn’t have anything in the wagon they could take
and at eighteen our lives are what we value least
I’ve written this somewhere before
wading through a dark muddy street I’m going to the shadow play
Ramazan night
a paper lantern leading the way
maybe nothing like this ever happened
maybe I read it somewhere an eight-year-old boy
going to the shadow play
Ramazan night in Istanbul holding his grandfather’s hand
his grandfather has on a fez and is wearing the fur coat
with a sable collar over his robe
and there’s a lantern in the servant’s hand
and I can’t contain myself for joy
flowers come to mind for some reason
poppies cactuses jonquils
in the jonquil garden in Kadıköy Istanbul I kissed Marika
fresh almonds on her breath
I was seventeen
my heart on a swing touched the sky
I didn’t know I loved flowers
friends sent me three red carnations in prison

I just remembered the stars
I love them too
whether I’m floored watching them from below
or whether I’m flying at their side

I have some questions for the cosmonauts
were the stars much bigger
did they look like huge jewels on black velvet
or apricots on orange
did you feel proud to get closer to the stars
I saw color photos of the cosmos in Ogonek magazine now don’t
be upset comrades but nonfigurative shall we say or abstract
well some of them looked just like such paintings which is to
say they were terribly figurative and concrete
my heart was in my mouth looking at them
they are our endless desire to grasp things
seeing them I could even think of death and not feel at all sad
I never knew I loved the cosmos

snow flashes in front of my eyes
both heavy wet steady snow and the dry whirling kind
I didn’t know I liked snow

I never knew I loved the sun
even when setting cherry-red as now
in Istanbul too it sometimes sets in postcard colors
but you aren’t about to paint it that way
I didn’t know I loved the sea
except the Sea of Azov
or how much

I didn’t know I loved clouds
whether I’m under or up above them
whether they look like giants or shaggy white beasts

moonlight the falsest the most languid the most petit-bourgeois
strikes me
I like it

I didn’t know I liked rain
whether it falls like a fine net or splatters against the glass my
heart leaves me tangled up in a net or trapped inside a drop
and takes off for uncharted countries I didn’t know I loved
rain but why did I suddenly discover all these passions sitting
by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
is it because I lit my sixth cigarette
one alone could kill me
is it because I’m half dead from thinking about someone back in Moscow
her hair straw-blond eyelashes blue

the train plunges on through the pitch-black night
I never knew I liked the night pitch-black
sparks fly from the engine
I didn’t know I loved sparks
I didn’t know I loved so many things and I had to wait until sixty
to find it out sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
watching the world disappear as if on a journey of no return

19 April 1962
Moscow

Source: Academy of American Poets ~ “From Selected Poetry by Nazim Hikmet. Translation copyright © 1986 by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk. Reprinted by permission of Persea Books, Inc.”

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. . .

missing it terribly
the yet-to-be-tainted
print of the gullible body
kept pure centuries ago
the one that was left behind
on that first day of the first snow

© hülya n. yılmaz, 2.9.2017

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Filed under Impulses, Poetry

167 Poems to Dial Up

Last night, April 14, 2017 there was a groundbreaking event in our small town –the second of its nature in the United States: The grand opening of Telepoem Booth State College, Central Pennsylvania. And the poetry art scene at large owes the expansion of its presence in this exceptional form to the 2017 Viola Award Winner, artist and writer, Elizabeth Hellstern. If you are in the area –downtown State College, that is, stop by Webster’s Bookstore Café. Then simply walk down its stairs, look ahead once on ground level, and be greeted by this public art piece right across the entrance.

In an article, featured in the April 2017 issue of State College Magazine, Steven Deutsch–a local poet and freelance writer and one of the members of The Telepoem Selection Committee offers valuable insight into this “new public art installation” (“Dialing Up Poetry”, 32):

[Quote Start] The Telepoem Booth is a repurposed 1970s rotary dial telephone booth, developed, refurbished, and sent to us by artist and writer Elizabeth Hellstern. When you dial a number, you are connected through a computer to a catalogue of poems, nearly all recorded by the individual poets.

The first Telepoem Booth was showcased at the Festival of Creativity in Mesa, Arizona, in 2016. One currently resides in Flagstaff. Old phone booths have been repurposed as libraries and aquariums in the past, but the conversion to a poem booth is unique to Hellstern. She writes of the idea:

[Sub-quote Start] ‘In the arts we focus on vision, but I’m especially fascinated by touch. To me, touch is a very powerful and intimate sense that requires a one-on-one interaction, unlike sight or sound. It is the first sense. When I was a curator, I began judging beauty by touch as well as sight and I started to explore the concept of haptic experience. As a writer, I pondered the idea of bringing multi-sensory engagement to word. What is the word of art? How can I make words have materiality of object? How can I bring words off the page?

I want words to interact with an audience in a way that is visual and kinesthetic. I want them to feel more intimate and require engagement of the senses. I thought about the forms and objects that have historically helped people to connect to others, forms that were created for moments of intimacy: pay phones and poetry. Combined, these two forms create a whole new experience – the Telepoem Booth’ [Sub-quote End] (Deutsch, 33). [Quote End]

John Ziegler is another name that everyone aware of this newly erected art of ‘touchable’ poetry in State College should know. Inspired by his accidental discovery of the Telepoem Booth in Flagstaff, this local poet together with Hellstern initiated the installation of one in our town.

The Telepoem Selection Committee –consisting also of local poets, judged 327 poems submitted by 86 poets for inclusion in the initial round, as quoted by the TSC chair Sarah Russell in her congratulatory email to those whose submissions were accepted. Deutsch writes the final outcome in the same article cited previously:

[Quote Start] 167 poems by 75 poets were accepted. […] While many of the poets are from the Centre Region, poetry from as far away as Australia is included. For the most part, the individual poets have recorded their poems, so that the voice the listener hears upon dialing up a specific poem will be that of the poet (35). [Quote End]

Today, I feel gratified that two of my poems are among the 167 to dial up and to listen to. The Telepoem Book inside the booth offers a no-nonsense assistance. Poets and poems appear in that directory with their last names under two headings: “Telepoets” and “Genres”, spanning over nineteen genres. I am one of the ‘Telepoets’ whose own voices are heard once the dial-up is complete.

Elizabeth Hellstern: Video (top left) and still picture (top second left)
John Ziegler: Still picture (top center)
[Photo Credit: Self]

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“the breakwater”

foaming from the mouth
the waves drench the sky
it bows down in respect
drops itself closer

de-powered helpless useless
seeking refuge atop the breakwater
anything human-made then gets its turn…

nature’s offsprings
graceful untethered
are enwrapped
in a dance step
we’ll never learn

a duckling
looks out of place at first
but holds sway with ease
over Lake Erie’s vast space
naturally it will find its own kind
i however just sit here and mope behind

©hülya n. yılmaz, 3.9.2017

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