Category Archives: Poetry

“Human Bridges”

While in prison for 27 years,
Nelson Mandela has recited famously
one poem repeatedly:
“Invictus”, as versed by William Ernest Henley

Henley remained on Earth
between 1849 and 1903.
15 years following his death,
our globe was honored by Mandela’s birth.

One day, countless people woke up
to Mandela’s supposedly silenced voice
and learned about the restrictions and violence
he faced throughout his unjust imprisonment.

The now world-renowned Henley-poem
brought to clear view for humanity
self-empowerment’s vitality:
Mandela was anything but a broken man!

An enemy of war just like Aristide Briand,
Carlos Saavedra-Lamas also made history.
Latin America’s first Nobel Peace Prize
belongs to him. The year was 1936.

Born 19 years later,
I, like the poets in this collection,
did always and continue to heed poetry’s call
with an “unconquerable soul”.

I, like the poets in this collection,
arrived here with determination
to pen poems in deep thought and reflection,
showing our respect for him with dedication.

“Invictus” is being re-visited here.
(Minus any time in jail. Thankfully.)
For, through our poetry of and on peace,
we become “the master of [our] fate”.

Not unlike Mandela,
not unlike Saavedra-Lamas,
“I am the captain of my soul.”
You are it, too. Do you not yet know?


© hülya n. yılmaz, March 15, 2020

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Human Bridges” appeared in the April 2020 issue of The Year of the Poet, a monthly book published by Inner Child Press International.

Related Readings:

Nelson Mandela
William Ernest Henley
Carlos Saavedra Lamas
Aristide Briand


Filed under Poetry, Reflections

“A Special Treat”

A Special Treat

A government office in our precious Ankara . . . it was not yet evident that you had been struck by dementia. We were in the lobby, waiting for one of the employees to call my number. Many people in the waiting hall seemed to be in some kind of a slumber. Business as usual in Turkey: addresses to modify, IDs to renew. And, I had been away for too long. With this process, there was no room left for me to prolong . . .

Your anxiety was probably higher than mine. I still felt like I stayed longer than necessary in that line. Already back then, you were quite fragile. Though, you gave me your usual alert, “Have confidence, my girl”-smile.

Dad, that day, you told me once again how proud you were of me. The fast fading light in your aged eyes mirrored your love for me repeatedly.

When I asked you for my favorite dessert, you didn’t skip a beat. The Café where we both enjoyed it was quite a treat. That afternoon, 2015’s high summer tasted like cool lemonade. A favorite phrase Mom used to formulate.

Sharing a rich serving of Dondurmalı Kazandibi with you was one of the last gifts life has given me of you. Less than a year later, we no longer had you.

© hülya n. yılmaz, 1.30.2020

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

*Dondurma is “ice cream” in Turkish, and Kazandibi is a traditional Turkish dessert that is often eaten with ice cream.

From my upcoming new book of prose poetry, Letter-Poems from a Beloved


Filed under Poetry, Reflections



What a concept for our times!

After all, not perilous are all -isms.

Internationalism . . .
a passionate dedication to world peace . . .
hence, the key to the betterment of humanity.

I dream of the day
when, across the board,
our curricula dons finally
a sweeping devotion to humanism,
an unconditional inclusion-ism.

A dream, not impossible to make true . . .

If only
each of us
were to aspire
to inhale and exhale
as the likes of Henry La Fontaine!

© hülya n. yılmaz, 2.10.2020

*One of my three poems that appeared in the February 2020 issue of The Year of the Poet, a monthly international anthology, published by Inner Child Press International.


Filed under Poetry, Reflections

An Enemy of War

I Too Am an Enemy of War

Love left another note on my nightstand.
This time, dance steps donned the paper.

The god of war had met the end of its life.
“Suicide” was the cause of his much-awaited demise.

The autopsy report did not mince words.
Laughter and joy set the tables at the wake.

© hülya n. yılmaz, February 10, 2020

*One of my three poems that appeared in the March 2020 issue of The Year of the Poet, a monthly international anthology, published by Inner Child Press International.


Filed under Poetry, Reflections

“Mazinin Kalbi Hala Atıyor”

Mazinin Kalbi Hala Atıyor

Ah benim iç acılarım!
Ah benim bir sürü yüreği sızlatan adımlarım!
Neden bu kadar gecikmeli geldiniz kapıma?
Nasıl oldu da bunca zaman
yoklamadınız beni, girerek vicdanıma?

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 24 Ekim 2019


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Atop Snowy Peaks

the urge to breathe uninhibitedly
grows by the minute
to soar over lands, seen and unseen
to embrace loved ones, known and unknown
to dive into streams, rough and gentle
to view the sky from under choppy waves
to build dreams on fine and coarse sands

leaving footprints
atop snowy peaks

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 2.16.2020


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“At the Shore”

the mist of the Mediterranean Sea on my face
surrounds me with my loved ones’ embrace
a childhood spent carefree
early youth and young adulthood?
what a bliss!
all my life stages there
are brightly lit in my memory
with nothing left for me to desire
for fulfilled am i to an ultimate degree

on this day, i keep looking back
at each of those moments, i am taken aback
for the beauties i breathe in vividly prevail
and eagerly, i forge ahead to inhale

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 2.10.2020


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a mother’s and a grandmother’s love on one hand,
romantic love on the other . . .
uncertain is my remaining time
just like every breathing soul
nevertheless, i am nearby yet far away
yearning for them day by day

neglecting my little family
i am not whole, for i am not wholly there
neglecting my beloved
i am not whole, for i am not wholly there

torn in-between

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 2.4.2020


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Haunted, an Old Poem


a life-like statue called my name
a human blue-print of metal
stones filling its insides

for the artist, that was “grief”

depicting a haunted soul
one that grieves over the ongoing wrongs,
those of the past, those yet to come,
the disconnection or death of loved ones
and their accumulated sorrow

escapes me these days
sleep is no longer peaceful
fatigue persists, pays repeated visits
dragging my psyche into a well of quicksand
the more i try to stay afloat
the deeper is my dive
when least expected,
the fall hits me with a vengeance
overwhelming me with all that i am
i then delve into a state of numbness and grieve
over memories that won’t shut up,
over worries that shout out even louder,
over my body’s one-track-minded limitations,
over my incapacitating self-analyses,
over my faint heart’s unending empathy

in vain, i then desperately seek relief
while being haunted by grief

© hülya n. yılmaz, 8.24.2019


Filed under Poetry, Reflections

African Turks

African Turks

The Eunuchs of the Ottoman Empire . . .
I knew about their existence,
yet not much else as far as their lives.
I had my early schooling in Turkey,
yet very little had been taught to us.

Decades later, I learned a name:
Mustafa Olpak, a writer and activist.
“Dana Bayramı” was one tradition
African Turks held on to
in order to remember their history.

They were not at all small in number.
Not that such statistics would matter!
Some were held as slaves,
others endured the fire and ascended
into rank inside a powerful empire.

Their descendants are alive.

Power structures come and go.
That is the call.
One day, they all fall.
What then happens to their oppressed?
Cultural accounts will and do talk.

As a Turkish woman, I am in despair.
For this shame, there is no repair.
Going through all kinds of emotions,
I am desperate to spread the word,
for whatever it is worth.

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 2.1.2020

Related Readings:
~ Mustafa Olpak
~ “Dana Bayramı”: “Afro-Turks living in İzmir celebrated the traditional spring festival Dana Bayramı (“Calf Festival”) until the 1960s. Dana Bayramı has currently been revived among the younger generation of Afro-Turks (Wikipedia).”


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