Category Archives: 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).”


Filed under Poetry, Reflections

“A Dreamer”

each morning,
i open my heart’s window to hope
that, one day, destroyers of life
will cease to be

the two-legged animal species, that is
the other kind does it for survival, after all

fear- and doubt-crafters

you know them as well as i do

the lost souls . . .

every one of them has to go

it is not killing i am talking about
no! it is in our power to take away theirs
silence is complicity
why are we still sitting quietly?
is it not worth for humanity
to not turn a blind eye to their atrocities?

think of it seriously,
as John Lennon once did famously:

“Imagine there’s no countries.
It isn’t hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too.

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace.

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one.
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will be as one.

Imagine no possessions.
I wonder if you can.
No need for greed or hunger.
A brotherhood of man.”

yes! i dream to my heart’s content
yes! i imagine the same at the core of my soul
it really is not hard to do
wouldn’t you like to be a dreamer too?

what have you got to lose?

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 1.5.2020


Filed under Poetry, Reflections

“A Duet with Xue Tao”

A Duet with Xue Tao

Xue Tao:

My soul, conforming to this crescent,
and flying, now chases a gathering of skies.
Its fine light form, against the darkness, fills
and, from all this world of men, its circle can
be seen.

[Xue Tao, “Moon” in The Brocade River Collection]

hülya n. yılmaz:

a gentle wind
lowers itself onto the arid leaf
thirsty for the attar of a new breath
awaiting in patience the first drop
underneath layers of the frozen white

it whispers promises anew
unlocks the box after Pandora leaves

she has been tricked . . .

no ill seeps through this time
the bolt’s ice will not be melting yet
in joyous dance unite hope and smiles
dreams and love recover again

Goethe calls out as if for me:

“Muses, help me with art,
To suffer joy’s pain!”

Ludwig Uhland’s painless joy
cuddles me with a kissing breeze:

“Oh fresh scent, oh new sound!
Now, poor heart, fear not!
Now everything, everything must change.”

[hülya n. yılmaz, “a gentle wind” in Aflame, Memoirs in Verse]


(c) hülya n. yılmaz (October 19, 2019)

This post displays one of my three poems that have been included in the November 2019 issue of The Year of the Poet, published by Inner Child Press International.


Filed under Poetry, Reflections


rivers flow through it
mortal life must be led thus
permanence, a laugh

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 1.8.2020


Filed under Poetry, Reflections

“before you were born”

before you were born

i am not known for mincing my words
you have seen my brutal honesty many a time
whenever it was about the facts of my life
even with confessions difficult to bear
i made sure i spoke each of them to you
in all the details i needed you to hear

so, you already know . . .
as the odd one out
among my marriage-craving friends
of my carefree youth
i had never desired to be a wife
i expected more from life

you also knew,
i had never yearned to be a mother
not because i had no love for children
quite the contrary has been true!
i simply used to think
motherhood was not meant for me

but then, you happened, BirTanem!

(i lived and continue in highest gratitude to live
that incomparable, breathtaking love of and for you
thanks to you, i am living it also
in and with my two little big loves,

oh yes, i do!

four years into my marriage
you, BirTanem, a rarest gem
poured meaning to my being
the Sun woke up and began to shine
water started to run and tasted divine
overjoyed, the air rained on me in a trance
awakened was anew my womanly shrine

to this date
i am great-filled for the fate
that brought me your father
i will be thankful to my destiny
beyond eternity

my Sun,
my water,
my breath,
are one of a kind!


From: Canlarım, My Lifeblood – My newest book of poetry in Turkish and English (a private edition, December 2019)




Filed under Poetry, Reflections

A Rumi-Quote in Three Languages

A timeless spiritual and philosophical mind, Rumi has recently captivated my attention with a yet another meaningful statement. I had run into the quote in its German version, and then translated it into English and Turkish:

“Ich habe viele Menschen gesehen, die keine Kleider an hatten; ich habe auch viele Kleider gesehen, in denen keine Menschen waren.”

“Çok insan gördüm ki, üstlerinde giysi yoktu; çok ta giysi gördüm, içlerinde insan bulunmuyordu.”

“I have seen many people who did not have any clothes on them; I have also seen many a clothing, in which no person was found.”



Filed under Reflections

“Aren’t You Afraid to . . .”

aren’t you afraid to go to those places?

must i fear life?
no, you say?

why, then, should i deprive myself
from experiencing a loving embrace
in countries that enchant countless others
with their people utterly beautiful, inside and out
who despite my lack of their tongue
enwrap me
accept me
show their desire
to understand me

was i afraid to journey there?
of course not! no!
whatever for?
love, after all, is
and will forever be
here for us and with us all!

(c) hülya n. yılmaz
From my latest book, this and that

Background: Before embarking on a 2-month-long trip abroad, I was asked the question that serves as the title of my poem here. My travels were known to include various countries in the Middle East. Stigmas accompanied some dear people who seemed concerned about my safety / well-being in those places.

To order, please go to my Inner Child Press-link at hülya n. yılmaz or the Amazon-link at hülya n. yılmaz


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Filed under Poetry, Reflections