A BRIEF NOTE TO THE BAG LADY, MA SISTER
Yusuf Eradam
to Felicia Campbell
(From This Same Sky, ed. Naomi Shihab Nye. New York: Four Winds Press, Macmillan, 1994.)

Ma sister, ma sister
Maybe lady maybe not
I’m sorry, I’m sorry for you
But I know it’s not enough
‘Cause I know not enough
Ma sister, no not enough

I’m sitting in a coffee house
Watching TV, waiting
All I know ma sister
You know nothin’ ‘bout me
You dunno nothing’ ‘bout the cold here
Here’s no 5th Avenue
Here’s no Central Park
Here’s no Statue of Liberty
The cold here ma sister
Don’t take place on your TV channels
God knows how many
Here is South-East Asia Minor
Now is winter
The avalanches at -42? C
Are not as minor

First came when I was out to find the doctor
On my way back I couldn’t find
I couldn’t find ma house under the snows
TV news says a second swallowed the whole village
No house is as tall as the twin towers
Here nothing’s new, no york is new york here
I worked and worked all ma life ma sister
Now I have no belongings but here
Here ma sister you can find bags everywhere
Plastic bags, nylon bags, bags made of kilims
I don’t know what to put in them
Maybe my freezing heart, maybe not

I’m watching you here ma sister
Here’s no Brooklyn Bridge
Here’s no bridge ma sister
Soon will be spring
The Flood will sweep the left-overs
Then I will never find ma children
Noah won’t visit us I know
He wouldn’t let me in, ma sister
He’d be disappointed here
‘Cause here’s so many lonely souls
So many women, husbands’n children gone
Ma sister, thank God you have some belongings
Belongings to carry in your bag, you have them
You have them and that makes you a lady
And to the streets yes to the streets maybe
You belong, but maybe not.

Ma sister, ma sister
I’m no lady whether I have a bag or not
Here is no lady, no lady am I
I’m in a coffee house waiting
They haven’t found ma home yet
I’m sitting in a coffee house watching
I’m watching you and your old bag in new york

They tell me they will give me
Lots of money, God knows how money
How money would touch ma identity
They say I will have a new house
I dunno where, they don’t see I lost ma home
They say I will have a TV-set
So many channels, so many other worlds
I’m watching yours now, by a stove
I can touch the stove, I put ma hands on it
Cold metal burns ma hands
I can’t move nowhere, I can’t talk to no one
They’ll find ma house soon
And get ma dark-skinned, emerald-eyed
Emerald-eyed and rosy-cheeked buds out of the snow
Ma sister, the snow is everywhere
Ma sister, how will they do it?

Ma sister, I could do it better
With ma nails ma sister
I could do it better
But they wouldn’t let me, no they wouldn’t let me

Ma sister, I see your life is tough too
In the middle of so much plenty
You are hungry
I don’t remember eating for days
I dunno, I really dunno
I’m watching you here in the avalanche area
Here is South-East Asia Minor, Anatolia, winter
It’s eight to the twenty–first century
I’m watching you on TV ma sister
You’re cold in the streets I see
Your heart may be freezing too, maybe not, dunno

I see, I see ma sister, you have no home
I see, you’re cold and hungry
But still I can’t be sorry enough
I’m sorry ma sister, but I can’t
I can’t be sorry enough.


Yusuf Eradam
Turkey

Note: Kilims are traditional and very beautiful Turkish rugs.

 

 

Bİ DİYECEGİM VARDIR TORBALI HAMFENDİYE !

Gardaşım

Gardaşım, ah gardaşım,
Belki hamfendisindir, belki degil bilmiyem,
İçim eziliy/cigerim yaniy seni görüncü
Bilirim yetmez bu
Bilirim kafi değil
Bir gavedeyim, durmuş bekliyem
Her şeyi biliyem bacım
Sen bBeni bilmiysen
Bura nire bilmiysen
Bilmiysen burdaki soğuğu,
Burda 5. Cadde yoktır
Central Park da yoktır
Özgürlük Heykeli de yoktır
Bacım, burda
Soğuk var bi tek, soğuk var

Sayısını bilmediğin tevizyon ganalların
Göstermez buraları
Burası Güney-Doğu, Güççük Asya
Şimdi gış
Küçümsenmeyecek bir felaket
-42 derecede çığ

Doktor bulmaya çıktıydım
çığ geldiğinde
Dönerken geriye bulamadım
Evimi garlar altında.
Tevizyon diyor ki,
Bir anda yutuverdi
Köyün hepsini, wışş
Burada göğüdelen evler yok
İkiz kuleler ne arar burda
Her şey eski burda, yeni bir yer yok
New York gibisi yok burda
Hayatım boyunca çalıştım durdum bacım
Şimdi hiçbir şeyim yok, ama bura
Torba dolu, plastik, bez torbalar
Laylon torbalar, heybeler
Ne goyem ki içlerine
Donmuş yüregimi mi yoksa?

Sana bakıyem bacım
Burda Brooklyn Köprüsü yok
Burda hiç köprü yok bacım
Yakında bahar gelecek
Sel kalanları silip süpürecek
Asla bulamayacağım çocuklarımı
Nuh uğramaz buraya
Almaz beni gemisine bacım
Hayal gırıklığına uğrar burda,
Bir sürü yalnız ruh yüzünden
Öyle çok insan yok olup gitti ki bacım,
Kadınlar, kocaları, çocuklar
Bacım, iyi ki torbana goyacak bi şeylerin wardır
Çantanda taşıyacak eşyalar
Bu eşyalar senin ve seni
Hamfendi yapan bunlar
Ve caddeler, sokaklar
Onlara aitsin belki kim bilir
Bacım, ah bacım
Ben hamfendi değilim, torbam olsa da, olmasa da
Burda hanfendi yok, ben hamfendi degilim
Bir kahvede bekliyem
Evimi daha bulamadılar
Kahvede oturuyem, sana bakıyem
Sana ve New York’taki senin eski torbana.

Sana çok para vereceyık diyeler
Kim bilir gaç para
Para geri verir mi kimliğimi?
Bana yeni bir ev
Verceğlermiş, kim bilir nerde
Görmüyorlar mı, kaybettim evimi, ocağımı
bana yeni bir tevizyon
vereceklermiş bir sürü kanal,
bir sürü başka dünya
Senin kanallarına bakıyem, sobanın
dibine oturmuşum, sobaya dokunuyem
Ellerimi üstüne koyuyem
Buz gibi demir yakiy ellerimi
Bi yillere gidemem, gimselerinen gonuşamiyem.

Evimi bulurlar yakında
gara gaşlımı, zümrüt gözlümü
Zümrüt gözlümü de gül yanaklımı
Çıkartırlar garın altından
Bacım, ah bacım, her yer kar
Ah bacım nasıl yapacaklar?
Ben kendim yapardım gardaşım.
Dınnahlarımınan gazırdım gardaşım
Bırahmazlar yapem, beni bırakmazlar.

Bacım, goriyem, senin hayatın da zor
Her şey var senin memlekette ama
Sen de açsın
Benim de günlerdir ağzıma
bir lokma girmemiştir
Bilmiyem, essahtan bilmiyem.
Sana bakiyem, burda
Çığ war burda
Bura Güney Doğu Anadolu, gış
Yimbirinci asra sekiz galmış wışş
Seni izliyem bacım
Üşiysen sokaklarda,
Belki senin de yüregin donmaktadır
Kim bilir, nerden biliyem ki,
Göriyem bacım göriyem
Yuvan yoktır, kimin kimsen yoktır
Açsın göriyem, doniysen
Üzüliyem gardaşım üzüliyem de
gusura galma gardaşım,
anca bu gadar üzüliyem.

Çev. Yusuf Eradam

 

 

BRAINSTORMING COLLAGE
Yusuf Eradam

I am alone in Las Vegas in Nazim Hikmet’s “Hello”
To dare to venture myself
I need
a simmer and time
a pen and tea

“Those were the days, we mustn’t forget
Keep the hearts warm in memories...” says
two separate bunny-teeth
and the lower lip cut in two

I am in Breugel’s Hell...
I am Margot, i wish i had met Rene Magritte
Why should my mountains bloom only when i cry?
They could tell me perhaps, the people of Purgatoria

I am passion at dusk, regret at dawn
I am Icarus
The jailor of Musée des Beaux Arts
N’Auden will see me into a poem.

November 1996–9 May 1997,Ankara

 

 

Could Be an Apple Too

Oh God, if I

am

going

to

die,

why

does

this

orange

smell

so

beautifully,

why?

 

 

HARTFORD BLUES
Yusuf Eradam

too large a hotel room
a huge capitol on a hill
very near the train station
living some new history
waiting for Hal expecting
to speak what’s left unspoken
in Izmir, the warm Aegean town
in the cosy silence of the room
charlie parker and Hal
chatting to a D minor

a bird’s strut at the window
in connecticut campus
a squirrel’s surprise
debut before
a walnut tree

too quick emotions
too late auditions of love
too soon is the depart


a hug a smile a warm stare
hartford blues in full flare

May 9, 1992
Ankara-Turkey

(Published in Cardinal Sins, Saginaw, Michigan, 1999, p.8)

 

 

 

MAN IN MANHATTAN
Yusuf Eradam

just listening to
manhattan transfer
in the offbeat of avenues
he let himself out
oh he let himself
out
to transfer his image into
another language beyond the night
acquainted with the night he was
a dew before the frost
the man in manhattan
lost
long before it was
he had just lost the rhythm
oh the rhythm was
just
and so he was
the man in manhattan
tired of listening to the
“big blues in the city”
oh he was tired of hiding
in other rhythms
rhythms of the outside and nobody
nobody would rhyme with him
so into some
cosy
corner beyond the night
he let himself out
just like that
and he was
listening to manhattan
transfer

just jazz...

May 9–24, 1992
Ankara-Turkey

 

 

 

Name Less

I am the track left behind a boat
anchored on the other side of the water
I am as silent as the worn out socks
that fed moths being worn not even once


I am the secret the wind is too lazy even to hit
on a mountain side at the other end of the world
I am bodiless like a moment
on the calender waiting to be circled


I am cleaner than the child inhaling the night
with eyes on the moon and naked feet in the sea
I am the visitor you have welcomed only in your dreams
the moon phospor-essence you would not like to see on your wet feet


I have dropped my rusty anchor and left the sun in the water
because you mistook the night for the day
I am the only vice to be pardoned
I am following my wind to the mountains


I cannot look back you will be frightened
I am following my own track
to the time when I will smoke but no soot
do not touch me if you’re not clean

You’d rather get on this poem
take your calender with you
and come to this country of mine
don’t sit there no-bodiless


Be my moth and consume
or get in my circle
be my body and be consumed.


Jan 24, 1993 (Turkish original)
Feb 24, 1993 (translation into English)

 

 

 

Objects in Mirror

1.

He came from Anatolia thousands of years ago
and embraced a standard American cat in fear
as they dance in the window of the Cage here
with “objects in mirror closer than they appear”

He was in, and could not find the way out of the maze
still Saginaw Blues remains in the maple’s ablaze
and they dance in the window of the Cage
‘cause “objects in mirror are closer than they appear”

He was the guest in a little red house on the prairie
by a road that opens to a rickety rush but he could hear
them dancing in the window of the Cage
knowing “objects in mirror are closer than they appear”

To tell his story of a rude awakening
he shuttled across human borders in pain
as he learned to dance in the window of the Cage
“perhaps,” he said “objects in mirror are closer than they appear”

He buckled up together with the rest of the world
in his word on the brittle wings of the oven bird
they danced and danced in the window of the Cage
as “objects in mirror are closer than they appear”

2.

He listened to the whirligig of his clink
and before he forgot to put the red flag up
he put a poem in the mailbox of his pleasure dome
danced with his wild cat in the window of his Cage
and thrust his body into the solitude of
the dark bleeding night
the only realm he bloomed at

His spinning top and petosky stones in his hands
sweet grass and mandala his regalia
he opened his homeless eagle eyes of cryptic cacti
raining on the tombs of his kind
flooding his own dreams of ore

3.

Now, an object in mirror closer
than it appears he sings his quiet song
from the top of a juniper tree

and looks on at the onlookers
and to the serene melodies of the running river
people dance in the window of the Cage

‘cause “objects in mirror
are closer than they appear"

Nov 11-14, 1999
Saginaw, Michigan

 

 


PLEASE BIRD BIS

woman shut loose
man stuck goose

room table mail
words colors male

window open bird
song praised female

letter man squared
painting woman circled

hearts strong time
love worth dime

questioning previous line
man squared woman described thing
painted squared woman colors
placed painting wall
man opened window
let night in

woman placed safe circled man
letters described man defined belonging
time hearts weak love questioned doubt
insufficient love fear tear
woman opened door
let sun out

dark night colors gone
draught love caught cold
man blamed woman
woman blamed man
man burned mail
woman burned mail

bird flew away

now door shut loose night day
window shut loose waiting
ears awake door
eyes awake window
wishful thinking ruling

"oh bird sweet bird
wish you came again"


May 26-27, 1992
Ankara-Turkey

 

 

Stone for a Sling

...I played

games with child friends whose names i forgot

i was the best at grabbing the five stones off the ground

thanks to those five stones in one hand

i could never ever hold a sling to kill birds...

then i saw life-size cartoons of wars, of massacres, of genocide...

of fingerprints crying out for their owners...

of human beings indifferent to human affliction...

now in my room with birds from all over the world

i play hide-and-seek in poems

hoping to shed light onto lullabies...

hoping not to be

the stone for a sling.

(Published in: The Space Between Our Footsteps:poems and paintings from the Middle East. Selected by Naomi Shihab Nye. New York:Simon and Schuster, 1998:88)
(Also published in: The Flag of Childhood:poems from the middle east. Selected by Naomi Shihab Nye. New York: Aladdin Books, 2002.)

 

 

‘TH’ POEM


“Teeth

marks left

on my bum buddy, your teeth!

You’re hurting me when you’re all over

my body,”

said

Light,

and i said

“it’s all because of you

because you taught me that

the tapering flame would go out

if i pronounced the word

truth

correctly.” I held the flame before my lips

and the Night was the master of

the pronunciation of

bodies as the dark prince of

love

hated

sloth.

 

 

The Joke

Fall is the season, I am amidst falling leaves

Not a single pair of eyes seeing another, they dazzle

Delightful evening flowers on stone-paved streets

The road is never ending, it winds and wanders

The moon is setting, the moon is setting

The stars, the sea and the boat all aflame

The moon is setting, ah the moon is setting

And in my garden a rose’s still smelling

Alas, a rose is still smelling with no shame.

 

 

THE NIGHT SHIFT

If beauty is repulsive
and death delicate
love would still fall short
and frantic dreams
purple butts need fiddle lust


do not moan girl
rosy shadows rust
sing bitter storms
delicious peaches smell
but tongues worship music
so mild, oh so mild
and oh languid goddess
luscious language is a must.


September 2, 1994
Ankara


** produced by the help of the "poetry kit,"(Metropolitan Soho,
New York City, N.Y. 1994)

 

 

WASHING WASHINGTON

early september he went out to walk the capital
in that vast dawn over his image on the ground
one step ahead it was running its idea to
some unknown destination holding onto its own sky
to feel safe on the way to finding another way

adios washington adios the sad tunes
adios flores para los muertos goodbye miss dubois
i will never forget the helpless look in your face
yet i must go ’cause too heavy a burden
they have become your desperately wild eyes

these were the last tears to gush into the streets
off his quietitude and despair subsidized by some
far away soul whose tears were dripping out
of the small white envelope that was very personal
early september he went out to walk the capital


May 9, 1992
Ankara-Turkey


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