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> Bir Türk'ten Şiirler, İNGİLİZCE
Vehbi
mesaj 10 08 2019 - 01:31
İleti #876


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Kafkaesque

I ask myself
what is Kafkaesque,
since such acts, such preposterous thoughts
are no longer in short stories
and long novels written by Kafka himself.
Anything we think we understand
but have no clue of, things that
take heroic proportions
even though we have no idea
what they really are
both supernatural and mysterious
but quite natural are Kafkaesque.

Ergenekon trials in Turkey
were Kafkaesque.
In Vitro Fertilization
is Kafkaesque.
Who would have thought
you could take a woman’s eggs
and couple them in a test tube
with sperm
to create a baby outside of her womb
and put it back
for a natural birth?
Is sex then a natural act?
Would we consider making the doctor
father of every child conceived in a test tube
thereby erasing all objections one might have
to abortions and the fatherless children of thoughtless acts?
When did we pervert the purpose of the sex,
and made it a recreational act?
Or has it always been like that,
Kafkaesque?

I look at gun control.
When has it become a political act,
causing tragedy and stupidity beyond belief
who will benefit,
who will profit from
of such thoughtless killing of these young men,
women and children?
Put the flags half mast,
pray to God again,
say inşallah no more of this or certainly of that
no more, when you fully understand
more is to come, a lot more is in stock.
Is that all there is to it?
If you can make it funny, everyone will read
how a child picked up his father’s AK 47
and erased a troop’s worth.

This poem is Kafkaesque.
It is neither funny nor sad.
No one knows what supernatural act
made me write it,
if it weren’t Kafkaesque!
There is nothing I read in newspapers,
there is nothing I watch on television sets,
there is nothing on the Internet,
in good conscious and language just as straight
one would not call Kafkaesque!
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Vehbi
mesaj 12 08 2019 - 15:57
İleti #877


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Vine

Have you seen a vine
climbing a wall, a wooden pole
or an ancient tree of wisdom?
Of course you have!
But, have you looked at it
as carefully as I have?

A vine doesn’t grow in onesie-twosies,
a vine doesn’t count its limbs.
A vine doesn’t know arithmetic.
A vine doesn’t know the time.
A vine is alive all the time
until somebody cuts its connection
with its mother earth below!

Even then, it dries up with dignity
and stays up looking at the sky.
Its limbs dry up,
its leaves fall
but a vine is always a vine
intermingling the knowledge
it learned before it was born
hanging between its intermingled arms.
It lives forever
because it knows
its destiny
is to climb up to the sun.
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Vehbi
mesaj 16 08 2019 - 06:39
İleti #878


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Dirt

Sometimes, a beautiful flower
raises its head up,
in most unexpected places on earth
out of the plain dirt.

You see them on roadsides, dumps,
after the disasters strike a city or a mountainside.
Love often grows out of dirt,
don’t seek for antiseptic souls,

let the bacteria grow.
Don’t be intimated by someone’s dirty past
who has love in his heart’s core.
Color seeks its contrast.

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Vehbi
mesaj 17 08 2019 - 21:07
İleti #879


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Importance

Ah how important it is
to do unimportant things.
If everybody spent half of his time
to do unimportant things,
the other half would still be filled
with unimportant things.
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Vehbi
mesaj 18 08 2019 - 09:57
İleti #880


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Of Long and Worthless Things

I was translating poems
after a long flight early morning
before sunrise, suddenly she raised her head,
looked at me in a meaningful way and spoke these
two sentences eloquently as if they were a decree of my death:
“You never do important things. Everything you do is as worthless
as it can get!”

I said, “Of course, you are right! ”
(For you never disagree with a woman who is your wife
without reversing the odds of winning an argument to her side!)
“If that is the case,” I said, “Let’s do some important things
that are worth both our while. What you planned for is more
important than all the poetry I can write in my remaining life.”

(Such foolish buffoonery always works, even though
its consequences must be suffered in silent pride.)

First, we walked two miles. Then we found an open pharmacy.
We bought a concoction to protect our faces from the sunlight
(even though sun wasn’t altogether up.)
Then I thought I should ask, “Where are we going my dear wife,
this fine morning in bright and early sunlight?”

She said, “We must eat breakfast first,
then we can decide.” But we had no money left
to fill out stomachs after paying for the expenses
of protecting our faces from the non-existing sunlight!
There was a bank on the sidewalk (but it was closed.)

I pulled some Turkish liras from an ATM. Then we found
a coffee shop that sold simits and good smelling stuff.
We purchased sesame-covered rolls buttered and hot,
and so called ‘water-boereks’ because they were juicy and soft
(even though they were ice cold!)

After eating our breakfast rolls, she said she was tired,
and I said, “So am I, let’s take the metro to go back home.”
She agreed, and we headed towards the metro station
that was nearby. I presented my senior pass,
crossed the entrance gate and proceeded to the train.
Then I looked behind (repeating Orpheus’s shame!)
Oh my God, she was nowhere to be seen!
Instead of cursing my luck and playing the now famous song
Orpheus sang on my iPhone, I remembered a different tune:
‘She didn’t possess the free senior pass that I had acquired
a few years back when I thought I was still young!’

I went back and found the metro guard who was looking
at my face as if he was ready to protect Ankara’s trains
from the enemies of the State, and I whispered
to his ear as if he was my own grandchild: “Son,
I can’t tell you my wife’s age, nor do I have any proof to present,
but please let her go through the gates for the train free of charge,
and promise me you won’t tell anyone in sight
she is over fifty years of age, not one day more, but could be less,
(otherwise, you and I and Eurydice, all three of us will burn in hell!)

He opened the gate, and my wife joined the ride
as if she were a special guest
of the queen of the underworld, Persephone!

We went back home and slept, but even before then, I realized,
(I am sure as you did yourself without being told)
what a privilege it is to be an unimportant man (slightly aged)
doing worthless things by his foolish ways alone (and all by himself!)

Ankara, August 18, 2019




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Vehbi
mesaj 20 08 2019 - 17:46
İleti #881


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The Scythe in the Barbershop

A straight razor travels back and forth
on my cheek in a barbershop,
slow and smooth,
never drawing blood.

I am not prone to daydreaming
but suddenly, a wheat field
appears in the mirror
in a Moscow countryside.

I have never been to Moscow,
yet I know who Anna Karenina is.
But all I see is a young man.
His name is Levin.

They hay undulates with the yellow wind
under a slanted sun.
Poplar trees screen the horizon.
A creek crawls below.

My face is blurred on the mirror
in a dream two thousand years old.

Who is this young man cutting hay,
the nobleman Levin,
who decides to live with his serfs
and learns how to use a scythe?

Levin has no respect for protocol.
His serfs talk to him gently, and he listens
open-eyed, “This job is not one for the bold,
take your time, keep your blade sharp,

don’t rush your work if you don’t want to be hurt,
one strike at a time, take a deep breath,
use your waist, not your backside
and cool yourself in the shade whenever you are tired.”

Levin works from dawn to sunset
mowing acres of his fields of wheat.
A face is not a wheat field.
A razor blade is not a scythe,

yet they both have deadly blades,
They both know how to level vanity and waste,
and eliminate conceit and pride
in simple unpretentious strike.

And when their work is done,
shade and shadow are gone.

One cannot drive a razor blade
on one’s face as if it were a tractor
without drawing blood.
but a scythe will kill the czar.

and every Russian flag will wave one.
Tolstoy’s beautiful narration of Constantin D. Levin
didn’t make it to the movies,
but was carved in my brain,

and reflected on a mirror in a barbershop:
clear and concise. And as all great literature does, it rhymes
with the eternal human touch. Fiction or real:
my soul cannot cope with sentimental junk.
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Vehbi
mesaj 27 08 2019 - 08:43
İleti #882


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A Conversation with Death

I had a conversation with Death
in a dark room I spent
my childhood of a Disneyland
of storm, strife and fight

and plenty of love to add,
in an earlier phase
of what I call ‘my life’.
I said to him, Death,

some die young, some die old,
I passed my middle age,
how long do I have to wait?
He said, “Son, don’t sweat,

in this line that you stand,
one must sometimes wait,
but take heart in your heart of hearts
and rest assured that

in your time during which God has His say,
nothing ever gets left behind
except those things
God wants to keep to Himself.

In the meantime,
I can’t tell you to be content,
but try not to be mean
to plants, animals and men

and treat all female kind with respect.
Get rid of everything you have
as quickly as you can. And take
as many breaths as you can manage to take,

before I take you to my Never Neverland!”





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Vehbi
mesaj 02 09 2019 - 07:03
İleti #883


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Authenticity

What is authenticity? I ask myself.
Authenticity has many firsts
but time cannot remove its effect.
Authenticity is my mother’s face,
my father’s first slap,
a loaf of warm bread,
the first fast I broke when I was eight.

Authenticity is my friends: a Mexican peasant
who bought a dilapidated shack
in Sierra foothills surrounded by acres of yellow hay,
with deer grass undulating under the clear sky
fighting coyote and snake,
while working like a meat-hungry hornet.
(Oh, how he hates yellow jackets whose hives
from his roofline hang!)
He is a devout catholic who does not believe
men came from monkey.
He is as authentic as the eagle
who hunts over his estate!

Honest people who don’t know how to lie with a straight face.
Poor people whose only gain is my friendship.
Rich people who are desperate,
and those whom loneliness drove to crazy acts.

In America, authenticity does not survive its time stamp.
Not that everything is fake, but things keep getting twisted
until one forgets which part was trying to be itself.

A muezzin’s voice is authentic
if he is not blasting the prayer times
into four directions of the compass
from loudspeakers planted on a utility pole,
(not even a minaret)
in a busy residential neighborhood.
There is such a thing as overdoing
which spoils what was once pure and spotless.
Prayer is a part of our conscious
which listens to whispers.
It does not need alarm clocks.

I too believe God is great
but one must be respectful
for those folks who choose not to pray.
Praying is the soul’s privilege,
if it is not voluntary, it will be fake.
As everyone knows who reads holy Quran,
fake prayer is worse than none!
Prayer for prayer’s sake is a farcical
ritual play whose audience can betray.




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Vehbi
mesaj 06 09 2019 - 17:18
İleti #884


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Thus, Spoke Zarathustra--

People are trapped in their gated homes,
in secured neighborhoods,
in long lasting unions with their wives.
They drink wine and eat gourmet meals,
serve multiple courses of delights
even after their stomachs cannot take it more.
They are gracious, no doubt, who wish to please
if not all, at least they try
with good intent and generous desire.
Yet I wonder why my mind drifts
to street dogs who sleep in the shade
and stretch in the sand as long as they want
and move around like ghosts,
accepting little bread and drinking water
from the potholes, never paying back
the luxury’s price.

Why are these dirty jokes, below the belt attacks,
foolhardy bantering and hidden insults,
in the midst of expansive tastes, perfect hosts,
patient wives, beautiful pets,
sculptures at rest, modern art,
indoor architecture with water ponds?
Why are conversations being lost
in ocean’s depth and sea shell’s height,
and why do they sound
as hollow as kettle drums?
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Vehbi
mesaj 09 09 2019 - 06:57
İleti #885


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Prayer of the Wind

A country of extremes between beauty and ugly
between intoxication of the West,
and sleeplessness of the lonely
I am lost here. God help me! Help me!

Yalıkaya, Bodrum, September 9, 2019
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Vehbi
mesaj 13 09 2019 - 09:36
İleti #886


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The Alzheimer’s Spouse

I say, “You can’t smoke when I am around.”
Then, If I get mad at her, she gets madder than hell.
She is angry if I fight with my wife.
She says she never had a fight in her life

between husband and wife!
She never uses an ATM.
What if the machine eats her card?
She never eats dessert before Four O’clock.

I say, “Why not?”
She says, “I have my principles,
that’s why!”
She is a principled woman after all.

Why did not I not register this fact before?
Did she have an unprincipled husband
who learned some principles from her?
Or is she looking for a new husband who can change them all?

I honestly believe she doesn’t care which way is up
and which way is down. It’s all uphill,
and the downside is unknown. Everything
in this world is like her husband’s meaningless pantomime.

Her time is a ritual and her prayer is memories of the past,
and her way of life is to survive the fate’s twilight.





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Vehbi
mesaj 14 09 2019 - 10:09
İleti #887


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Travel

I have not been everywhere
and never wished I had,
but my fate threw me randomly across many continents
where I met people from every color and race.
Yet, I haven’t met a single person in this world
who didn’t like to brag
about the wonderful places he went.

Human desire for travel knows no shame.
Because people think the source
of all their problems is to be stuck in one place,
and having made this correct assumption,
they carry the source of all their problems
all over the world hoping for a change.
Mood change is only temporary my friends,
the source of all of our problems
is the vanity in our minds and brains.

Dreaming about greener pastures is ok.
But they will not make you a happier man.
For no greener pasture can compensate
where you have eaten your childhood hay.
Immigration is not a romantic affair.
It is a tragedy of lost souls
who are force fed the wrong kind of fare.

Having been to many places
and having reached an advance age,
I have a feeling the place I will go next
will just be the same as other places I went.
That being the case, I wish I’d never left
the place I was raised.
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Vehbi
mesaj 15 09 2019 - 13:26
İleti #888


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Appearances

My friend Haluk is an easily excitable man.
He is easily provoked to a colorful monologue
when he is mad. “My house was invaded by ants,”
he says, pointing to the floor.

“So, I went next door to my friend Salih who owns
a hardware store up in the corner that way,
And said, Salih, my friend, give me something bad,
to kill these goddamned ants!

“So, he gave me a piece of this shit to feed them every day. By God,
how the ants loved that stuff. The number of ants on my floor,”
and pointing at the walls, “and everywhere in this place
not only doubled but quadrupled, I swear!

“So, I went back to Salih, and I said, ‘My friend
you are pulling my legs, you may be my friend, but I will take
no fucking jokes from you anymore. Let’s face the facts of a real war,
give me a better weapon for the Mongol warriors invading my home

coming from the depths of the deepest earth. “Salih said,
‘Let them eat that stuff as much they want. They will like it
so much they will take it back to their waiting queen
and give it to her as a peace offering.

They will say, ‘Take this piece and taste it well, my queen
of delights. Look what a delicious morsel we found on Haluk’s floor!
And when the willing queen will take too many bites,
she will soon die due to indigestion and poisonous lust.

The ants will be sad and mourn their queen for thirty days or less,
and when their mourning period ends,
they will never frequent your place, out of deep feelings of guilt,
and the resulting desire for a hunger strike.’

“Indeed, Haluk said, “In two days’ time, their numbers became less,
In four days’ time, they were all gone to their nests.”
Ants were poisoned, Haluk had been fooled, alas!
But no fewer than one ate the crumbs of this delight!




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Vehbi
mesaj 15 09 2019 - 15:08
İleti #889


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MGM Outlet Store in Marmaris

I feel like a Mexican
visiting a Mexican tourist town.
Everyone speaks a foreign language
in broken accents, but I think
English is their first choice.
I hear Russian, German and Kurdish
in words that sound familiar
while I am trying very hard
to be heard in my native tongue!

I haven’t heard Spanish
but they sell t-shirts here with “vamos” prints
for everyone who wants to go to a bull fight!
(They must be holding a language fair
in this MGM Outlet store.)

But their lanes are narrow.
English walks on the left,
Europeans on the right.
Italians and French
always give right of way,
but Germans don’t care.

Russians stumble left or right
depending how drunk they are.
But such trifles are nonsense for a Turk.
A Turk always goes straight on
the Turkish way,
in the middle of the lane heads down
like an eagle watching his prey
trying to speak every bird tongue
known to Suleiman,
and befriending every bird
in his clime.

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Vehbi
mesaj 18 09 2019 - 08:21
İleti #890


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On the Beach

Long before I realized
he was mediocre,
he had decided
I was a fool to come here.

Had I waited too long?
Or, had he decided too soon?
Why does it matter,
after fifty years or more after?

(Life on the beach is a concert
only the fish are silent!)

I Remember the walls listen
and two doubts did not make things certain.
Innocence was seldom,
and ignorance was forgotten.

Give mediocrity a chance,
put your argumentative soul at rest.
Make sure the price of arrogance is shared
amongst the well-balanced people

(and the ghost of my father!)

This is a place for naked people.
Listen to muezzin from the loudspeaker.
Drink your beer.
And swim the blue water.

Marmaris, September 18, 2019
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mesaj 21 09 2019 - 07:50
İleti #891


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Adonis’s Song

If you wait long enough, sun rises
If you wait long enough, sun sets.
If you wait a bit more, you die.
In the meantime,
Ah in the meantime, I keep wondering Why
Gods have been so mean to us?
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Vehbi
mesaj 24 09 2019 - 13:00
İleti #892


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Alcoholism

Newton’s second law says
things move at a constant speed
without accelerating. This law
does not hold for alcoholics.
Even with friction and too many
setbacks to bump across,
alcoholism accelerates
for an unknown reason,
to an accelerated end of its choosing.

You can’t tell an alcoholic to stop
because he doesn’t believe he is ill.
He is having a good time after all
while everyone around him is miserable.
One thing good about alcoholism is that
its kill is quick! One rarely reaches a mature age
to enjoy its full benefit.

You can block an alcoholic by erecting a wall
on his path. To do that you will need to find something
he loves better than alcohol.
If there is no such thing, there is no hope
for an alcoholic.
If he has a loving wife, she might threaten
to leave him
or get a divorce.
In either case, suicide
might be a better alternative!

Don’t feel guilty for an alcoholic,
it is not your doing. No one owns faults made
by nature’s whim!


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Vehbi
mesaj 25 09 2019 - 07:17
İleti #893


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Kalimera

I said, “Kalimera” in Greek.
He said, “Good Morning” in English.
Then, he began talking and talking
as if my English had limits!

This young man, to my surprise,
had only two problems
in this troubled world of ours.
One was his landlord who was an alcoholic.
(I wrote a poem for him.)
The other was about his girlfriends
about whom I kept silent

because when I was his age,
one had only a few problems with one’s girlfriend
and none of them happened to be his concern,
but he had other problems deeper and more profound:
these poor girls didn’t have enough knowledge.
They didn’t know this. They didn’t know that.
They liked this city. They didn’t like that other one
for no other reason than whim.

They were jealous of him on every occasion
using every pretext one could count on:
‘every white cloud under the blue sky of Greece
and every swimming fish under its islands and seas,’
and not one of them was to his liking!

For he had no intent to commit himself at this point.
In short, they all had serious shortcomings.
One had two daughters. For God’s sake, who would care
for someone else’s children? Not him!
How much could an island girl know about living?

This went on and on for quite some time,
when I was thinking, “This young man seems well educated.
He has seen the world. He knows everything.
(I wonder if he writes poems when he is not talking!)
Yet there is one thing he hasn’t yet learned
and I won’t tell him what it is.
For, no doubt, he will discover it on his own:
no shortcomings can be improved upon without commitment.
Besides, if he is lucky enough to find a girl without shortcomings,
she will find him limited, arrogant and selfish.”
In the fullness of time, he will gain this knowledge!

Rhodes, Greece, September 24, 2019

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Vehbi
mesaj 26 09 2019 - 13:18
İleti #894


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Confessions Saint Augustine Style

When mind desires and body won’t obey
you enter the realm of the soul,
where unforgivable sins play
with the unforgiving whole!

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mesaj 28 09 2019 - 06:50
İleti #895


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Translations, translations!

I see signs in front of buildings,
store windows, restaurants and hotels in Marmaris
in Arabic and Russian scripts.
But most of the signs are in English.
Some say, “Empty Room.”
I saw one in front of a public shower:
“No foreigners!”

While dining in a restaurant in Íçmeler
(whose name was Floridian!)
I was thinking of my career
as a translator of poems.
Perhaps, I should commission myself
to translate these signs
to something intelligible.

“Empty room,” means “Vacancy”.
It doesn’t mean they are renting the room
by the hour. Someone looked it up
in the dictionary and saw the words
in Turkish, “Empty room”, and reverse translated it
to English, to “empty” and “room”
(no doubt someone with the command
of the English language in his tongue.)
An apartment is not an empty room
because it is likely to have two rooms.
A hotel room is not empty. It has furniture.
Empty room is a mistranslated poem
vacated by a foreigner
in an empty room.

The shower with the “No Foreigners” sign
stands in front of a hotel that is full of foreigners!
They mean no one can take a shower here
except for the residents.
If all residents are foreigners
a passing Turk has a chance to take a shower here
while reading Emily Dickinson!
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Vehbi
mesaj 04 10 2019 - 05:57
İleti #896


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Of Language of Heart

‘Neden ve Niçin’ is the same
as ‘Ne-den and Ne-için’.

What was it made of? = O Neden yapıldı?
What was it made for? = O Neden yapıldı?

Two WHAT’s don’t make a WHY!
for cause and effect cannot be combined.

Mixing content and cause
in wrong context

makes bad result
that you cannot fix up

Is it wise to ask why
when every question has two why’s?

The answer lies:
every answer has two lies: one is in, one is not out.

A linguistic charm to let one
to state the same in two plausible methods

neither may satisfy a single why, alas!

Never ask for ‘why’ in Turkish
when you can ask for ‘how’

If ‘how’ is not known
‘what’ wouldn’t be known by no one

where words won’t suffice
one must think thrice

for God gave some
one mouth and two tongues.
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Vehbi
mesaj 06 10 2019 - 16:28
İleti #897


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The Wheel

I was looking through a panoramic window
of the windshield of a passenger bus
sitting on the driver’s right hand side on a three-lane highway,
when suddenly a round-shaped object like the wheel of a truck
appeared over the driver’s left-hand side,
as if an experimental self-driving car
was driving itself on the busy highways of Turkey!

It continued in a stable manner self-assuredly, having all the laws
of the classical physics and the mechanics of rounded things on his side
(in case, it breaks the law), and proceeded at a proper speed
on the leftmost lane passing our moving bus without causing any trouble
at all. After passing the small passenger vehicle in front of us,
it decided to lower its speed and change lanes.
Then I saw it continuing its journey ahead of that car.

Just when I was wondering if it would come to a halt
at the next traffic light,
it veered off to the right towards
a line of cars parallel parked along the curbside,
and having once belonged to a truck
it was smitten with cars. It picked a grey one.
It was quick love; the poor thing was stricken to a loveless sight!

Having performed this wondrous deed, it didn’t stop.
It bounced off and after a very brief retreat on the rightmost lane,
it raised itself and continued its journey towards our bus.
Our driver quickly veered to the left and avoided the encounter
that would be the wheel’s second hug.
But I saw it in the rear window following us.
God speed its journey, it quickly disappeared in the rear window!

This incident reminded me of a few folks I met
during the years I traveled around the world
who appeared out of nowhere
and passed me under strange circumstance
on the highways of my life. Some died, others are still alive.
Some hit other cars and are not a pretty sight
looking out of memory’s unclean back window.

Denizli, Turkey, October 5, 2019


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Vehbi
mesaj 09 10 2019 - 07:51
İleti #898


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Impeaching a President

A leadership whose leftovers
are emptied into a trash can
after eating its contents,

and given a full scrubbing
in the kitchen sink
for a fresh startup

is like a cooking pot
left for drying up in a dish rack
upside down.

It doesn’t need a hat
to put on its head
because it needs a clean hat
after straightened up!
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Vehbi
mesaj 11 10 2019 - 12:00
İleti #899


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Nonsense added to more Nonsense

Trump says
Kurds didn’t help
in Normandy or the World War.
He forgets they didn’t die for the rebels
in the American Civil War!
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Vehbi
mesaj 11 10 2019 - 12:09
İleti #900


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Wars

As everyone knows hot air
expands
by pushing its molecules
farther and farther apart
upwards and outward
and cold air flows in
where air has less defense
to create the winds of war.

No one mentions
where people escape
and how people enter
from cold to hot
and how hot flows down
on the poor folk
and how the rich escape
to a greenish yard
full of bones.
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