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VELI, Orhan Kanik


I can’t explain

If I cried, could you hear

My voice in my poems,

Could you touch my tears

With your hands?

Before I fell prey to this grief,

I never knew songs were so enchanting

And words so mild.

I know there's a place

Where you can talk about everything;

I feel I'm close to that place,

Yet I can't explain


The Galata Bridge

Hanging around on the Bridge,

Gleefully I watch all of you...

Out there, some of you row backward

Or pick mussels off the buoys;

Some clutch the rudders of barges

Or catch the ropes on the dock,

And the birds in flight, like poems,

And the glittering fish;

Then the ferryboats and floats,

Clouds drifting in the air,

Tugboats with funnels lowered

Glide quickly under the Bridge;

Over there, the whistles blow,

I watch the smoke curl up and go.

But all of you, all of you...

Struggle to make ends meet.

Am I the only one who has fun?

Never mind, maybe some day

I'll write a poem about all of you,

Make a couple of bucks

And get something to eat.


I listen to Istanbul

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed:

First, a light wind blowing

A soft wind swaying

The leaves in the trees,

And far off in the distance

The tinkling cups of the water-seller;

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed.

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed:

Now the birds are passing

In high clamoring flocks,

Nets are pulled in at the fisheries,

A woman's feet graze the water;

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed.

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed:

The cool covered bazaar,

Mahmutpasha, the courtyards

Filled with warbling pigeons,

Hammer sounds from the docks,

Smells of sweat in my lovely Spring wind;

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed.

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed:

An old world drunk in its head,

A waterfront palace with a dark boat shed,

The humming of the lodos ceases inside;

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed.

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed:

A pretty young girl walks by

Chased by taunts, come-ons and curses,

Something falls from my hand—

Surely a rose;

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed.

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed:

A bird is fluttering in your skirts,

Your brow is hot, I know,

Your lips are wet, I know, I know,

A white moon rises behind the pistachio trees—

I understand the pounding of your heart;

I listen to Istanbul, my eyes closed.