:: Article

Five Poems

By Gonca Özmen.

Winds Like These

These things happen, winds like these
This autumn balcony calls me

Whatever your hands dispense at night
I gather up my hair and rivers too

Then I go and undress in front of a poem
I kiss a child its name becomes love

Everything is distant from us
When with us, nothing is alone

I accent a little sorrow to this presence

There’s a tree in your hands
I’m looking at a bustling tree in your hands

You sit, eating a peach
Grass is walking, I say, don’t you see

Oppressive rain passes the window
I call out to myself, there’s no reply

O my love, there’s a needle between us
Stitching me to you

Translated by George Messo

The Land Of Mulberry

Come to the land of mulberry
To the remoteness of dwellings

I’ll teach you quiet
And the branches’ concern

I’ll kiss where you’re waning
Where nature wanes

Cross the plain
Come to the land of mulberry
Into the grasses

I’ll make you listen to the storm
To the scream of the storm-god

A long while later
I’ll wait for you again
Beyond a stream

Cross the field
Come closer come
To the mulberry scent

I’ll show you the ants

Translated by Ruth Christie


I read Dante I stripped a man white
A good child I lay down and took stock
My losses great, my gains many, my sins sweet
See how I’m reduced to bushes and brambles

I asked about birds I delved in the forest white
I stripped myself bare and headed out
How great to stop between your shoulder and evening
I looked long at distant mallows

I read Dante I kissed a soldier white
Once like a whole town asleep
I came back the echo of a stone you threw
The world sometimes, sometimes the world is one blood only

I sat then I found a mouth that would be silent
We mixed together forlorn and white
My book, my sacred text, my mixed child
I reek because of you

I read Dante I knocked down a state black

Translated by Ruth Christie and Mel Kenne


I peeled the orange Mustafa
I placed you at my bedside

A bed, look, no wider than a grave
Just like that deep down I’d offered myself

Thin sword, thin blood, slim death
This condemnation I invented myself

Dumma dumma dum in every man a woman

The one romping inside me had black eyes
One, Mustafa, doesn’t call out my name any more

They think this one’s a love poem too, so let them
Their umbrellas are large
They’re not getting wet

These skies must be pulled down Mustafa, pulled down
In people deep down lies their boundlessness

Keep me cool Mustafa
Keep me cool
In being alive lies the word’s being

To return, those children in far off homes

Translated by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne


Take these ratta-tats Memet
Take them to the ratta-tatta man

Take this me Memet
Take this me to the meadows

Do I know what to do with me?
To me, I’m always a seabattle Memet

Take this me to the birds
Drop this me to the poor suburbs

Battling’s a backpack anyway Memet

Besides can a wound get old
Just keep me waiting again on a pillow-bed

Even the apple awaits its time

Just … me in a big old urn…
Deeper even deeper Memet

Just watch what a carnival, the human race

Does the ratta-tatta man
Ever ratta-tat the ratta-tat Memet?

Best if you dump me in with the poor Memet
Take this me, throw this me off the minaret

Translated by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne


Gonca Özmen was born in Burdur (southern Turkey) in 1982. She was awarded with Ali Rıza Ertan Poetry Prize in 1999. Her first poetry book Kuytumda (In My Nook) was published in 2000, winning Orhan Murat Arıburnu Poetry Prize. She won Berna Moran Poetry Prize given by Istanbul University in 2003. Her second book Belki Sessiz (Maybe Quiet) was published in February 2008. She edits the magazine of literary translation Ç.N. (Çevirmenin Notu). Her poems are translated into Spanish, French, English, German, Slovenian and Persian. The Sea Within (Selected Poems, translated by George Messo) was published by Shearsman Books in February 2011. She has been living in Istanbul since 2000.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, January 22nd, 2012.