HAYDAR GOES TO ISTANBUL TO BUY A PEACOCK
I know of no city in this world that is less
acquainted with philosophers. Don’t approach her
by railing against the merchants because she’ll parade
in her mirrors. Don’t approach her with gifts,
believe me, there are dreams you shouldn’t pack,
better save the heaviness for the swan back home who was never
fond to be a water-ass. And taps
that drop spills slowly but they don’t cry,
or old walls of water that smell of newspapers.
Newspapers, a thousand years of newspapers, as if the moon
was once a house of cards, erected|
from the dollop of heaven where one
has time enough for that sort of thing.
And tired of the howling of dogs
she came swirling down from heaven.
Man came and began to collect precious
stuff in her belly of which
the Bosphorus, that languid candy ass,
dances off a little lick every year.
There she lies now. Leave your blarkers home because
the hoary wind will rise to take the hounds away:
rather bring food, cats, tea. Haydar,
if you want to buy a peacock here, don’t forget
that your wife like a house of cards
cannot tolerate your faithful eyes.
Rather sit along the quay for a while and watch
at the thousands of ships that like fans
cover the countenance of a sad consort.
ICONS OF THE BIG CITY
An old gramophone blares in the light,
cranked by peanut vendors, shoe shiners, fishermen.
People find balance like vintage acrobats
who still spare each other. They rust away
on crates like pigeons in weathered gutters,
under the randomness of uprooted phrases
their torpor strikes daily.
But it is this transient, glittering decay
that gleams on early evening windows and waves.
Tiredly reeling, merchants know
that at night the coughing lights
of mammoth tankers watching in the distance,
who like blind giants themselves never
enter this mirage, because once upon a time,
in the distant past, shoe shiners
got nightmares of that.
The light of reason cries out,
morning mog sweeps
through the streets. The yellow fever
of pressing taxis shows its
fined countenance to the tiles again.
On the mossy steps of the metro
an old man stands singing in front of a bowl
as if his song is a fishing rod and our ears are
betoethed, covetous fish.
Martijn Benders – both poems are from my debut collection ‘Karavanserai’, Nieuw Amsterdam, 2008.
They will be available as part of my collected works in English named ‘Tract of the Sun’.