Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
kdugan Jan 2013
I am compelled

I do not even obliged to
In my mind I would keep the name as mıh
Eyes grow is growing
I do not know mecburum
You know me the heat.

Preparing trees to fall
Does this city is the old Istanbul
In the dark clouds are parts
One side of the street lamp is
The smell of rain on pavement
I am obliged not you.

Sometimes love is fearful dismally
People are tired all of a sudden one evening later
Prisoners to live in the razor's edge
Sometimes it will break your hands passion
How many lives are removed from a living
What if you knock the door sometimes
Humming in the back of the misery of loneliness

Fatih in a poor playing gramophone
From ancient times to play a Friday
I stop and listen to sound at the beginning of the corner
Should I bring unused gök
Week disaggregated data is available
How do I go What if I keep
I am obliged not you.

Maybe June or mottled blue boy
Ah, you do not know who does not know
Eyes hijack freighter is a desert
Maybe you get on the plane in Yesilkoy
Horripilation is all wet
Maybe you're blind, are in rural precipitancy
Wind will bring bad hair

What a time to live if you think
These wolves have perhaps mess
But without dirtying our hands Ayıpsız
What a time to live if you think
Susan would also start with the name
Order to move inside of the secret sea
No other kind will not be
I am obliged to you never know.




Attila İlhan
Michael R Burch Feb 2020
Ben Sana Mecburum (“You Are Indispensable”)
by Attila Ilhan
translation/interpretation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

You are indispensable; how can you not know
that you’re like nails riveting my brain?
I see your eyes as ever-expanding dimensions.
You are indispensable; how can you not know
that I burn within, at the thought of you?

Trees prepare themselves for autumn;
can this city be our lost Istanbul?
Now clouds disintegrate in the darkness
as the street lights flicker
and the streets reek with rain.
You are indispensable, and yet you are absent ...

Love sometimes seems akin to terror:
a man tires suddenly at nightfall,
of living enslaved to the razor at his neck.
Sometimes he wrings his hands,
expunging other lives from his existence.
Sometimes whichever door he knocks
echoes back only heartache.

A screechy phonograph is playing in Fatih ...
a song about some Friday long ago.
I stop to listen from a vacant corner,
longing to bring you an untouched sky,
but time disintegrates in my hands.
Whatever I do, wherever I go,
you are indispensable, and yet you are absent ...

Are you the blue child of June?
Ah, no one knows you—no one knows!
Your deserted eyes are like distant freighters ...
perhaps you are boarding in Yesilköy?
Are you drenched there, shivering with the rain
that leaves you blind, beset, broken,
with wind-disheveled hair?

Whenever I think of life
seated at the wolves’ table,
shameless, yet without soiling our hands ...
Yes, whenever I think of life,
I begin with your name, defying the silence,
and your secret tides surge within me
making this voyage inevitable.
You are indispensable; how can you not know?

***

Original text:

Ben sana mecburum bilemezsin
Adini mih gibi aklimda tutuyorum
Büyüdükçe büyüyor gözlerin
Ben sana mecburum bilemezsin
Içimi seninle isitiyorum.
Agaçlar sonbahara hazirlaniyor
Bu sehir o eski Istanbul mudur
Karanlikta bulutlar parçalaniyor
Sokak lambalari birden yaniyor
Kaldirimlarda yagmur kokusu
Ben sana mecburum sen yoksun.

Sevmek kimi zaman rezilce korkuludur
Insan bir aksam üstü ansizin yorulur
Tutsak ustura agzinda yasamaktan
Kimi zaman ellerini kirar tutkusu
Bir kaç hayat çikarir yasamasindan
Hangi kapiyi çalsa kimi zaman
Arkasinda yalnizligin hinzir ugultusu

Fatih'te yoksul bir gramofon çaliyor
Eski zamanlardan bir cuma çaliyor
Durup köse basinda deliksiz dinlesem
Sana kullanilmamis bir gök getirsem
Haftalar ellerimde ufalaniyor
Ne yapsam  ne tutsam nereye gitsem
Ben sana mecburum sen yoksun.

Belki haziran  da mavi benekli çocuksun
Ah seni bilmiyor kimseler bilmiyor
Bir silep siziyor issiz gözlerinden
Belki Yesilköy'de uçaga biniyorsun
Bütün islanmissin tüylerin ürperiyor
Belki körsün kirilmissin telas içindesin
Kötü rüzgar saçlarini götürüyor

Ne vakit bir yasamak düsünsem
Bu kurtlar sofrasinda belki zor
Ayipsiz   fakat ellerimizi kirletmeden
Ne vakit bir yasamak düsünsem
Sus deyip adinla basliyorum
Içim sira kimildiyor gizli denizlerin
Hayir baska türlü olmayacak
Ben sana mecburum bilemezsin.

Keywords/Tags: Turkey, Turkish, Attila Ilhan, modern English translation
Michael R Burch Feb 2020
When Pigs Fly
by Michael R. Burch

On the Trail of Tears,
my Cherokee brothers,
why hang your heads?
Why shame your mothers?
Laugh wildly instead!
We will soon be dead.

When we lie in our graves,
let the white-eyes take
the woodlands we loved
for the *** and the rake.
It is better to die
than to live out a lie
in so narrow a sty.

In October 1838 the Cherokees began to walk the "Trail of Tears." Most of them made the thousand mile journey west to Oklahoma on foot. An estimated 4, 000 people, or a quarter of the tribe, died en route. The soldiers "escorting" the Cherokees at bayonet point refused permission for the dead to be buried, threatening to shoot anyone who disobeyed. So the living were forced to carry the corpses of the dead until camp was made for the night. Years after the Cherokees had been rounded up and driven down the Trail of Tears, John G. Burnett reflected on what he and his fellow soldiers had done, saying, "Schoolchildren of today do not know that we are living on lands that were taken from a helpless race at the bayonet point, to satisfy the white man's greed... ****** is ****** and somebody must answer, somebody must explain the streams of blood that flowed in the Indian country... Somebody must explain the four thousand silent graves that mark the trail of the Cherokees to their exile." Keywords/Tags: Cherokee, Native American, Trail of Tears, Ethnic Cleansing, Genocide, ******, Evil, Death, March, Death March, Infanticide, Matricide, Racism, Racist, Discrimination, Violence, Fascism, White Supremacists, Horror, Terror, Terrorism, Greed, Gluttony, Avarice, Lust, ****, mrbpig, mrbpigs



Cherokee Prayer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

As I walk life's trails
imperiled by the raging wind and rain,
grant, O Great Spirit,
that yet I may always
walk like a man.

This prayer makes me think of Native Americans walking the Trail of Tears with far more courage and dignity than their “civilized” abusers.



Native American Prayer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Help us learn the lessons you have left us
in every leaf and rock.



Native American Travelers' Blessing
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let us walk together here
with earth's creatures great and small,
remembering, our footsteps light,
that one wise God created all.



Sioux Vision Quest
by Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota Sioux, circa 1840-1877
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A man must pursue his Vision
as the eagle explores
the sky's deepest blues.



Cherokee Travelers' Blessing I
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I will extract the thorns from your feet.
For yet a little while, we will walk life's sunlit paths together.
I will love you like my own brother, my own blood.
When you are disconsolate, I will wipe the tears from your eyes.
And when you are too sad to live, I will put your aching heart to rest.

Published by Better Than Starbucks and Cherokee Native Americans



Cherokee Travelers' Blessing II
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Happily may you walk
in the paths of the Rainbow.
                  Oh,
and may it always be beautiful before you,
beautiful behind you,
beautiful below you,
beautiful above you,
and beautiful all around you
where in Perfection beauty is finished.

Published by Better Than Starbucks



Cherokee Travelers' Blessing III
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

May Heaven’s warming winds blow gently there,
where you reside,
and may the Great Spirit bless all those you love,
this side of the farthest tide.
And wherever you go,
whether the journey is fast or slow,
may your moccasins leave many cunning footprints in the snow.
And when you look over your shoulder, may you always find the Rainbow.

Published by Better Than Starbucks



Warrior's Confession
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Oh my love, how fair you are—
far brighter than the fairest star!



Cherokee Proverb
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Before you judge
a man for his sins
be sure to trudge
many moons in his moccasins.



Cherokee Prayer
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

As I walk life's trails
imperiled by the raging wind and rain,
grant, O Great Spirit,
that yet I may always
walk like a man.

When I think of this prayer, I think of Native Americans walking the Trail of Tears.



The Receiving of the Flower
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let us sing overflowing with joy
as we observe the Receiving of the Flower.
The lovely maidens beam;
their hearts leap in their *******.

Why?

Because they will soon yield their virginity to the men they love!



The Deflowering
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Remove your clothes;
let down your hair;
become as naked as the day you were born—

virgins!



Prelude to *******
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lay out your most beautiful clothes,
maidens!
The day of happiness has arrived!

Grab your combs, detangle your hair,
adorn your earlobes with gaudy pendants.
Dress in white as becomes maidens ...

Then go, give your lovers the happiness of your laughter!
And all the village will rejoice with you,
for the day of happiness has arrived!



The Flower-Strewn Pool
excerpt from a Mayan love poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You have arrived at last in the woods
where no one can see what you do
at the flower-strewn pool ...
Remove your clothes,
unbraid your hair,
become as you were
when you first arrived here
naked and shameless,
virgins, maidens!



Native American Proverbs

The soul would see no Rainbows if not for the eyes’ tears.
—loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A woman’s highest calling is to help her man unite with the Source.
A man’s highest calling is to help his woman walk the earth unharmed.
—loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.
Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.
—White Elk, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Earthbound
an original poem by Michael R. Burch

Tashunka Witko, better known as Crazy Horse, had a vision of a red-tailed hawk at Sylvan Lake, South Dakota. In his vision he saw himself riding a spirit horse, flying through a storm, as the hawk flew above him, shrieking. When he awoke, a red-tailed hawk was perched near his horse.

Earthbound,
and yet I now fly
through the clouds that are aimlessly drifting ...
so high
that no sound
echoing by
below where the mountains are lifting
the sky
can be heard.

Like a bird,
but not meek,
like a hawk from a distance regarding its prey,
I will shriek,
not a word,
but a screech,
and my terrible clamor will turn them to clay—
the sheep,
the earthbound.



Years after the Cherokees had been rounded up and driven down the Trail of Tears, John G. Burnett reflected on what he and his fellow soldiers had done, saying, "Schoolchildren of today do not know that we are living on lands that were taken from a helpless race at the bayonet point, to satisfy the white man's greed ... ****** is ****** and somebody must answer, somebody must explain the streams of blood that flowed in the Indian country ... Somebody must explain the four thousand silent graves that mark the trail of the Cherokees to their exile."

In the same year, 1830, that Stonewall Jackson consigned Native Americans to the ash-heap of history, Georgia Governor George Gilmer said, "Treaties are expedients by which ignorant, intractable, and savage people are induced ... to yield up what civilized people have the right to possess." By "civilized" he apparently meant people willing to brutally dispossess and **** women and children in order to derive economic benefits for themselves.

These nights bring dreams of Cherokee shamans
whose names are bright verbs and impacted dark nouns,
whose memories are indictments of my pallid flesh . . .
and I hear, as from a great distance,
the cries tortured from their guileless lips, proclaiming
the nature of my mutation.
―Michael R. Burch, from "Mongrel Dreams" (my family is part Cherokee, English and Scottish)

After Jackson was re-elected with an overwhelming majority in 1832, he strenuously pursued his policy of removing Native Americans, even refusing to accept a Supreme Court ruling which invalidated Georgia's planned annexation of Cherokee land. But in the double-dealing logic of the white supremacists, they had to make the illegal resettlement of the Indians appear to be "legal," so a small group of Cherokees were persuaded to sign the "Treaty of New Echota," which swapped Cherokee land for land in the Oklahoma territory. The Cherokee ringleaders of this infamous plot were later assassinated as traitors. (****** was similarly obsessed with the "legalities" of the **** Holocaust; isn't it strange how mass murderers of women and children can seek to justify their crimes?)

Native Americans understood the "circle of life" better than their white oppressors ...

When we sit in the Circle of the People,
we must be responsible because all Creation is related
and the suffering of one is the suffering of all
and the joy of one is the joy of all
and whatever we do affects everything in the universe.
—"Lakota Instructions for Living" by White Buffalo Calf Woman, translated by Michael R. Burch



Veiled
by Michael R. Burch

She has belief
without comprehension
and in her crutchwork shack
she is
much like us . . .

tamping the bread
into edible forms,
regarding her children
at play
with something akin to relief . . .

ignoring the towers ablaze
in the distance
because they are not revelations
but things of glass,
easily shattered . . .

and if you were to ask her,
she might say:
sometimes God visits his wrath
upon an impious nation
for its leaders’ sins,

and we might agree:
seeing her mutilations.

Published by Poetry Super Highway and Modern War Poems.



Ali’s Song
by Michael R. Burch

They say that gold don’t tarnish. It ain’t so.
They say it has a wild, unearthly glow.
A man can be more beautiful, more wild.
I flung their medal to the river, child.
I flung their medal to the river, child.

They hung their coin around my neck; they made
my name a bridle, “called a ***** a *****.”
They say their gold is pure. I say defiled.
I flung their slave’s name to the river, child.
I flung their slave’s name to the river, child.

Ain’t got no quarrel with no Viet Cong
that never called me ******, did me wrong.
A man can’t be lukewarm, ’cause God hates mild.
I flung their notice to the river, child.
I flung their notice to the river, child.

They said, “Now here’s your bullet and your gun,
and there’s your cell: we’re waiting, you choose one.”
At first I groaned aloud, but then I smiled.
I gave their “future” to the river, child.
I gave their “future” to the river, child.

My face reflected up, dark bronze like gold,
a coin God stamped in His own image―BOLD.
My blood boiled like that river―strange and wild.
I died to hate in that dark river, child,
Come, be reborn in this bright river, child.

Originally published by Black Medina

Note: Cassius Clay, who converted to Islam and changed his “slave name” to Muhammad Ali, said that he threw his Olympic boxing gold medal into the Ohio River. Confirming his account, the medal was recovered by Robert Bradbury and his wife Pattie in 2014 during the Annual Ohio River Sweep, and the Ali family paid them $200,000 to regain possession of the medal. When drafted during the Vietnamese War, Ali refused to serve, reputedly saying: “I ain't got no quarrel with those Viet Cong; no Vietnamese ever called me a ******.” The notice mentioned in my poem is Ali's draft notice, which metaphorically gets tossed into the river along with his slave name. I was told through the grapevine that this poem appeared in Farsi in an Iranian publication called Bashgah. ―Michael R. Burch



evol-u-shun
by Michael R. Burch

does GOD adore the Tyger
while it’s ripping ur lamb apart?

does GOD applaud the Plague
while it’s eating u à la carte?

does GOD admire ur intelligence
while u pray that IT has a heart?

does GOD endorse the Bible
you blue-lighted at k-mart?



Enheduanna, the daughter of the famous King Saragon the Great of Akkad, is the first ancient writer whose name remains known today. She appears to be the first named poet in human history and the first known author of prayers and hymns. Enheduanna, who lived circa 2285-2250 BCE, is also one of the first women we know by name.

Lament to the Spirit of War
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

You hack down everything you see, War God!

Rising on fearsome wings
you rush to destroy the land,
descending like a raging storm,
howling like a hurricane,
screaming like a tempest,
thundering, raging, ranting, drumming,
whiplashing whirlwinds!

Men falter at your approaching footsteps.

Tortured dirges scream
on your lyre of despair.

Like a fiery Salamander you poison the land:
growling over the earth like thunder,
vegetation collapsing before you,
blood gushing down a mountainside.

Spirit of hatred, greed and vengeance!

******* of heaven and earth!

Your ferocious fire consumes our land.

Whipping your stallion
with furious commands,
you decide our fate.

You triumph over all human rites and prayers.

Who can explain your tirade,
why you go on so?



Temple Hymn 15
to the Gishbanda Temple of Ningishzida
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Most ancient and terrible shrine,
set deep in the mountain,
dark like a mother's womb...

Dark shrine,
like a mother's wounded breast,
blood-red and terrifying...

Though approaching through a safe-seeming field,
our hair stands on end as we near you!

Gishbanda,
like a neck-stock,
like a fine-eyed fish net,
like a foot-shackled prisoner's manacles...
your ramparts are massive,
like a trap!

But once we’re inside,
as the sun rises,
you yield widespread abundance!

Your prince
is the pure-handed priest of Inanna, heaven's Holy One,
Lord Ningishzida!

Oh, see how his thick, lustrous hair
cascades down his back!

Oh Gishbanda,
he has built this beautiful temple to house your radiance!
He has placed his throne upon your dais!



The Exaltation of Inanna: Opening Lines, an Excerpt
Nin-me-šara by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Lady of all divine powers,
Lady of the all-resplendent light,
Righteous Lady clothed in heavenly radiance,
Beloved Lady of An and Uraš,
Mistress of heaven with the holy diadem,
Who loves the beautiful headdress befitting the office of her high priestess,
Powerful Mistress who has seized all seven divine powers,
My lady, you are the guardian of the seven divine powers!
You have seized the divine powers,
You hold the divine powers in your hand,
You have gathered up the divine powers,
You have clasped the divine powers to your breast!
Like a dragon you have spewed venom on foreign lands that know you not!
When you roar like Iškur at the earth, nothing can withstand you!
Like a flood descending on alien lands, O Powerful One of heaven and earth, you will teach them to fear Inanna!



Temple Hymn 7: an Excerpt
to the Kesh Temple of Ninhursag
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

O, high-situated Kesh,
form-shifting summit,
inspiring fear like a venomous viper!

O, Lady of the Mountains,
Ninhursag’s house was constructed on a terrifying site!

O, Kesh, like holy Aratta: your womb dark and deep,
your walls high-towering and imposing!

O, great lion of the wildlands stalking the high plains!...



Temple Hymn 17: an Excerpt
to the Badtibira Temple of Dumuzi
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

O, house of jeweled lapis illuminating the radiant bed
in the peace-inducing palace of our Lady of the Steppe!



Temple Hymn 22: an Excerpt
to the Sirara Temple of Nanshe
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

O, house, you wild cow!
Made to conjure signs of the Divine!
You arise, beautiful to behold,
bedecked for your Mistress!



Temple Hymn 26: an Excerpt
to the Zabalam Temple of Inanna
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

O house illuminated by beams of bright light,
dressed in shimmering stone jewels,
awakening the world to awe!



Temple Hymn 42: an Excerpt
to the Eresh Temple of Nisaba
by Enheduanna
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

O, house of brilliant stars
bright with lapis stones,
you illuminate all lands!

...

The person who put this tablet together
is Enheduanna.
My king: something never created before,
did she not give birth to it?



Update of "A Litany in Time of Plague"
by Michael R. Burch

THE PLAGUE has come again
To darken lives of men
and women, girls and boys;
Death proves their bodies toys
Too frail to even cry.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Tycoons, what use is wealth?
You cannot buy good health!
Physicians cannot heal
Themselves, to Death must kneel.
Nuns’ prayers mount to the sky.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Beauty’s brightest flower?
Devoured in an hour.
Kings, Queens and Presidents
Are fearful residents
Of manors boarded high.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

We have no means to save
Our children from the grave.
Though cure-alls line our shelves,
We cannot save ourselves.
"Come, come!" the sad bells cry.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

NOTE: This poem is meant to capture the understandable fear and dismay the Plague caused in the Middle Ages, and which the coronavirus has caused in the 21st century. We are better equipped to deal with this modern plague, thanks to advances in science, medicine and sanitation. We do not have to succumb to fear, but it would be wise to have a healthy respect for the nasty bug and heed the advice of medical experts.--MRB



Regret
by Michael R. Burch

Regret,
a bitter
ache to bear . . .

once starlight
languished
in your hair . . .

a shining there
as brief
as rare.

Regret . . .
a pain
I chose to bear . . .

unleash
the torrent
of your hair . . .

and show me
once again―
how rare.

Published by The HyperTexts and The Chained Muse



The Stake
by Michael R. Burch

Love, the heart bets,
if not without regrets,
will still prove, in the end,
worth the light we expend
mining the dark
for an exquisite heart.

Originally published by The Lyric



If
by Michael R. Burch

If I regret
fire in the sunset
exploding on the horizon,
then let me regret loving you.

If I forget
even for a moment
that you are the only one,
then let me forget that the sky is blue.

If I should yearn
in a season of discontentment
for the vagabond light of a companionless moon,
let dawn remind me that you are my sun.

If I should burn―one moment less brightly,
one instant less true―
then with wild scorching kisses,
inflame me, inflame me, inflame me anew.

Originally published by The HyperTexts



The Effects of Memory
by Michael R. Burch

A black ringlet
curls to lie
at the nape of her neck,
glistening with sweat
in the evaporate moonlight ...
This is what I remember

now that I cannot forget.

And tonight,
if I have forgotten her name,
I remember:
rigid wire and white lace
half-impressed in her flesh ...

our soft cries, like regret,

... the enameled white clips
of her bra strap
still inscribe dimpled marks
that my kisses erase ...

now that I have forgotten her face.



Villanelle: Because Her Heart Is Tender
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

She scrawled soft words in soap: "Never Forget,"
Dove-white on her car's window, and the wren,
because her heart is tender, might regret
it called the sun to wake her. As I slept,
she heard lost names recounted, one by one.

She wrote in sidewalk chalk: "Never Forget,"
and kept her heart's own counsel. No rain swept
away those words, no tear leaves them undone.

Because her heart is tender with regret,
bruised by razed towers' glass and steel and stone
that shatter on and on and on and on,
she stitches in wet linen: "NEVER FORGET,"
and listens to her heart's emphatic song.

The wren might tilt its head and sing along
because its heart once understood regret
when fledglings fell beyond, beyond, beyond ...
its reach, and still the boot-heeled world strode on.

She writes in adamant: "NEVER FORGET"
because her heart is tender with regret.



To the boy Elis
by Georg Trakl
translation by Michael R. Burch

Elis, when the blackbird cries from the black forest,
it announces your downfall.
Your lips sip the rock-spring's blue coolness.

Your brow sweats blood
recalling ancient myths
and dark interpretations of birds' flight.

Yet you enter the night with soft footfalls;
the ripe purple grapes hang suspended
as you wave your arms more beautifully in the blueness.

A thornbush crackles;
where now are your moonlike eyes?
How long, oh Elis, have you been dead?

A monk dips waxed fingers
into your body's hyacinth;
Our silence is a black abyss

from which sometimes a docile animal emerges
slowly lowering its heavy lids.
A black dew drips from your temples:

the lost gold of vanished stars.

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: I believe that in the second stanza the blood on Elis's forehead may be a reference to the apprehensive ****** sweat of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. If my interpretation is correct, Elis hears the blackbird's cries, anticipates the danger represented by a harbinger of death, but elects to continue rather than turn back. From what I have been able to gather, the color blue had a special significance for Georg Trakl: it symbolized longing and perhaps a longing for death. The colors blue, purple and black may represent a progression toward death in the poem.



Turkish Poetry Translations

Attilâ İlhan (1925-2005) was a Turkish poet, translator, novelist, screenwriter, editor, journalist, essayist, reviewer, socialist and intellectual.

Ben Sana Mecburum: “You are indispensable”
by Attila Ilhan
translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

You are indispensable; how can you not know
that you’re like nails riveting my brain?
I see your eyes as ever-expanding dimensions.
You are indispensable; how can you not know
that I burn within, at the thought of you?

Trees prepare themselves for autumn;
can this city be our lost Istanbul?
Now clouds disintegrate in the darkness
as the street lights flicker
and the streets reek with rain.
You are indispensable, and yet you are absent ...

Love sometimes seems akin to terror:
a man tires suddenly at nightfall,
of living enslaved to the razor at his neck.
Sometimes he wrings his hands,
expunging other lives from his existence.
Sometimes whichever door he knocks
echoes back only heartache.

A screechy phonograph is playing in Fatih ...
a song about some Friday long ago.
I stop to listen from a vacant corner,
longing to bring you an untouched sky,
but time disintegrates in my hands.
Whatever I do, wherever I go,
you are indispensable, and yet you are absent ...

Are you the blue child of June?
Ah, no one knows you―no one knows!
Your deserted eyes are like distant freighters ...

Perhaps you are boarding in Yesilköy?
Are you drenched there, shivering with the rain
that leaves you blind, beset, broken,
with wind-disheveled hair?

Whenever I think of life
seated at the wolves’ table,
shameless, yet without soiling our hands ...
Yes, whenever I think of life,
I begin with your name, defying the silence,
and your secret tides surge within me
making this voyage inevitable.
You are indispensable; how can you not know?



Fragments
by Attila Ilhan
loose English translations/interpretations by Michael R. Burch

The night is a cloudy-feathered owl,
its quills like fine-spun glass.

It gazes out the window,
perched on my right shoulder,
its wings outspread and huge.

If the encroaching darkness seems devastating at first glance,
the sovereign of everything,
its reach infinite ...

Still somewhere within a kernel of light glows secretly
creating an enlightened forest of dialectics.

In September’s waning days one thinks wanly of the arrival of fall
like a ship appearing on the horizon with untrimmed, tattered sails;
for some unfathomable reason fall is the time to consider one’s own demise―
the body smothered by yellowed leaves like a corpse rotting in a ghoulish photograph ...

Bitter words
crack like whips
snapping across prison yards ...

Then there are words like pomegranate trees in bloom,
words like the sun igniting the sea beyond mountainous horizons,
flashing like mysterious knives ...

Such words are the burning roses of an infinite imagination;
they are born and they die with the flutterings of butterflies;
we carry those words in our hearts like pregnant shotguns until the day we expire,
martyred for the words we were prepared to die for ...

What I wrote and what you understood? Curious and curiouser!



Mehmet Akif Ersoy: Modern English Translations of Turkish Poems

Mehmet Âkif Ersoy (1873-1936) was a Turkish poet, author, writer, academic, member of parliament, and the composer of the Turkish National Anthem.



Snapshot
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Earth’s least trace of life cannot be erased;
even when you lie underground, it encompasses you.
So, those of you who anticipate the shadows,
how long will the darkness remember you?



Zulmü Alkislayamam
"I Can’t Applaud Tyranny"
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I can't condone cruelty; I will never applaud the oppressor;
Yet I can't renounce the past for the sake of deluded newcomers.
When someone curses my ancestors, I want to strangle them,
Even if you don’t.
But while I harbor my elders,
I refuse to praise their injustices.
Above all, I will never glorify evil, by calling injustice “justice.”
From the day of my birth, I've loved freedom;
The golden tulip never deceived me.
If I am nonviolent, does that make me a docile sheep?
The blade may slice, but my neck resists!
When I see someone else's wound, I suffer a great hardship;
To end it, I'll be whipped, I'll be beaten.
I can't say, “Never mind, just forget it!” I'll mind,
I'll crush, I'll be crushed, I'll uphold justice.
I'm the foe of the oppressor, the friend of the oppressed.
What the hell do you mean, with your backwardness?



Çanakkale Sehitlerine
"For the Çanakkale Martyrs"
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Was there ever anything like the Bosphorus war?―
The earth’s mightiest armies pressing Marmara,
Forcing entry between her mountain passes
To a triangle of land besieged by countless vessels.
Oh, what dishonorable assemblages!
Who are these Europeans, come as rapists?
Who, these braying hyenas, released from their reeking cages?
Why do the Old World, the New World, and all the nations of men
now storm her beaches? Is it Armageddon? Truly, the whole world rages!
Seven nations marching in unison!
Australia goose-stepping with Canada!
Different faces, languages, skin tones!
Everything so different, but the mindless bludgeons!
Some warriors Hindu, some African, some nameless, unknown!
This disgraceful invasion, baser than the Black Death!
Ah, the 20th century, so noble in its own estimation,
But all its favored ones nothing but a parade of worthless wretches!
For months now Turkish soldiers have been vomited up
Like stomachs’ retched contents regarded with shame.
If the masks had not been torn away, the faces would still be admired,
But the ***** called civilization is far from blameless.
Now the ****** demand the destruction of the doomed
And thus bring destruction down on their own heads.
Lightning severs horizons!
Earthquakes regurgitate the bodies of the dead!
Bombs’ thunderbolts explode brains,
rupture the ******* of brave soldiers.
Underground tunnels writhe like hell
Full of the bodies of burn victims.
The sky rains down death, the earth swallows the living.
A terrible blizzard heaves men violently into the air.
Heads, eyes, torsos, legs, arms, chins, fingers, hands, feet ...
Body parts rain down everywhere.
Coward hands encased in armor callously scatter
Floods of thunderbolts, torrents of fire.
Men’s chests gape open,
Beneath the high, circling vulture-like packs of the air.
Cannonballs fly as frequently as bullets
Yet the heroic army laughs at the hail.
Who needs steel fortresses? Who fears the enemy?
How can the shield of faith not prevail?
What power can make religious men bow down to their oppressors
When their stronghold is established by God?
The mountains and the rocks are the bodies of martyrs! ...
For the sake of a crescent, oh God, many suns set, undone!
Dear soldier, who fell for the sake of this land,
How great you are, your blood saves the Muslims!
Only the lions of Bedr rival your glory!
Who then can dig the grave wide enough to hold you. and your story?
If we try to consign you to history, you will not fit!
No book can contain the eras you shook!
Only eternities can encompass you! ...
Oh martyr, son of the martyr, do not ask me about the grave:
The prophet awaits you now, his arms flung wide open, to save!



Sessiz Gemi (“Silent Ship”)

by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

for the refugees

The time to weigh anchor has come;
a ship departing harbor slips quietly out into the unknown,
cruising noiselessly, its occupants already ghosts.
No flourished handkerchiefs acknowledge their departure;
the landlocked mourners stand nurturing their grief,
scanning the bleak horizon, their eyes blurring ...
Poor souls! Desperate hearts! But this is hardly the last ship departing!
There is always more pain to unload in this sorrowful life!
The hesitations of lovers and their belovèds are futile,
for they cannot know where the vanished are bound.
Many hopes must be quenched by the distant waves,
since years must pass, and no one returns from this journey.



Full Moon
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

You are so lovely
the full moon just might
delight
in your rising,
as curious
and bright,
to vanquish night.

But what can a mortal man do,
dear,
but hope?
I’ll ponder your mysteries
and (hmmmm) try to
cope.

We both know
you have every right to say no.



The Music of the Snow
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This melody of a night lasting longer than a thousand years!
This music of the snow supposed to last for thousand years!

Sorrowful as the prayers of a secluded monastery,
It rises from a choir of a hundred voices!

As the *****’s harmonies resound profoundly,
I share the sufferings of Slavic grief.

My mind drifts far from this city, this era,
To the old records of Tanburi Cemil Bey.

Now I’m suddenly overjoyed as once again I hear,
With the ears of my heart, the purest sounds of Istanbul!

Thoughts of the snow and darkness depart me;
I keep them at bay all night with my dreams!

Translator’s notes: “Slavic grief” because Beyatli wrote this poem while in Warsaw, serving as Turkey’s ambassador to Poland, in 1927. Tanburi Cemil Bey was a Turkish composer.



Thinking of you
by Nazim Hikmet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Thinking of you is beautiful, hopeful―
like listening to the most beautiful songs
sung by the earth's most beautiful voices.
But hope is insufficient for me now;
I don't want to listen to songs.
I want to sing love into birth.



I love you
by Nazim Hikmet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I love you―
like dipping bread into salt and eating;
like waking at night with a raging fever
and thirstily lapping up water, my mouth to the silver tap;
like unwrapping the unwieldy box the postman delivers,
unable to guess what's inside,
feeling fluttery, happy, doubtful.
I love you―
like flying over the sea the first time
as something stirs within me
while the sky softly darkens over Istanbul.
I love you―
as men thank God gratefully for life.



Sparrow
by Nazim Hikmet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Little sparrow,
perched on the clothesline,
do you regard me with pity?
Even so, I will watch you
soar away through the white spring leaves.



The Divan of the Lover

the oldest extant Turkish poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

All the universe as one great sign is shown:
God revealed in his creative acts unknown.
Who sees or understands them, jinn or men?
Such works lie far beyond mere mortals’ ken.
Nor can man’s mind or reason reach that strand,
Nor mortal tongue name Him who rules that land.
Since He chose nothingness with life to vest,
who dares to trouble God with worms’ behests?
For eighteen thousand worlds, lain end to end,
Do not with Him one atom's worth transcend!



Fragment
by Prince Jem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Behold! The torrent, dashing against the rocks, flails wildly.
The entire vast realm of Space and Being oppresses my soul idly.
Through bitterness of grief and woe the sky has rent its morning robe.
Look! See how in its eastern palace, the sun is a ****** globe!
The clouds of heaven rain bright tears on the distant mountain peaks.
Oh, hear how the deeply wounded thunder slowly, mournfully speaks!



Ah! Sunflower
by Michael R. Burch

after William Blake

O little yellow flower
like a star ...
how beautiful,
how wonderful
we are!



Published as the collection "When Pigs Fly"
Mateuš Conrad Apr 2019
.i don't know any other music genre, where the bass is left alone, left exfoliating married to the drums, and the guitar? there's no such a thing as a rhythm guitar section in blues... the guitar is consrtantly married to solo... to a sense of orthography... best represented by ´ (the acute accent) without an o: to cream out a "hidden" u, i.e.: ó... or a cedilla (¸) bound to a c: ç to form the greek sigma (ς) - e.g. garçon... waiter, waiter: i'll just wait... that's how i see the blues guitar... the rhythm guitar isn't there, the bass is married to the drums... but the blues guitar keeps the rhythm in a "funny" way... pair up john lee ****** with lightnin' hopkins (on the piano)... and you... keep rhythm, by working solo accents into the rhythm set by the bass and drums... you rhythm by a continous sparring with the solo - you solo by ensuring your remain in the confines of chord, or something much -esque to a chord... milk, cream & alcohol... again and again: the blues... oh my dear the blues... where the rhythm of the guitar is kept with constant soloing... sometimes engaging with the bass and the drums for a reference check of rhythm... but mostly: solo the whole **** through... but it's not the sort of soloing associated with hair metal of the 1980s jerking-off for performance art piquance... sometimes the solos come in the form of chords... it's like i said already... layers:

         waiter -   garçon
                                 and garcon
                                               (¸)

blues guitar? the latter...
                                             solo accents...
rhythm of syllables: gar-çon
                              but mostly gar-con
                                                         ­  (¸)
since the bass and drums rhythm section
is so perfected in the blues,
the guitar is allowed to do what the hands
want owned by the devil...
        a thorough solo to keep the rhythm...
the one genre of music
where the solo works like a rhythm...
     instead of that in between section
of showing off
between verse chorus verse chorus solo chorus
standard of rock...

     another freedom given to the blues guitar?
the rhythm set by the vocals,
of repeating lyrics...
hell... if someone is going to sing
and play at the same time...
                  why explore lyrics as some sort
of narrative... ping-pong along
with the freedom of the itchy fingers...
by having no real verse,
and no real chorus...
                just a steadied momentum...
        and you really need to drink to appreciate
the blues...
                   just like all the hippies
will tell you that dropping acid enchances your
chances of enjoying the 13th floor elevators
or jefferson airplane...
              i don't know which is better these days:
jazz or blues?
sure as **** not rap...
                       and they say the slave trade
was all bad... sorry...
      without these west africans budding
in h'america... i'd still have a clarinet shoved
up my ***... or folk songs...
                  or mozart's woodwind imitating...
or vivaldi's *******' worth of spring...
yes, and we all know that Idi Amin was white...
wasn't he? who died peacefully while
under asylum in saudi arabia...
           Idi Amin was white! oh come on!
he was the last king of sctoland!
              on a side:
   they were picking cotton...
             well... at least they weren't working
the ******* coalmines... where they now?

ever watch that video
of milo
  yiannopolous:
       congresswoman
ilhan omar
           (d-mn)
       addresses
david horowitz's west
coast retreat?

where is the old milo
gone to?
anyone pick
up on the heavy breathing?

there's the stag ***
of only 2 years prior?
he's not here...

         i was never into making
videos,
only because i just liked
those japanese godzilla
movies from the late 80s...

and i'm still a sucker
for modern pop,
currently?
           mabel - don't call me up...
huge, huge sucker
for the expected reaction
to pop music...
synch. vocals and
a very limited circumstance
of lyrical poverty...

sucker... might as well
don a dunce hat...
elsewhere,
on the ibernian peninsula
it's also called
a *capirote
...
and **** gets freaky...

i agree...
the northern crusades,
the polacks became christened
in 962...
   the teutonic knights
were ready
to explore lithuania...
we were about to allign
ourselves with them,
ergo: defend them...

            the concept
of reconquista came after
the crusades...
         i'm pretty sure it came
after...
           jihad is reconquista...
worded differently...
   is it? the crusades were one
thing...
     jihad = reconquista...
         the current form of jihad?
it's like crusading...
     to claim a jihad is to claim
reclaiming lost lands,
there must be some muslim genius
who could come up with
a counter term to jihad:
the jihad on the offensive...
rather than on the defensive...
we need some muslim genius
to come up with a conquering
ideology of islam...
   umayyad script...

i'm reading into the video
and i'm like:
is he angry...
       or is he simply scared?
all that heavy breathing...
maybe it's both?
   do i "think" about
throwing him from
a roof... are you sane?
as they say:
in a mad mad world,
the only sane people
                    are the madmen...

talk about memes finally
coming across "genetic"
mutation...
                why are all the "liberals"
and "progressives"
so surprised by mutation
creeping into memes?
doesn't that usually happen
with genes?
so... what's with all the outrage...
if memes exist outside
of the biological reality
of genes,
then... surely,
any counter-thought
from the est. order is equivalent
to a mutation, isn't it?

               so... what's the outrage
about?
    well if genes are going
to by hijacked by a mutation,
why would memes be immune
to a mutation,
akin to the o.k. hand sign?
you want a script?
i learned this at primary school,
but you need two hands
in tow:

   (right hand RH,
left hand LH,
   thumb TH
         index I
      ******* MF
        ring finger RF
pinky P)...

and now the motion

   RH (I + MF hand down) slap on the
the LH palm of the open hand...
   RH (I + MF hand up) slap
on the LH palm of the open hand...
RH (I + MF
               V shaped insertion
of the V shape into the LH's
side)
      clenched fist of RH slammed
on the open palm of the LH...
clenched RH with an extended TH
poiting toward caesar's favour
in the coliseum (thumb's up)
moving away from the LH open
palm...

   translation?
   why, don't, you, ****, off...
primary school,
some of the kid's parents
must have taught them this sequence
when their children told them
that some foreigner ******
was attending primary school
with them...

                   poor milo though...
notably in that video...
           he's either really angry...
or he's ******* himself...

i'm still left with this sign language...
i don't even know if it's correct...
a kevin spacey "conundrum"...
i'm not exactly going to, *******,
am i?
                knitting and picking
points of criticism...
   made easy:
   no niqab, no turban,
   no copper skin,
             no black skin...
no wonder my fellow countrymen
are leaving
with a massive F          and a U
from this island...
                    good for them...
if i was sane enough,
i'd also leave...
      but given that i'm also a dual-citizen...
well...
         milk the ***** for
her last worth...
    this language...
                    the people are another story,
but my lover affair with
this language is exactly
this.
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
Daredevil
by Michael R. Burch

There are days that I believe
(and nights that I deny)
love is not mutilation.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.

There are tightropes leaps bereave—
taut wires strumming high
brief songs, infatuations.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.

There were cannon shots’ soirees,
hearts barricaded, wise . . .
and then . . . annihilation.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.

There were nights our hearts conceived
dawns’ indiscriminate sighs.
To dream was our consolation.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.

There were acrobatic leaves
that tumbled down to lie
at our feet, bright trepidations.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.

There were hearts carved into trees—
tall stakes where you and I
left childhood’s salt libations . . .

Daredevil, dry your eyes.

Where once you scraped your knees;
love later bruised your thighs.
Death numbs all, our sedation.

Daredevil, dry your eyes.

Keywords/Tags: Daredevil, love, mutilation, tightrope, high, wire, acrobatic, tumble, bruised, fall, sedation, death, mrbdare, mrbch



Passionate One
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Love of my life,
light of my morning―
arise, brightly dawning,
for you are my sun.

Give me of heaven
both manna and leaven―
desirous Presence,
Passionate One.

My wife Beth has been a Daredevil for Love, sometimes engaging in high-wire acts that defied gravity. At times her acrobatic moves resulted in tumbles, falls, and bruises, but she never stopped loving her family and friends. Thus, the first two poems are related, although the woman in the first poem is imaginary.



In My House
by Michael R. Burch

When you were in my house
you were not free―
in chains bound.

Manifest Destiny?

I was wrong;
my plantation burned to the ground.
I was wrong.
This is my song,
this is my plea:
I was wrong.

When you are in my house,
now, I am not free.
I feel the song
hurling itself back at me.
We were wrong.
This is my history.

I feel my tongue
stilting accordingly.

We were wrong;
brother, forgive me.

Published by Black Medina. This is poem about a different kind of high-wire act, a different kind of tension, and a different kind of fall, bruising and mutilation. At the time I wrote this poem, I had hired two fine young black men as programmers and they had keys to my house, where I was the minority on work days.



Less Heroic Couplets: ****** Most Fowl!
by Michael R. Burch

“****** most foul!”
cried the mouse to the owl.

“Friend, I’m no sinner;
you’re merely my dinner!”
the wise owl replied
as the tasty snack died.

Originally published by Lighten Up Online and in Potcake Chapbook #7. In an attempt to demonstrate that not all couplets are heroic, I have created a series of poems called “Less Heroic Couplets.” I believe even poets should abide by truth-in-advertising laws! Mice are acrobatic little daredevils. ― MRB



Leaf Fall
by Michael R. Burch

Whatever winds encountered soon resolved
to swirling fragments, till chaotic heaps
of leaves lay pulsing by the backyard wall.
In lieu of rakes, our fingers sorted each
dry leaf into its place and built a high,
soft bastion against earth's gravitron―
a patchwork quilt, a trampoline, a bright
impediment to fling ourselves upon.

And nothing in our laughter as we fell
into those leaves was like the autumn's cry
of also falling. Nothing meant to die
could be so bright as we, so colorful―
clad in our plaids, oblivious to pain
we'd feel today, should we leaf-fall again.

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea. This is a poem about yet another kind of fall and the kind of bruising that increases with advancing age.



Herbsttag ("Autumn Day" or "Fall Day")
by Rainer Maria Rilke
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Lord, it is time. Let the immense summer go.
Lay your long shadows over the sundials
and over the meadows, let the free winds blow.
Command the late fruits to fatten and shine;
O, grant them another Mediterranean hour!
Urge them to completion, and with power
convey final sweetness to the heavy wine.
Who has no house now, never will build one.
Who's alone now, shall continue alone;
he'll wake, read, write long letters to friends,
and pace the tree-lined pathways up and down,
restlessly, as autumn leaves drift and descend.

Originally published by Measure. This is one of my favorite Rilke poems, about the feelings of loneliness a fall day can inspire.



To the boy Elis
by Georg Trakl
translation by Michael R. Burch

Elis, when the blackbird cries from the black forest,
it announces your downfall.
Your lips sip the rock-spring's blue coolness.

Your brow sweats blood
recalling ancient myths
and dark interpretations of birds' flight.

Yet you enter the night with soft footfalls;
the ripe purple grapes hang suspended
as you wave your arms more beautifully in the blueness.

A thornbush crackles;
where now are your moonlike eyes?
How long, oh Elis, have you been dead?

A monk dips waxed fingers
into your body's hyacinth;
Our silence is a black abyss

from which sometimes a docile animal emerges
slowly lowering its heavy lids.
A black dew drips from your temples:

the lost gold of vanished stars.

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: I believe that in the second stanza the blood on Elis's forehead may be a reference to the apprehensive ****** sweat of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. If my interpretation is correct, Elis hears the blackbird's cries, anticipates the danger represented by a harbinger of death, but elects to continue rather than turn back. From what I have been able to gather, the color blue had a special significance for Georg Trakl: it symbolized longing and perhaps a longing for death. The colors blue, purple and black may represent a progression toward death in the poem.



I Loved You
by Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin
translation by Michael R. Burch

I loved you ... perhaps I love you still ...
perhaps for a while such emotions may remain.
But please don’t let my feelings trouble you;
I do not wish to cause you further pain.

I loved you ... thus the hopelessness I knew ...
The jealousy, the diffidence, the pain
resulted in two hearts so wholly true
the gods might grant us leave to love again.



Wulf and Eadwacer
ancient Anglo-Saxon/Old English poem, circa 960 AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My clan's curs pursue him like crippled game;
they'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

Wulf's on one island; we're on another.
His island's a fortress, fastened by fens.
Here, bloodthirsty curs howl for carnage.
They'll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

My heart pursued Wulf like a panting hound,
but whenever it rained—how I wept! —
the boldest cur grasped me in its paws:
good feelings for him, but for me loathsome!

Wulf, O, my Wulf, my ache for you
has made me sick; your seldom-comings
have left me famished, deprived of real meat.

Have you heard, Eadwacer? Watchdog!
A wolf has borne our wretched whelp to the woods!
One can easily sever what never was one:
our song together.



Hymn for Fallen Soldiers
by Michael R. Burch

Sound the awesome cannons.
Pin medals to each breast.
Attention, honor guard!
Give them a hero’s rest.

Recite their names to the heavens
Till the stars acknowledge their kin.
Then let the land they defended
Gather them in again.

When I learned there’s an American military organization, the DPAA (Defense/POW/MIA Accounting Agency) that is still finding and bringing home the bodies of soldiers who died serving their country in World War II, after blubbering like a baby, I managed to eke out this poem.



Attilâ İlhan (1925-2005) was a Turkish poet, translator, novelist, screenwriter, editor, journalist, essayist, reviewer, socialist and intellectual.

Ben Sana Mecburum: “You are indispensable”
by Attila Ilhan
translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

You are indispensable; how can you not know
that you’re like nails riveting my brain?
I see your eyes as ever-expanding dimensions.
You are indispensable; how can you not know
that I burn within, at the thought of you?

Trees prepare themselves for autumn;
can this city be our lost Istanbul?
Now clouds disintegrate in the darkness
as the street lights flicker
and the streets reek with rain.
You are indispensable, and yet you are absent ...

Love sometimes seems akin to terror:
a man tires suddenly at nightfall,
of living enslaved to the razor at his neck.
Sometimes he wrings his hands,
expunging other lives from his existence.
Sometimes whichever door he knocks
echoes back only heartache.

A screechy phonograph is playing in Fatih ...
a song about some Friday long ago.
I stop to listen from a vacant corner,
longing to bring you an untouched sky,
but time disintegrates in my hands.
Whatever I do, wherever I go,
you are indispensable, and yet you are absent ...

Are you the blue child of June?
Ah, no one knows you―no one knows!
Your deserted eyes are like distant freighters ...

Perhaps you are boarding in Yesilköy?
Are you drenched there, shivering with the rain
that leaves you blind, beset, broken,
with wind-disheveled hair?

Whenever I think of life
seated at the wolves’ table,
shameless, yet without soiling our hands ...
Yes, whenever I think of life,
I begin with your name, defying the silence,
and your secret tides surge within me
making this voyage inevitable.
You are indispensable; how can you not know?



Fragments
by Attila Ilhan
loose English translations/interpretations by Michael R. Burch



The night is a cloudy-feathered owl,
its quills like fine-spun glass.

It gazes out the window,
perched on my right shoulder,
its wings outspread and huge.

If the encroaching darkness seems devastating at first glance,
the sovereign of everything,
its reach infinite ...

Still somewhere within a kernel of light glows secretly
creating an enlightened forest of dialectics.



In September’s waning days one thinks wanly of the arrival of fall
like a ship appearing on the horizon with untrimmed, tattered sails;
for some unfathomable reason fall is the time to consider one’s own demise―
the body smothered by yellowed leaves like a corpse rotting in a ghoulish photograph ...



Bitter words
crack like whips
snapping across prison yards ...

Then there are words like pomegranate trees in bloom,
words like the sun igniting the sea beyond mountainous horizons,
flashing like mysterious knives ...

Such words are the burning roses of an infinite imagination;
they are born and they die with the flutterings of butterflies;
we carry those words in our hearts like pregnant shotguns until the day we expire,
martyred for the words we were prepared to die for ...



What I wrote and what you understood? Curious and curiouser!



escape!
by michael r. burch

to live among the daffodil folk . . .
slip down the rainslickened drainpipe . . .
suddenly pop out
the GARGANTUAN SPOUT . . .
minuscule as alice, shout
yippee-yi-yee!
in wee exultant glee
to be leaving behind the
LARGE
THREE-DENALI GARAGE.



Escape!!
by Michael R. Burch

You are too beautiful,
too innocent,
too inherently lovely
to merely reflect the sun’s splendor ...

too full of irresistible candor
to remain silent,
too delicately fawnlike
for a world so violent ...

Come, my beautiful Bambi
and I will protect you ...
but of course you have already been lured away
by the dew-laden roses ...



Dream of Infinity
by Michael R. Burch

Have you tasted the bitterness of tears of despair?
Have you watched the sun sink through such pale, balmless air
that your soul sought its shell like a crab on a beach,
then scuttled inside to be safe, out of reach?

Might I lift you tonight from earth’s wreckage and damage
on these waves gently rising to pay the moon homage?
Or better, perhaps, let me say that I, too,
have dreamed of infinity... windswept and blue.

This poem was originally published by TC Broadsheet Verses. I was paid a whopping $10, my first cash payment. It was subsequently published by Piedmont Literary Review, Penny Dreadful, the Net Poetry and Art Competition, Songs of Innocence, Poetry Life & Times, Better Than Starbucks and The Chained Muse.



Heat Lightening
by Michael R. Burch

Each night beneath the elms, we never knew
which lights beyond dark hills might stall, advance,
then lurch into strange headbeams tilted up
like searchlights seeking contact in the distance . . .

Quiescent unions . . . thoughts of bliss, of hope . . .
long-dreamt appearances of wished-on stars . . .
like childhood’s long-occluded, nebulous
slow drift of half-formed visions . . . slip and bra . . .

Wan moonlight traced your features, perilous,
in danger of extinction, should your hair
fall softly on my eyes, or should a kiss
cause them to close, or should my fingers dare

to leave off childhood for some new design
of whiter lace, of flesh incarnadine.



Winter Thoughts of Ann Rutledge

Ann Rutledge was apparently Abraham Lincoln’s first love interest. Unfortunately, she was engaged to another man when they met, then died with typhoid fever at age 22. According to a friend, Isaac Cogdal, when asked if he had loved her, Lincoln replied: “It is true―true indeed, I did. I loved the woman dearly and soundly: She was a handsome girl―would have made a good, loving wife … I did honestly and truly love the girl and think often, often of her now.”

Winter Thoughts of Ann Rutledge
by Michael R. Burch

Winter was not easy,
nor would the spring return.
I knew you by your absence,
as men are wont to burn
with strange indwelling fire―
such longings you inspire!

But winter was not easy,
nor would the sun relent
from sculpting ****** images
and how could I repent?
I left quaint offerings in the snow,
more maiden than I care to know.



Ann Rutledge’s Irregular Quilt
by Michael R. Burch

based on “Lincoln the Unknown” by Dale Carnegie

I.
Her fingers “plied the needle” with “unusual swiftness and art”
till Abe knelt down beside her: then her demoralized heart
set Eros’s dart a-quiver; thus a crazy quilt emerged:
strange stitches all a-kilter, all patterns lost. (Her host
kept her vicarious laughter barely submerged.)

II.
Years later she’d show off the quilt with its uncertain stitches
as evidence love undermines men’s plans and unevens women’s strictures
(and a plethora of scriptures.)

III.
But O the sacred tenderness Ann’s reckless stitch contains
and all the world’s felicities: rich cloth, for love’s fine gains,
for sweethearts’ tremulous fingers and their bright, uncertain vows
and all love’s blithe, erratic hopes (like now’s).

IV.
Years later on a pilgrimage, by tenderness obsessed,
Dale Carnegie, drawn to her grave, found weeds in her place of rest
and mowed them back, revealing the spot of Lincoln’s joy and grief
(and his hope and his disbelief).

V.
Yes, such is the tenderness of love, and such are its disappointments.
Love is a book of rhapsodic poems. Love is an grab bag of ointments.
Love is the finger poised, the smile, the Question ― perhaps ― and the Answer?

Love is the pain of betrayal, the two left feet of the dancer.

VI.
There were ladies of ill repute in his past. Or so he thought. Was it true?
And yet he loved them, Ann (sweet Ann!), as tenderly as he loved you.

Keywords/Tags: Abraham Lincoln, Ann Rutledge, history, president, love, lover, mistress, paramour, romance, romantic, quilt, Dale Carnegie



Shattered
by Vera Pavlova
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I shattered your heart;
now I limp through the shards
barefoot.



Warming Her Pearls
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Warming her pearls, her *******
gleam like constellations.
Her belly is a bit rotund...
she might have stepped out of a Rubens.

Published by Erosha, The Eclectic Muse, Muse Apprentice Guild, Nisqually Delta Review, Erbacce, Poetry Life & Times and Brief Poems



Squall
by Michael R. Burch

There, in that sunny arbor,
in the aureate light
filtering through the waxy leaves
of a stunted banana tree,

I felt the sudden monsoon of your wrath,
the clattery implosions
and copper-bright bursts
of the bottoms of pots and pans.

I saw your swollen goddess’s belly
wobble and heave
in pregnant indignation,
turned tail, and ran.

Published by Chrysanthemum, Poetry Super Highway, Barbitos and Poetry Life & Times



Villanelle: Hangovers
by Michael R. Burch

We forget that, before we were born,
our parents had “lives” of their own,
ran drunk in the streets, or half-******.

Yes, our parents had lives of their own
until we were born; then, undone,
they were buying their parents gravestones

and finding gray hairs of their own
(because we were born lacking some
of their curious habits, but soon

would certainly get them). Half-******,
we watched them dig graves of their own.
Their lives would be over too soon

for their curious habits to bloom
in us (though our children were born
nine months from that night on the town

when, punch-drunk in the streets or half-******,
we first proved we had lives of our own).



NOTE: The Natchez Trace is the Nashville bar where I met my future wife Beth. We invented a game called "twister pool" which involved billiards, drinking and a fair bit of physical contortion ...

At the Natchez Trace
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

I.
Solitude surrounds me
though nearby laughter sounds;
around me mingle men who think
to drink their demons down,
in rounds.

Beside me stands a woman,
a stanza in the song
that plays so low and fluting
and bids me sing along.

Beside me stands a woman
whose eyes reveal her soul,
whose cheeks are soft as eiderdown,
whose hips and ******* are full.

Beside me stands a woman
who scarcely knows my name;
but I would have her know my heart
if only I knew where to start.

II.
Not every man is as he seems;
not all are prone to poems and dreams.
Not every man would take the time
to meter out his heart in rhyme.
But I am not as other men—
my heart is sentenced to this pen.

III.
Men speak of their "ambition"
but they only know its name . . .
I never say the word aloud,
but I have felt the Flame.

IV.
Now, standing here, I do not dare
to let her know that I might care;
I never learned the lines to use;
I never worked the wolves' bold ruse.
But if she looks my way again,
perhaps I will, if only then.

V.
How can a man have come so far
in searching after every star,
and yet today,
though years away,
look back upon the winding way,
and see himself as he was then,
a child of eight or nine or ten,
and not know more?

VI.
My life is not empty; I have my desire . . .
I write in a moment that few man can know,
when my nerves are on fire
and my heart does not tire
though it pounds at my breast—
wrenching blow after blow.

VII.
And in all I attempted, I also succeeded;
few men have more talent to do what I do.
But in one respect, I stand now defeated;
In love I could never make magic come true.

VIII.
If I had been born to be handsome and charming,
then love might have come to me easily as well.
But if had that been, then would I have written?
If not, I'd remain; **** that demon to hell!

IX.
Beside me stands a woman,
but others look her way
and in their eyes are eagerness . . .
for passion and a wild caress?
But who am I to say?

Beside me stands a woman;
she conjures up the night
and wraps itself around her
till others flit about her
like moths drawn to firelight.

X.
And I, myself, am just as they,
wondering when the light might fade,
yet knowing should it not dim soon
that I might fall and be consumed.

XI.
I write from despair
in the silence of morning
for want of a prayer
and the need of the mourning.
And loneliness grips my heart like a vise;
my anguish is harsher and colder than ice.
But poetry can bring my heart healing
and deaden the pain, or lessen the feeling.
And so I must write till at last sleep has called me
and hope at that moment my pen has not failed me.

XII.
Beside me stands a woman,
a mystery to me.
I long to hold her in my arms;
I also long to flee.

Beside me stands a woman;
how many has she known
more handsome, charming,
chic, alarming?
I hope I never know.

Beside me stands a woman;
how many has she known
who ever wrote her such a poem?
I know not even one.

Keywords/Tags: Natchez, Trace, love, relationship, relationships, pool, billiards, rhyme, hope, pain, painful, solitude, drink, drinking, enigma, angel, stranger, ambiguity, woman



Happily Never After (the Second Curse of the ***** Toad)
by Michael R. Burch

He did not think of love of Her at all
frog-plangent nights, as moons engoldened roads
through crumbling stonewalled provinces, where toads
(nee princes) ruled in chinks and grew so small
at last to be invisible. He smiled
(the fables erred so curiously), and thought
bemusedly of being reconciled
to human flesh, because his heart was not
incapable of love, but, being cursed
a second time, could only love a toad’s . . .
and listened as inflated frogs rehearsed
cheekbulging tales of anguish from green moats . . .
and thought of her soft croak, her skin fine-warted,
his anemic flesh, and how true love was thwarted.



Haunted
by Michael R. Burch

Now I am here
and thoughts of my past mistakes are my brethren.
I am withering
and the sweetness of your memory is like a tear.

Go, if you will,
for the ache in my heart is its hollowness
and the flaw in my soul is its shallowness;
there is nothing to fill.

Take what you can;
I have nothing left.
And when you are gone, I will be bereft,
the husk of a man.

Or stay here awhile.
My heart cannot bear the night, or these dreams.
Your face is a ghost, though paler, it seems
when you smile.

Published by Romantics Quarterly



Have I been too long at the fair?
by Michael R. Burch

Have I been too long at the fair?
The summer has faded,
the leaves have turned brown;
the Ferris wheel teeters ...
not up, yet not down.
Have I been too long at the fair?

This is one of my earliest poems, written around age 15 when we were living with my grandfather in his house on Chilton Street, within walking distance of the Nashville fairgrounds. I remember walking to the fairgrounds, stopping at a Dairy Queen along the way, and swimming at a public pool. But I believe the Ferris wheel only operated during the state fair. So my “educated guess” is that this poem was written during the 1973 state fair, or shortly thereafter. I remember watching people hanging suspended in mid-air, waiting for carnies to deposit them safely on terra firma again.



Her Preference
by Michael R. Burch

Not for her the pale incandescence of dreams,
the warm glow of imagination,
the hushed whispers of possibility,
or frail, blossoming hope.

No, she prefers the anguish and screams
of bitter condemnation,
the hissing of hostility,
damnation's rope.



hey pete
by Michael R. Burch

for Pete Rose

hey pete,
it's baseball season
and the sun ascends the sky,
encouraging a schoolboy's dreams
of winter whizzing by;
go out, go out and catch it,
put it in a jar,
set it on a shelf
and then you'll be a Superstar.

When I was a boy, Pete Rose was my favorite baseball player; this poem is not a slam at him, but rather an ironic jab at the term "superstar."



Nevermore!
by Michael R. Burch

Nevermore! O, nevermore
shall the haunts of the sea―
the swollen tide pools
and the dark, deserted shore―
mark her passing again.

And the salivating sea
shall never kiss her lips
nor caress her ******* and hips
as she dreamt it did before,
once, lost within the uproar.

The waves will never **** her,
nor take her at their leisure;
the sea gulls shall not have her,
nor could she give them pleasure ...
She sleeps forevermore.

She sleeps forevermore,
a ****** save to me
and her other lover,
who lurks now, safely covered
by the restless, surging sea.

And, yes, they sleep together,
but never in that way!
For the sea has stripped and shorn
the one I once adored,
and washed her flesh away.

He does not stroke her honey hair,
for she is bald, bald to the bone!
And how it fills my heart with glee
to hear them sometimes cursing me
out of the depths of the demon sea ...

their skeletal love―impossibility!

This is one of my Poe-like creations, written around age 19. I think the poem has an interesting ending, since the male skeleton is missing an important "member."



Day, and Night
by Michael R. Burch

The moon exposes pockmarked scars of craters;
her visage, veiled by willows, palely looms.
And we who rise each day to grind a living,
dream each scented night of such perfumes
as drew us to the window, to the moonlight,
when all the earth was steeped in cobalt blue―
an eerie vase of achromatic flowers
bled silver by pale starlight, losing hue.

The night begins her waltz to waiting sunrise―
adagio, the music she now hears;
and we who in the sunlight slave for succor,
dreaming, seek communion with the spheres.
And all around the night is in crescendo,
and everywhere the stars’ bright legions form,
and here we hear the sweet incriminations
of lovers we had once to keep us warm.

And also here we find, like bled carnations,
red lips that whitened, kisses drawn to lies,
that touched us once with fierce incantations
and taught us love was prettier than wise.



Flight
by Michael R. Burch

It is the nature of loveliness to vanish
as butterfly wings, batting against nothingness
seek transcendence ...

Originally published by Hibiscus (India)



in-flight convergence
by michael r. burch

serene, almost angelic,
the lights of the city                  extend
over lumbering behemoths shrilly screeching displeasure;
they say
that nothing is certain,
that nothing man dreams or ordains
long endures his command

here the streetlights that flicker
and those blazing steadfast seem one
from a                distance;
           descend?
they abruptly
part                    ways,

so that nothing is one
which at times does not suddenly blend
into garish insignificance
in the familiar alleyways,
in the white neon flash
and the billboards of Convenience

and man seems the afterthought of his own Brilliance
as we thunder down the enlightened runways.

Originally published by The Aurorean and nominated for the Pushcart Prize, then published by Grassroots Poetry, Unlikely Stories, Bewildering Stories, Scarlet Leaf Review, Famous Poets & Poems and Inspirational Stories



The Pictish Faeries
by Michael R. Burch

Smaller and darker
than their closest kin,
the faeries learned only too well
never to dwell
close to the villages of larger men.

Only to dance in the starlight
when the moon was full
and men were afraid.
Only to worship in the farthest glade,
ever heeding the raven and the gull.



Chit Chat: in the Poetry Chat Room
WHY SHULD I LERN TO SPELL?
HELL,
NO ONE REEDS WHAT I SAY
ANYWAY!!! :(

Sing for the cool night,
whispers of constellations.
Sing for the supple grass,
the tall grass, gently whispering.
Sing of infinities, multitudes,
of all that lies beyond us now,
whispers begetting whispers.
And i am glad to also whisper . . .

I WUS HURT IN LUV I’M DYIN’
FER TH’ TEARS I BEEN A-CRYIN’!!!

i abide beyond serenities
and realms of grace,
above love’s misdirected earth,
i lift my face.
i am beyond finding now . . .

I WAS IN, LOVE, AND HE ******* ME!!!
THE ****!!! TOTALLY!!!

i loved her once, before, when i
was mortal too, and sometimes i
would listen and distinctly hear
her laughter from the juniper,
but did not go . . .

I JUST DON’T GET POETRY, SOMETIMES.
IT’S OKAY, I GUESS.
I REALLY DON’T READ THAT MUCH AT ALL,
I MUST CONFESS!!! ;-)

Travail, inherent to all flesh,
i do not know, nor how to feel,
although i sing them nighttimes still:
the bitter woes, that do not heal . . .

POETRY IS BORING!!!
SEE, IT *****!!! I’M SNORING!!! ZZZZZZZ!!!

The words like breath, i find them here,
among the fragrant juniper,
and conifers amid the snow,
old loves imagined long ago . . .

WHY DON’T YOU LIKE MY PERFICKT WORDS
YOU USELESS UN-AMERIC’N TURDS?!!!

What use is love, to me, or Thou?
O Words, my awe, to fly so smooth
above the anguished hearts of men
to heights unknown, Thy bare remove . . .

Keywords/Tags: Poetry, writing, chit, chat room, forum, website, social media, workshop, mortal, mortality, grass, multitudes, Walt Whitman, love, awe, serenity, serenities, grace, heights, Parnassus, art, spelling, grammar



Renee Vivien Translations

Renee Vivien was a British lesbian and cross-dresser who wrote poems primarily in French.

Song
by Renée Vivien
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

When the moon weeps,
illuminating flowers on the graves of the faithful,
my memories creep
back to you, wrapped in flightless wings.

It's getting late; soon we will sleep
(your eyes already half closed)
steeped
in the shimmering air.

O, the agony of burning roses:
your forehead discloses
a heavy despondency,
though your hair floats lightly ...

In the night sky the stars burn whitely
as the Goddess nightly
resurrects flowers that fear the sun
and die before dawn ...



Undine
by Renée Vivien
loose translation/interpretation by Kim Cherub (an alias of Michael R. Burch)

Your laughter startles, your caresses rake.
Your cold kisses love the evil they do.
Your eyes―blue lotuses drifting on a lake.

Lilies are less pallid than your face.

You move like water parting.
Your hair falls in rootlike tangles.
Your words like treacherous rapids rise.
Your arms, flexible as reeds, strangle,

Choking me like tubular river reeds.
I shiver in their enlacing embrace.
Drowning without an illuminating moon,
I vanish without a trace,

lost in a nightly swoon.



Veronica Franco translations

Veronica Franco (1546-1591) was a Venetian courtesan who wrote literary-quality poetry and prose.

Capitolo 19: A Courtesan's Love Lyric (I)
by Veronica Franco
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

"I resolved to make a virtue of my desire."

My rewards will be commensurate with your gifts
if only you give me the one that lifts
me laughing...

And though it costs you nothing,
still it is of immense value to me.

Your reward will be
not just to fly
but to soar, so high
that your joys vastly exceed your desires.

And my beauty, to which your heart aspires
and which you never tire of praising,
I will employ for the raising
of your spirits. Then, lying sweetly at your side,
I will shower you with all the delights of a bride,
which I have more expertly learned.

Then you who so fervently burned
will at last rest, fully content,
fallen even more deeply in love, spent
at my comfortable *****.

When I am in bed with a man I blossom,
becoming completely free
with the man who loves and enjoys me.

Here is a second, more formal version of the same poem, translated into rhymed couplets...

Capitolo 19: A Courtesan's Love Lyric (II)
by Veronica Franco
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

"I resolved to make a virtue of my desire."

My rewards will match your gifts
If you give me the one that lifts
Me, laughing. If it comes free,
Still, it is of immense value to me.
Your reward will be—not just to fly,
But to soar—so incredibly high
That your joys eclipse your desires
(As my beauty, to which your heart aspires
And which you never tire of praising,
I employ for your spirit's raising) .
Afterwards, lying docile at your side,
I will grant you all the delights of a bride,
Which I have more expertly learned.
Then you, who so fervently burned,
Will at last rest, fully content,
Fallen even more deeply in love, spent
At my comfortable *****.
When I am in bed with a man I blossom,
Becoming completely free
With the man who freely enjoys me.

Franco published two books: "Terze rime" (a collection of poems)and "Lettere familiari a diversi" (a collection of letters and poems). She also collected the works of other writers into anthologies and founded a charity for courtesans and their children. And she was an early champion of women's rights, one of the first ardent, outspoken feminists that we know by name today. For example...

Capitolo 24
by Veronica Franco
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

(written by Franco to a man who had insulted a woman)

Please try to see with sensible eyes
how grotesque it is for you
to insult and abuse women!
Our unfortunate *** is always subject
to such unjust treatment, because we
are dominated, denied true freedom!
And certainly we are not at fault
because, while not as robust as men,
we have equal hearts, minds and intellects.
Nor does virtue originate in power,
but in the vigor of the heart, mind and soul:
the sources of understanding;
and I am certain that in these regards
women lack nothing,
but, rather, have demonstrated
superiority to men.
If you think us "inferior" to yourself,
perhaps it's because, being wise,
we outdo you in modesty.
And if you want to know the truth,
the wisest person is the most patient;
she squares herself with reason and with virtue;
while the madman thunders insolence.
The stone the wise man withdraws from the well
was flung there by a fool...

Life was not a bed of roses for Venetian courtesans. Although they enjoyed the good graces of their wealthy patrons, religious leaders and commoners saw them as symbols of vice. Once during a plague, Franco was banished from Venice as if her "sins" had helped cause it. When she returned in 1577, she faced the Inquisition and charges of "witchcraft." She defended herself in court and won her freedom, but lost all her material possessions. Eventually, Domenico Venier, her major patron, died in 1582 and left her with no support. Her tax declaration of that same year stated that she was living in a section of the city where many destitute prostitutes ended their lives. She may have died in poverty at the age of forty-five.

Hollywood produced a movie based on her life: "Dangerous Beauty."

When I bed a man
who—I sense—truly loves and enjoys me,
I become so sweet and so delicious
that the pleasure I bring him surpasses all delight,
till the tight
knot of love,
however slight
it may have seemed before,
is raveled to the core.
—Veronica Franco, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

We danced a youthful jig through that fair city—
Venice, our paradise, so pompous and pretty.
We lived for love, for primal lust and beauty;
to please ourselves became our only duty.
Floating there in a fog between heaven and earth,
We grew drunk on excesses and wild mirth.
We thought ourselves immortal poets then,
Our glory endorsed by God's illustrious pen.
But paradise, we learned, is fraught with error,
and sooner or later love succumbs to terror.
—Veronica Franco, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

In response to a friend urging Veronica Franco to help her daughter become a courtesan, Franco warns her that the profession can be devastating:

"Even if Fortune were only benign and favorable to you in this endeavor, this life is such that in any case it would always be wretched. It is such an unhappy thing, and so contrary to human nature, to subject one's body and activity to such slavery that one is frightened just by the thought of it: to let oneself be prey to many, running the risk of being stripped, robbed, killed, so that one day can take away from you what you have earned with many men in a long time, with so many other dangers of injury and horrible contagious disease: to eat with someone else's mouth, to sleep with someone else's eyes, to move according to someone else's whim, running always toward the inevitable shipwreck of one's faculties and life. Can there be greater misery than this? ... Believe me, among all the misfortunes that can befall a human being in the world, this life is the worst."

I confess I became a courtesan, traded yearning for power, welcomed many rather than be owned by one. I confess I embraced a *****'s freedom over a wife's obedience.—"Dangerous Beauty"

I wish it were not considered a sin
to have liked *******.
Women have yet to realize
the cowardice that presides.
And if they should ever decide
to fight the shallow,
I would be the first, setting an example for them to follow.
—Veronica Franco, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Yahya Kemal Beyatli translations

Yahya Kemal Beyatli (1884-1958) was a Turkish poet, editor, columnist and historian, as well as a politician and diplomat. Born born Ahmet Âgâh, he wrote under the pen names Agâh Kemal, Esrar, Mehmet Agâh, and Süleyman Sadi. He served as Turkey’s ambassador to Poland, Portugal and Pakistan.

Sessiz Gemi (“Silent Ship”)
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

for the refugees

The time to weigh anchor has come;
a ship departing harbor slips quietly out into the unknown,
cruising noiselessly, its occupants already ghosts.
No flourished handkerchiefs acknowledge their departure;
the landlocked mourners stand nurturing their grief,
scanning the bleak horizon, their eyes blurring...
Poor souls! Desperate hearts! But this is hardly the last ship departing!
There is always more pain to unload in this sorrowful life!
The hesitations of lovers and their belovèds are futile,
for they cannot know where the vanished are bound.
Many hopes must be quenched by the distant waves,
since years must pass, and no one returns from this journey.

Full Moon
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

You are so lovely
the full moon just might
delight
in your rising,
as curious
and bright,
to vanquish night.

But what can a mortal man do,
dear,
but hope?
I’ll ponder your mysteries
and (hmmmm) try to
cope.

We both know
you have every right to say no.

The Music of the Snow
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This melody of a night lasting longer than a thousand years!
This music of the snow supposed to last for thousand years!

Sorrowful as the prayers of a secluded monastery,
It rises from a choir of a hundred voices!

As the *****’s harmonies resound profoundly,
I share the sufferings of Slavic grief.

Then my mind drifts far from this city, this era,
To the old records of Tanburi Cemil Bey.

Now I’m suddenly overjoyed as once again I hear,
With the ears of my heart, the purest sounds of Istanbul!

Thoughts of the snow and darkness depart me;
I keep them at bay all night with my dreams!

Translator’s notes: “Slavic grief” because Beyatli wrote this poem while in Warsaw, serving as Turkey’s ambassador to Poland, in 1927. Tanburi Cemil Bey was a Turkish composer. Keywords/Tags: Beyatli, Agah, Kemal, Esrar, Turkish, translation, Turkey, silent, ship, anchor, harbor, ghosts, grief, Istanbul, moon, music, snow



Lines for My Ascension
by Michael R. Burch

I.
If I should die,
there will come a Doom,
and the sky will darken
to the deepest Gloom.

But if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

II.
If I should die,
let no mortal say,
“Here was a man,
with feet of clay,

or a timid sparrow
God’s hand let fall.”
But watch the sky darken
to an eerie pall

and know that my Spirit,
unvanquished, broods,
and cares naught for graves,
prayers, coffins, or roods.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

III.
If I should die,
let no man adore
his incompetent Maker:
Zeus, Jehovah, or Thor.

Think of Me as One
who never died―
the unvanquished Immortal
with the unriven side.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

IV.
And if I should “die,”
though the clouds grow dark
as fierce lightnings rend
this bleak asteroid, stark ...

If you look above,
you will see a bright Sign―
the sun with the moon
in its arms, Divine.

So divine, if you can,
my bright meaning, and know―
my Spirit is mine.
I will go where I go.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.


Published as the collection "Daredevil"
Michael R Burch Nov 2020
Turkish Poetry Translations

Attilâ İlhan (1925-2005) was a Turkish poet, translator, novelist, screenwriter, editor, journalist, essayist, reviewer, socialist and intellectual.

Ben Sana Mecburum: “You are indispensable”
by Attila Ilhan
translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

You are indispensable; how can you not know
that you’re like nails riveting my brain?
I see your eyes as ever-expanding dimensions.
You are indispensable; how can you not know
that I burn within, at the thought of you?

Trees prepare themselves for autumn;
can this city be our lost Istanbul?
Now clouds disintegrate in the darkness
as the street lights flicker
and the streets reek with rain.
You are indispensable, and yet you are absent ...

Love sometimes seems akin to terror:
a man tires suddenly at nightfall,
of living enslaved to the razor at his neck.
Sometimes he wrings his hands,
expunging other lives from his existence.
Sometimes whichever door he knocks
echoes back only heartache.

A screechy phonograph is playing in Fatih ...
a song about some Friday long ago.
I stop to listen from a vacant corner,
longing to bring you an untouched sky,
but time disintegrates in my hands.
Whatever I do, wherever I go,
you are indispensable, and yet you are absent ...

Are you the blue child of June?
Ah, no one knows you―no one knows!
Your deserted eyes are like distant freighters ...

Perhaps you are boarding in Yesilköy?
Are you drenched there, shivering with the rain
that leaves you blind, beset, broken,
with wind-disheveled hair?

Whenever I think of life
seated at the wolves’ table,
shameless, yet without soiling our hands ...
Yes, whenever I think of life,
I begin with your name, defying the silence,
and your secret tides surge within me
making this voyage inevitable.
You are indispensable; how can you not know?



Fragments
by Attila Ilhan
loose English translations/interpretations by Michael R. Burch



The night is a cloudy-feathered owl,
its quills like fine-spun glass.

It gazes out the window,
perched on my right shoulder,
its wings outspread and huge.

If the encroaching darkness seems devastating at first glance,
the sovereign of everything,
its reach infinite ...

Still somewhere within a kernel of light glows secretly
creating an enlightened forest of dialectics.



In September’s waning days one thinks wanly of the arrival of fall
like a ship appearing on the horizon with untrimmed, tattered sails;
for some unfathomable reason fall is the time to consider one’s own demise―
the body smothered by yellowed leaves like a corpse rotting in a ghoulish photograph ...



Bitter words
crack like whips
snapping across prison yards ...

Then there are words like pomegranate trees in bloom,
words like the sun igniting the sea beyond mountainous horizons,
flashing like mysterious knives ...

Such words are the burning roses of an infinite imagination;
they are born and they die with the flutterings of butterflies;
we carry those words in our hearts like pregnant shotguns until the day we expire,
martyred for the words we were prepared to die for ...



What I wrote and what you understood? Curious and curiouser!


Mehmet Akif Ersoy: Modern English Translations of Turkish Poems

Mehmet Âkif Ersoy (1873-1936) was a Turkish poet, author, writer, academic, member of parliament, and the composer of the Turkish National Anthem.



Snapshot
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Earth’s least trace of life cannot be erased;
even when you lie underground, it encompasses you.
So, those of you who anticipate the shadows,
how long will the darkness remember you?



Zulmü Alkislayamam
"I Can’t Applaud Tyranny"
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I can't condone cruelty; I will never applaud the oppressor;
Yet I can't renounce the past for the sake of deluded newcomers.
When someone curses my ancestors, I want to strangle them,
Even if you don’t.
But while I harbor my elders,
I refuse to praise their injustices.
Above all, I will never glorify evil, by calling injustice “justice.”
From the day of my birth, I've loved freedom;
The golden tulip never deceived me.
If I am nonviolent, does that make me a docile sheep?
The blade may slice, but my neck resists!
When I see someone else's wound, I suffer a great hardship;
To end it, I'll be whipped, I'll be beaten.
I can't say, “Never mind, just forget it!” I'll mind,
I'll crush, I'll be crushed, I'll uphold justice.
I'm the foe of the oppressor, the friend of the oppressed.
What the hell do you mean, with your backwardness?



Çanakkale Sehitlerine
"For the Çanakkale Martyrs"
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Was there ever anything like the Bosphorus war?―
The earth’s mightiest armies pressing Marmara,
Forcing entry between her mountain passes
To a triangle of land besieged by countless vessels.
Oh, what dishonorable assemblages!
Who are these Europeans, come as rapists?
Who, these braying hyenas, released from their reeking cages?
Why do the Old World, the New World, and all the nations of men
now storm her beaches? Is it Armageddon? Truly, the whole world rages!
Seven nations marching in unison!
Australia goose-stepping with Canada!
Different faces, languages, skin tones!
Everything so different, but the mindless bludgeons!
Some warriors Hindu, some African, some nameless, unknown!
This disgraceful invasion, baser than the Black Death!
Ah, the 20th century, so noble in its own estimation,
But all its favored ones nothing but a parade of worthless wretches!
For months now Turkish soldiers have been vomited up
Like stomachs’ retched contents regarded with shame.
If the masks had not been torn away, the faces would still be admired,
But the ***** called civilization is far from blameless.
Now the ****** demand the destruction of the doomed
And thus bring destruction down on their own heads.
Lightning severs horizons!
Earthquakes regurgitate the bodies of the dead!
Bombs’ thunderbolts explode brains,
rupture the ******* of brave soldiers.
Underground tunnels writhe like hell
Full of the bodies of burn victims.
The sky rains down death, the earth swallows the living.
A terrible blizzard heaves men violently into the air.
Heads, eyes, torsos, legs, arms, chins, fingers, hands, feet ...
Body parts rain down everywhere.
Coward hands encased in armor callously scatter
Floods of thunderbolts, torrents of fire.
Men’s chests gape open,
Beneath the high, circling vulture-like packs of the air.
Cannonballs fly as frequently as bullets
Yet the heroic army laughs at the hail.
Who needs steel fortresses? Who fears the enemy?
How can the shield of faith not prevail?
What power can make religious men bow down to their oppressors
When their stronghold is established by God?
The mountains and the rocks are the bodies of martyrs! ...
For the sake of a crescent, oh God, many suns set, undone!
Dear soldier, who fell for the sake of this land,
How great you are, your blood saves the Muslims!
Only the lions of Bedr rival your glory!
Who then can dig the grave wide enough to hold you. and your story?
If we try to consign you to history, you will not fit!
No book can contain the eras you shook!
Only eternities can encompass you! ...
Oh martyr, son of the martyr, do not ask me about the grave:
The prophet awaits you now, his arms flung wide open, to save!



Sessiz Gemi (“Silent Ship”)

by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

for the refugees

The time to weigh anchor has come;
a ship departing harbor slips quietly out into the unknown,
cruising noiselessly, its occupants already ghosts.
No flourished handkerchiefs acknowledge their departure;
the landlocked mourners stand nurturing their grief,
scanning the bleak horizon, their eyes blurring ...
Poor souls! Desperate hearts! But this is hardly the last ship departing!
There is always more pain to unload in this sorrowful life!
The hesitations of lovers and their belovèds are futile,
for they cannot know where the vanished are bound.
Many hopes must be quenched by the distant waves,
since years must pass, and no one returns from this journey.



Full Moon
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation by Nurgül Yayman and Michael R. Burch

You are so lovely
the full moon just might
delight
in your rising,
as curious
and bright,
to vanquish night.

But what can a mortal man do,
dear,
but hope?
I’ll ponder your mysteries
and (hmmmm) try to
cope.

We both know
you have every right to say no.



The Music of the Snow
by Yahya Kemal Beyatli
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This melody of a night lasting longer than a thousand years!
This music of the snow supposed to last for thousand years!

Sorrowful as the prayers of a secluded monastery,
It rises from a choir of a hundred voices!

As the *****’s harmonies resound profoundly,
I share the sufferings of Slavic grief.

My mind drifts far from this city, this era,
To the old records of Tanburi Cemil Bey.

Now I’m suddenly overjoyed as once again I hear,
With the ears of my heart, the purest sounds of Istanbul!

Thoughts of the snow and darkness depart me;
I keep them at bay all night with my dreams!

Translator’s notes: “Slavic grief” because Beyatli wrote this poem while in Warsaw, serving as Turkey’s ambassador to Poland, in 1927. Tanburi Cemil Bey was a Turkish composer.



Thinking of you
by Nazim Hikmet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Thinking of you is beautiful, hopeful―
like listening to the most beautiful songs
sung by the earth's most beautiful voices.
But hope is insufficient for me now;
I don't want to listen to songs.
I want to sing love into birth.



I love you
by Nazim Hikmet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I love you―
like dipping bread into salt and eating;
like waking at night with a raging fever
and thirstily lapping up water, my mouth to the silver tap;
like unwrapping the unwieldy box the postman delivers,
unable to guess what's inside,
feeling fluttery, happy, doubtful.
I love you―
like flying over the sea the first time
as something stirs within me
while the sky softly darkens over Istanbul.
I love you―
as men thank God gratefully for life.



Sparrow
by Nazim Hikmet
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Little sparrow,
perched on the clothesline,
do you regard me with pity?
Even so, I will watch you
soar away through the white spring leaves.



The Divan of the Lover

the oldest extant Turkish poem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

All the universe as one great sign is shown:
God revealed in his creative acts unknown.
Who sees or understands them, jinn or men?
Such works lie far beyond mere mortals’ ken.
Nor can man’s mind or reason reach that strand,
Nor mortal tongue name Him who rules that land.
Since He chose nothingness with life to vest,
who dares to trouble God with worms’ behests?
For eighteen thousand worlds, lain end to end,
Do not with Him one atom's worth transcend!



Fragment
by Prince Jem
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Behold! The torrent, dashing against the rocks, flails wildly.
The entire vast realm of Space and Being oppresses my soul idly.
Through bitterness of grief and woe the sky has rent its morning robe.
Look! See how in its eastern palace, the sun is a ****** globe!
The clouds of heaven rain bright tears on the distant mountain peaks.
Oh, hear how the deeply wounded thunder slowly, mournfully speaks!



Keywords/Tags: Turkish, poetry, translations, Turkey, Attila Ilhan, Ersoy, Beyatli, Nazim Hikmet, Prince Jem, Divan, Istanbul, mrbtran

Published as the collection "Turkish Poetry Translations"
Emma Zanzibar Jun 2011
Helen.

Tell me about Turkey. Mustafakemalpasa. Bursa. Canakkale. Bandirma. 1973. Tell me about your insane exchange family: Ilhan, Sennur, Ahmet, and Canur. Falling for the family friend, Necdet—who died six short years later. Swimming in the Sea of Marmara. That infamous yellow bikini. 110 in the shade. Smelling the drying tobacco. Learning how to read the Koran.  Tell me please, Helen.
Ilhan  Apr 2018
Goodnight
Ilhan Apr 2018
Sleep well, dream better, for tomorrow is a new page, a fresh start.

Reinvent yourself, free yourself from limitation, fly and soar high into the sky away from the troubles that float within your mind.

Shine bright, long and show others all is not lost. Hope never dies and the human spirit is immortal.

Smile easier, laugh longer, forgive faster and make the world a better place.

If you can do this, then the world is truly worth living in, until you draw your last breath and your spirit lives on forever.

Until that day, I will say goodnight.

Ilhan A.
Bob B  Apr 2019
Death Threats
Bob B Apr 2019
The current president's rhetoric is
A cause for great alarm.
His words have the potential to cause
Other people harm.

Now a woman in Congress is
The focus of his abuse.
Once again, for his behavior
There is no excuse.

According to Trump, the congresswoman
Doesn't understand
Real life; what's more she
Deserves a reprimand

For words he took out of context.
He placed those words beside
Images of 9/11,
When nearly 3,000 died.

In such tweets, the president
Exposes his usual role
Of being a cold, hate-mongering,
Vicious Internet troll.

Real life? Ilhan Omar
Fled Somalia when
A ****** civil war tore
The country apart, and then

She spent four years in Kenya
In a detention camp, waiting
To seek refuge in the U.S.,
Her hopes never abating.

She did not have wealthy parents
To pamper her with cash
And give her millions of dollars to
Make a societal splash.

Now she's getting death threats--
Something that's not rare
When people hear a president
Who really doesn't care.

It seems as though by hurting others
Is how Trump feels fulfilled--
As though he doesn't care if his words
Cause someone to be killed.

This exploitation of anti-Muslim
Sentiments has to stop.
We expect much more from
The person at the top.

-by Bob B (4-18-19)
Ilhan Apr 2018
Let the cold drift over me ever so slow...

As slow as water sliding down a thawing icicle...

Let me sleep, for now and forever...

As a bear would sleep through the unforgiving cold winter...

Let the cold cover me from head to toe...

As a blanket on a cold winters night ...

No longer can I feel the bitter cold...

Hello coldness my only friend, this will be the last time we meet

Darkness falls upon me
.....

“Don’t leave me, for god’s sake you don’t give up !!”

I need you here, don’t leave me in this world! Fight it, breathe, breathe....

A painful gasp of air...my chest aches

My friend leaves me for now ...

We will meet again but not for now...

Now is not my time...

A blanket of warmth covers my body, my toes tingle, my heart beats as my masked friend floats away...

Eyes open I look into my brother’s blue eyes...

The look of utter despair and fear falls from his face, now filling with an overflowing emotion of pure joy...

Life is good for I am not alone...

Ilhan A
Ilhan  Jun 2018
Full circle
Ilhan Jun 2018
I was born with health and the whole wide world at my feet.

As a child I began with a sparkle in my eye and a spring in my step.

As a young man I dreamt of the accomplishments to be and the love of my life to be.

As a mature man the pressures of modern life stole away my zest for life and the sparkle in my eye sparkled no more. The accomplishments became the impossible, the love of my life never to be.

My mind askew, close to accepting a monotone, solitary existence, fate smiled upon me like a sunray warming my face as you did when we met.

We met, we talked, we fell deeply and happily in love. Marriage ensued as did the pitter patter sound of our childrens' feet.

The dreams and  accomplishments became simply achieved as the greatest accomplishment I had was meeting you.

Years passed, as an elderly man, I look back upon my life. The journey of life led me full circle back to realise the potential I had as a baby. The whole wide world was always at my feet.

Ilhan A.

— The End —