Five Poems

Haydar Ergülen

Open Sentence

sometimes nothing much comes out of an envelope
not a letter or even a single sentence
nothing seeps out, not dawn, not the long day's end
such letters go about the day like covered wounds
whosoever opens them, whosoever touches them, their hands ignite
sometimes words come to nothing, letters to nothing
sometimes sentences set letters alight

You-You-You Ghazal

you're blameless—reserve one of your rooms for me
hotels thieve souls but you're a pension

you're a river—one of your banks give me
if only deep water cleansed my body of shame

you're not one to settle down—a parable tell me
if only my tears hid the garden of sorrow

you're an envelope—some empty space send me
if only each of your letters left a desert within

you're the black death—establish a city for me
if only the soul embraced any plague besides love

you're love—a secret leave me
if only my eye did not covet another's passion

you're lovely—birth a mother for me
for a moment, be my child, if only the house be not troubled

you're a ghazal—recite a poem for me 

Ghazal Apart

although I've never gone, for your love alone I could go
to Kars—but only if I were to return with a parting of snow

they say people go to Muş without intending to return
I say go instead to love, where there's only parting

Ferhat no longer roams the mountainsides
it's our turn to head up the slopes and play his part

when there are no lovers, there can be no end to the affair
when there are no birds in Erzincan, my wings fall apart

the whole East is love, there's plenty of room to set us apart
whether Turkish or Kurdish, we'd be the lovers in the melody

it's not distance that tears people apart
I know my closest ones even when we're far apart

love's an extravagant reason for a poem—I hold mine apart
let this poor ghazal of mine sing the praises of being apart

you can only find love after having been apart
how sad—you're not even broken up by how we've split apart

if only it were not love that bound us but being apart 

Idyllic Ghazal

                                                  for the poet's wife, İdil

your eyes just now parted the rain
child-like big-like so hot-like

you should be a city or even a pomegranate
maybe Granada maybe September maybe red

are you body and soul of a summer night or what?
such an idyll such a sea such a breeze

your childhood held back you made a poet of yourself
as if for me as if alas ah as if it could be so

even love can't gets its fill of the singers of love
nor of praise nor of you nor of June

when ardor sleeps the soul wanders bare
thus ghazals thus grief thus mystery

your eyes just now parted with the city
brimming-over-like bashful-like gush-like

go now for this love and crush new cities against our hearts 

Brothers of Ash 

                                                  for the 37 martyrs of Sivas

I'm sending this letter straight to your heart
not written by hand but in ash
for the first time I'm writing your beautiful name
my brother, my brothers of ash
this envelope posted on nothing but the wind
on this long night of burning air

you were lighter than a stamp, thinner than paper, quicker than a letter
these are your own words, heavier than their own ash
July was aflame, poetry aflame, language aflame
as though your ashes would last longer than your memories
letters burn from them, envelopes burn, stamps burn
a crimson rose burns from them like my mother 

translated from the Turkish by Derick Mattern