Easter Sunday in Istanbul

Okay, I know I shouldn’t be drinking this early in the morning but if I only did the things I should do and avoided all the things I shouldn’t do, I wouldn’t have done half the things I did do, which, some people in my life, my brother Johnny being one of them, would probably say that’s just the point.

Anyway, here I am having just finished a spinach pie for breakfast and yes, having a cup of spiked coffee and a glass of red wine to wash it down, and thinking I have no one to answer to for the things I do or don’t do so what the hell. I mean, it’s Easter Sunday back in my old world which is actually the new world but my old world while I sit here in my sweatpants and fleece-lined slippers in my new world which is actually the old world but it’s all pretty relative, isn’t it?

So my point being it is morning here in my new world but still evening, late evening, in my old world where I would be if I was going to celebrate Easter Sunday properly with my brothers, with Rita, with Steve, too, now that his sister lives in Florida and though he’s Jewish, he never passes up a holiday dinner, any holiday dinner, with people he loves, at George’s house where there’d be Robert’s tomato sauce with meatballs that rival our mother’s and hot and sweet sausage, broccoli with garlic and lemon, probably some fried pork George’s in-laws will bring from Chinatown on the way out to the Island, and Cecelia’s cheesecake for dessert, several bottles of red wine because they know I’ll be there and the kids watching Disney movies in the living room while we all bad mouth the Republicans and discuss healthcare and the Mets.

But I’m not there, but here, where it’s just another Sunday morning, a bit overcast, but I’m not going anywhere, and plan to spend the day rereading No One Writes To The Colonel because, you know, Marquez died on Thursday and I thought it appropriate to revisit him today, and then watch a few movies, maybe In The Heat Of The Night or Inside Man or the original Taking Of Pelham 123 because they’re so NY (the last two, not the Sidney Poitier film) and I sort of miss NY today having read an email from Rita thanking me for the flowers but mentioning the opera and wishing I was there and well, it’s mornings like this, when it should be Easter Sunday but isn’t that I do miss NY more than a little bit.

So I’ll drink my wine with coffee if I want to, eat some more hazelnuts, play some Miles Davis on the stereo in the living room and maybe, just maybe forget where I am, where I’ve been, and only think about where I’m going.

And that’s really what Easter is about, isn’t it? Rebirth. Like a phoenix, one rises from the ashes and flies once again.

the rest of the story

we danced on tables
all night
during those wild crazy days
of summer
laid under a blanket
on the beach
whispering love poems
sat on the edge
of a volcano
eating barbecue
and counted stars
under a western sky
a lifetime ago
you were every woman
who ever accompanied me
in every story
on all the pages
of my life
for you are my last love
obliterating every other love
that ever was
with the passion
in my heart
for you
now if only
I could find you
the rest of the story
is already written

from Our Bread by Cesar Vallejo

And in this frigid hour, when the earth
smells of human dust and is so sad,
I want to knock on every door
and beg forgiveness of I don’t know whom,
and bake bits of fresh bread for him,
here, in the oven of my heart. . .

translated by Rebecca Seiferle

Dusk In The Country by Harry Martinson

The riddle silently sees its image. It spins evening
among the motionless reeds.
There is a frailty no one notices
there, in the web of grass.

Silent cattle stare with green eyes.
They mosey in evening calm down to the water.
And the lake holds its immense spoon
up to all the mouths.

translated by Robert Bly

from Music by Kabir

Kabir says: Every instant that the sun is risen,
if I stand in the temple, or on a balcony,
in the hot fields, or in a walled garden,
my own Lord is making love with me.

translated by Robert Bly

on insomnia by Rumi

When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.

translated by Robert Bly

Masses by Cesar Vallejo

. . .When the battle was over,
and the fighter was dead, a man came toward him
and said to him: “Do not die; I love you so!”
But the corpse, it was sad! went on dying.

. . .And two came near, and told him again and again:
“Do not leave us! Courage! Return to life!”
But the corpse, it was sad! went on dying.

. . .Twenty arrived, a hundred, a thousand, five hundred thousand,
shouting: “So much love, and it can do nothing against death!”
But the corpse, it was sad! went on dying.

. . .Millions of persons stood around him,
all speaking the same thing: “Stay here, brother!”
But the corpse, it was sad! went on dying.

. . .Then all the men of the earth
stood around him; the corpse looked at them sadly, deeply moved;
he sat up slowly,
put his arms around the first man; started to walk. . .

translated by Robert Bly

The Swan by Rainer Maria Rilke

This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

And to die, which is a letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan when he nervously lets himself down

into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each minute more fully grown,
more like a king, composed, farther and farther on.

translated by Robert Bly

I Find You by Rainer Maria Rilke

I had you in all these things of the world,
that I love calmly, like a brother;
in things no one cares for you brood like a seed;
and to powerful things you give an immense power.

Strength plays such a marvelous game–
it moves through the things of the world like a servant,
groping out in roots, tapering in trunks,
and in the treetops like a rising from the dead.

translated by Robert Bly

an expatriate’s wish

standing in bare feet
exiled in a distant land
seeking some comfort
with the aroma of mint
floating on the evening air


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