The Sun by Georg Trakl

Each day the gold sun comes over the hill.
The woods are beautiful, also the dark animals,
Also man; hunter or farmer.

The fish rises with a red body in the green pond.
Under the arch of heaven
The fisherman travels smoothly in his blue skiff.

The grain, the cluster of grapes, ripen slowly.
When the still day comes to an end,
Both evil and good have been prepared.

When the night has come,
Easily the pilgrim lifts his heavy eyelids;
The sun breaks from gloomy ravines.

translated by Robert Bly

Jet-Black by İlhan Berk

One should describe you starting from your mouth
Youngster, your mouth is silk from China, conflagrations, a jet-black amber

Your mouth, a spring of ice-cold water, a general strike
A foolish sea throwing itself from one place to another

Your mouth is that kid who sells dark blue-winged birds in the Grand Bazaar
It’s a periodical titled Cornfield

These small, unpretentious rivers of ours are what your mouth is
Coming downhill a narrow street every day into a little square

Your mouth is “Time in Bursa City,” shyly roofed flea markets
Night as written in old Arabic

Kids, birds, summer times are all your that mouth is
Your mouth is a silken touch in my mind

translted by Önder Otçu

the spiritual aristocrat 2: for Rita/Zhihua

the story of how
you got your English name
you told me one day
a native English speaker teacher
you had at university
couldn’t pronounce all the names
of your classmates and you
that Zhi especially being troublesome
so he put all his favorite names
in a hat
or two hats actually
one for boys, one for girls
and you all picked a name
yours was Rita
and when I asked
why didn’t you change it
to one you liked better
you said no need
I’m used to it now
I remember driving you all over
looking for countryside
so you could photograph animals flowers trees
for the 3 photography classes you took
at Columbia
you would take forever
focusing
before snapping the picture
and the one time in South Dakota
when that buffalo charged you
you got too close
you loved that trip
the herd of wild horses
in North Dakota
the hours you spent
taking pictures of prairie dogs
vacationing in Maine
you would eat 2 lobsters for dinner
never tiring of shell fish
and the weekly dinners
with the Taiwanese
Ranan Phoebe Jerome Theresa Joseph and Snow
my famous lasagna
your shrimp and chives & eggs
the karaoke nights
at the Taiwan Center
your lovely voice in Mandarin
reciting Song Dynasty poems with Ranan
or singing Teresa Teng songs
your kindness to others
the thought you put into each gift
your obsession with detail
in every part of your life
from home decorations
to your preparation for work
to the attention paid to friends
and how my mother loved you
your fried rice a hit
at every holiday dinner
and at NCC
your Saturday morning conversation classes
the petitions students wrote
praising your discussions
your qualities as a teacher
how you would steal my Santa hat
at the annual Christmas dinners
your only fault perhaps
your driving record
but one can’t be perfect
in everything
though you ever the perfectionist
certainly do try
and finally
it’s about values
what you deem important
who you associate with
it comes down to
that old Chinese saying
you told me
you either fly
with the eagles
or stay on the ground
with the chickens
and when I see you
in my mind’s eye
during lulls in my day
I see you soaring
high above this petty world

Glass by Ahmet Haşim

Don’t think it’s rose, or tulip,
filled with fire, don’t hold it, you burn,
this rosy glass.

Fuzuli had drunk of this fire
Majnun, fallen with its elixir
into the state of this poem.

Those drinking from this cup burning
why, filling the night of love
with moans and mint, end to end.

Filled with fire, don’t hold it you burn
this rosy glass.

translated by Murat Nemet-Nejat

thinking about my father

I remember how he almost stumbled
going down the aisle
in Our Lady of Peace
to pray the Sunday
before his operation
he seemed frail to me
that day
and I was embarrassed
as if I had a right to be
this man who won 26 fights
one summer
who raised 7 brothers and sisters
because he was the oldest son
after his stepfather died
and then his mother
took them all in
to his home with my mother
newly wed
counted out his tips
on the kitchen table
all those years of his life
those tips that kept us solvent
inflated his salary
to make us almost middle class
the glasses sliding down his proud nose
his hand brushing his hair
as he squinted at the line on boards
cut lumber
put up a new kitchen wall
put a roof on the garage
panelled the bedroom
worked every day of his weekends
to make my mother happy
the odd jobs around the house
that only vacation in East Hampton
when he found peace fishing
or the times we went crabbing
at Montauk Point
he tried to teach me to box
when I asked him what dago meant
and told me never to let anyone
call me that again
if they’re bigger than you
he said
put something in your hands
a stick, a rock
anything
but don’t let anyone
disrespect you
and he looked me in the eye
said there’s only two ways you leave a fight
on your feet
or being carried out
on your back
but you never back down
and when I told him of the picket line
at White Castle
of the things being said at school
he said never judge anyone
till you’ve stood in their shoes
sometimes
after he died
I’d have these conversations
with him in my head
and I’d see those eyes
the way his hands moved
when he talked
the glasses sliding down his nose
the sleeves rolled up
the tie loosened
his voice louder than the rest
and I want to say
Dad, I’d like to know
or
Dad, how is it that
or
Dad, what do you think of
or
how come I’m older
than you ever were
why is that so
and I’m sorry
so sorry I pretended
I didn’t see you on the bus
that night I was coming home
and you sat in the front
reading the paper
the lines in your face
deep from all those years
of work
why was I so stupid
in my teenage years
to let that opportunity
slip by
I’d give anything today
this night
to sit on that bus again
next to you
and talk the whole way home