Expatria · Fiction · Istanbul · Television

Turkish Delight Volume 17: The WasteLands – A Poem

Desperate shards of grass

Gasp under an exhaust fog

Crumbling brown

Under the weight of industry’s poison.

Muslim schoolgirls with their tartans

And headscarves

Combat boots

Side by side burkah stilettos

The manicured face peering through

Ninja slits

Scanning the lingerie storefronts

Of crotch hugging jeans and

Knee high boots.

In a nation built on strategic alliances

I am alone

And trapped once my feet are out

The bulletproof apartment door

Heavy as the man who died

For gluttony’s sake.

Perching on a towering window seat

Vertigo makes it hard to eat

My stomach roils in this sterilised

Airport airplane office.

There is no air.

My face wrinkles

My eyes burn staring at the screen

Or the toxic landscape

Colored only by traditional turquoise

Bright colors apartment complex

High rises, no houses anywhere.

Mauve, taupe, chartreuse, blocks.

They do nothing to brighten the landscape,

Their colors blend into the grey and emerge

From the haze like an apocalyptic secret.

The silence of human traffic

The indistinguishable babble

Of foreign sounds.

From dark to darker

As the Istanbul day

Turns into Istanbul night,

The film of filth

Remains a hanging noose

Over the landscape.

I wonder how many died

To create such foulness.

Festering fumes of exhaust and cheap perfume

Mangled with cheap tobacco

Cloud the city of exhaust and hanging air grime.

Skeletal smokers faces,

Gauntly sallow

Choking down gulps of the only freshness

Existing in this wasteland.

Exile here means nothing:

Like Los Angeles we live on the fault lines

That lead to Hell.

Those who are needed are chased out

By masked gunmen while the useless

Rise up the ranks

Of a beaurocratic autocracy.

Alchemy becomes the newspaper

Science of editing:

Turning wordshit into gold

Inlaid with blood diamonds

The pulling teeth of writing

It is not safe

For eyes until the magic is over

And the magicians remain hidden.

Is it possible to reconcile

The hijab with stiletto slut boots?

In the heart of Europe’s darkness

Where women walk in fear

Where writers are scared to write

And the laws say you can’t speak out.

There is a law that forbids me this poem,

I could be imprisoned for an unflattering metaphor.

The dull tsunami roar of automobiles and human traffic

Is the sound of impending doom.

Time indeed

Is a thief.

But beware man,

A greater thief

Than any of time.

Trudge to work

Bleak landscape

The waiting

For any moment when

The ground opens up

And takes the Tower with it.

I want no part of this.

Work will set you free.

How free was I on the 13th tower floor,

No windows

No oxygen

How free am I now at home

Blooming lilac tree

Stray cats to tease

A path outside the door.

Where am I free?

In this place

Of great history

Thousands of empires

The only thing to do at night besides drink

Is watch CNBC.

And all of a sudden

It’s real important

What’s on TV tonight.

Fundamental public

Transportation takes you

Down the back roads of Islam’s deserted paths

Devoid of women

Full only of wolves prowling for outsiders.

On the bus

Little red riding heathen

Surrounded by men

Heart thumping

Knowledge that outside is just as dangerous as in

I am a walking target

I am frightened.

The driver won’t let me out

Unheeding my shouts

My door pounding screams

He smiles gleefully

Evilly babbling as he drives me away

I pray

He opens the door

I run

Now, anytime it is me and Turkish men

I feel threatened

I am terrified.

Men are menacing here.

On buses, on street corners, in shops.

Knowing I am outside their system of honor

Is knowing I am a moving target.

The bosphorus breeze

Of stagnant water and urine

The sulfur of rotting eggs

The wondering where air is fresher:

Climate controlled air conditioning

Or outside

Where the stench hangs over the city

In a shroud.

Careening in kamikaze taxicabs

Choking on tobacco smoke

And traffic exhaust

I am exhausted by the act of breathing

The simple travelling of 10 miles

From here to there

The 10 miles that tarry 30 minutes

And hour and a half of stop and go

The fired up engine for the go

Knowing that if I vomited

You would hardly notice the smell.

It might even smell better than this.

We only remember trees

When they are long gone.

A rich city

Held hostage by a man

Dead sixty years

In the grave

Yet the hold of his violence

Is unshakeable

The man who erased Istanbul’s

History in hopes of westernisation

Totally and utterly failed.

I am beginning to understand

That the headscarf is a quiet protest

Against the ghostly figure of Istanbul’s past

The man who blocks Turkey’s entrance

Into the future.

The quixotic figure

Of Ataturk

More legend than man

More story than warrior

More fiction than life

Still wielding a guillotine power

Over the people of this wasteland.

There is nothing

For me here

Not in the fridge

This cupboard

This city.

Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Prowling catlife

The tri-annual gang rape

The tortured eyes downcast

Fearful striding away

From any touch

Take the food and run.

Only males look back.

This city is the disappointment of broken promises

And fallen plans

The aching solitude of loneliness

Among so many millions.

Through the peephole I peered

A fishbowl view of others’ lives

Fearfully inspired

I kept time with tears

Wasted away.


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