yüreğimin dili (“the language of my heart”)

Bunu biliyorum—
I know this
at the very least
have known indeed
for quite some while
that I too was born
into the wrong time
much too soon
and far too late.

Benim doğumda—
at my birth
words fell from my lips
in an unnatural tongue
scattered noiseful
and achingly opaque
and ever since
I have seething sought
a most painful compromise.

our words
are more than bandied intent
but an egress of the soul
to a translucent realm
of purest feeling
and emancipated hope
language honestly expressed
conveys a private truth.

Keşke ben—
if only I could
your language longing speak
and evoke the voice
of an honest poet’s heart
then could these words
of mine in a tongue derived
caress your soul
as they do mine:

seni görünce
yüreğim titriyor


prensesim (“my princess”)

I know I shared this one only recently, but wanted a chance to record it as well for any who might have wished to hear how this sounds in Turkish:

yüreğimin sonsuz amiri
yıldızların parlayan şiiri
her renginin mükemmelliği
bütün soruların en doğru cevabı

inan, sana yüreğimi
sonsuza dek veririm
öldüğümünden sonra da
durmadan veririm sana

göklerin güzelliği
senden akar bir nehir gibi,
kayığımın içinde geziyorum
hep seni beklerken

my princess,
eternal master of my heart
shining poem of the stars
perfection of every color
truest answer to all questions

my princess,
believe, to you I give
my heart forever
and even after I die
ceaselessly I give it to you

my princess,
the beauty of the heavens
flows from you like a river,
and within my boat I journey
waiting ever for you

[Feel a need to apologize, just in case–it has been quite a while since I’ve written anything at all in Turkish, let alone a poem. So if I have made shameful mistakes, please forgive me.]

Audiobook: Istanbul: Turkish Travel Phrases for English Speakers.

25 June 2019

I am pleased to announce the release on Audible of my first Audiobook. It was a pleasure to return to Turkish–a language I have not had much of a call to use for sometime now–to assist Sarah Retter in the production of Istanbul: Turkish Travel Phrases for English Speakers. The Best 1.000 Phrases to Get Around when Traveling in Istanbul. This is a very useful travel book for English speakers visiting anywhere in Turkey, not just Istanbul, phrases to use while shopping, going out, renting a car, doing business, and so on. It is available on Audible here. Happy travels, all. İyi yolculuklar.

i am the reed

i am the reed that quietly grows
along the bank
for years i sweetly swayed
with the wind
until a blade slashed my being
and i despaired
holes were zealously bored
into my drying skin
i felt this shell of existence
precisely impaired

but then lips caressed me
and eager fingers
played across my surface
and suddenly
there was life within me again
a voice
that was not truly the player’s
but my own
a sound of longing that was
clearly me

for years i stood along the banks
and said nothing
touch me again my beloved
and breathe
your breath searches my being
filling my desire
breathe into this instrument
and make it sing
breathe and feel this flesh
evoke the stars

2011.09.21 SLC.Ney Practice

my struggling attempts to learn the ney


uzaktan duydu yüreğim
yumuşak bir aryayı duydu
sakin bir sabahı andıran
doğal bir sesi duydu
ve bunu dinleyip uğraşıyordu

uzaktan gördü yüreğim
aydınlık bir umudu gördü
pırıl pırıl parlayan
gecenin ilk yıldızı gibi
ve ona bakıp uğraşıyordu

uzaktan sevdi yüreğim
o kadar güzel bir kadını sevdi ki
gece yalnızlığının soğukluğunu
defeden yeni doğan güneş gibi
ve onu isteyip uğraşıyordu

Divane Aşık Gibi

Quite some time ago, a group of musicians got together to share some rather traditional pieces of Turkish music, the kind of pieces that have been played and sung and reinterpreted by a great number of artists over the years. But there was a twist to how these musicians handled their interpretation. They were spread out across the country, bringing together not only a diversity of locations and voices, but styles and intruments that had never been used to play these pieces. Their most recent work has included musicians in several countries — seems the movement is growing.

I have shared this music before. So why do it again? Well, it’s not just that I enjoy this particular piece, but that I truly enjoy the diversity of voices and sounds. Worth sharing, I think. Worth encouraging when many voices come together in such a creative act. This is a video of the first of (currently) four works, published under the title of Doğa İçin Çal (Play for Nature). This piece is called Divane Aşık Gibi.

Turkish proverbs

My apologies for the rudeness of this particularly colorful proverb, but I just had to share it. You see, I was chatting recently with someone about how willing, even eager, people are to go still deeper into debt, so long as it means they can keep up with the latest expensive gadgets and games, the popular gizmos, the chance to text a friend sitting across from you while watching a music video and downloading a movie at the same time.

I was reminded of this pricey addiction to our high tech yet even more highly superficial wonderland–why save up money to travel around the world when you can more quickly and conveniently view trimmed and trilling snippets of it on YouTube?–when I came across this proverb today:

Ayranı yok içmeye, atla gider sıçmaya.

“He has no yogurt to drink, yet he uses a horse to go take a shit.”

In other words, he hasn’t got a penny to his name, yet he still tries to show off.