Onur Behramoğlu in translation: Poetry


we opened our eyes saw the death we came everybody was crying

we stood up lit a cigarette
bathed ourselves took a shower
heard about sleeping and not waking up again

we asked:
the rich are more powerful, aren’t they?

a jet-black burden in the mother’s womb

when we exposed our faces to the rain
we realized the thing that makes the water rotten
here’s our heart suddenly
how delicate, new and naked
a trembling, wet branch of lilac

next to us a sparrow

a white shadow in darkness

sunny and bright


my temples ache I want to fight recklessly
in the shopping malls rattling sound of machine guns
allah allah scream while sallying out of trenches, that’s what I am
with my two hands I now shake hands with some of them
but know that some day one of my hands will castrate them
my other hand will leave without leaving an address
it’s the carrions with ripped abdomens that burst forth to my brain petrus wines and pukes are jetting out as they make love
yet women and men believers are dark from head to toe

                part one: the men who must be executed by shooting

                in our hands sling shot in our pockets dried raisins

- for them are cut out garments of fire, and because the hour is coming

               I swear by the daybreak-

are these, yes these must be my enemies, if I have any:
mossy sura ragged in praying that has become my kıblah
a woman, her body stripped naked, death throes in the soul
these, and also I, or what has remained of me

                part two: now hurry up and go to the third grade at school
                take your eraser and erase yourself, too

-then as for him who gives away and guards
                and accepts the best

don’t keep silent! as you keep silent the world will go on laughing
just like the helpless boys sitting on the pederast’s lap
we’re not speaking without prejudice we favor the bus stops   
certainly there will be someone to figure it out
suppose it’s the thousand and first recipe of a thousand recipe meal

part three: now all of a sudden the poet must deliver revelations
                and false prophets must commit suicide

-I swear by the fig and the olive,
                then those that produce fire striking-

because many are invited but few are chosen


they were so afraid

however I came not to destroy
but to complement

they were wounded, bleeding
deprived of loving selflessly
of dedicating of being carried away of blowing
doves no longer came to the windows
while toys were in sorrow for being childless

my words sounded uncanny
however I came not to destroy
but to complement

they had lost, were looking for it
their hearts were unaware
of the rivers of the cascades of the torrents
their faces were shadowed puckering blurring
while drifting in the merciless whirlpool
they looked into my eyes like enemy soldiers
however I came not to destroy
but to complement

they were annoyed, scared
of the homeworks of the school reports of passing the class
see how their stances resemble the puppets
while they perform their roles
I offered them water by my palms they slapped my hands
however I came not to destroy
but to complement

they were looking at their watches
while drinking their tea speaking keeping silent
watering the flowers making love dying
can’t feel the pulse? their hearts don’t beat
they drew wire fences around their solitary trenches
while the babies, sprouts of love were born just like rebellion
however I came not to destroy
but to complement

not to destroy
but to complement;
for the throbbing parts, with the yellow of the sunflower
for hemorrhage, the scarlet of the cracking dawn
for the judgment day’s loneliness, with the rainstorms
for desperate pains, with the eagle’s haughtiness
for the fathers in vain, with the smell of their daughters
for the mothers, with the valorous side of their sons
for the withering crops, with burgeoning wheat ears
for prohibitions, with the honey the first kiss leaves in the mouth;
I caught on fire, I shone
in order to fire up the extinct
with the blaze of the hungry and the naked
I came to complement
the torches that get to grips with the darkness


                                expect poison from the standing water
                                                                                           william blake

gives an impression that it has no reasoning
but a deep sorrow is secreted
which we chill as we witness
in the autumn’s nudity

left behind in yesterday what’s that thing
yours and mine are not correlated
its name is the past as we express
in the time’s captivity

just as the wine that is aging
your soul is scar-coated
after diffusing vanished the haziness
in its agility

finding the secret in suffering
wise poets have rightly stated
poison is what we amass
in comfort’s aridity

what is life sustaining is walking
rebellious disagreeing interested
every place we touch as we pass
has got love’s cordiality


                                    I’m the prophet of sorrows

my every glancing at the mirror
makes a spanked child fall down on my lap
recurs at the places where I touch

“I am either god or I am nobody”

can’t fit into the clothes, I grow taller all the time
I rip off the tailored caftans
in my bosom all the graveyards of the world
kiss with cypress trees

I’ve got no homeland, I’m in exile

I decompose the symphonies into their notes
in order to distort their meaning
in order to ornament them with new indications perhaps
I listen to the wounded heart of the one I love
it fights against the minors and the majors

I bleed from head to toes

I came to live not to take lessons
I fell in love with death, only it does not compromise
the rest falls from credit

I escaped from your paradise, I am in the hell
one morning
cutting off my beard just for myself
with my shaving so bright as to defeat death
I shall come to grasp you by your aorta
I shall whisper into your ear
what is secreted from kays, but revealed to mecnun

I shall pull off to take from your body
the life you hold by its edge like a piece of rag
I shall hang you by your neckties
which you are suffocated as you tighten

perhaps I am ordinary, perhaps a miracle

Translated by Neslihan Akkar


'I like to use the languages of the various arts – literature, music, theatre...I think that is the spirit of the modern global era.'- poet Ivan Hristov spoke to SJ Fowler of 3AM magazine about the evolution of the contemporary Bulgarian poetry scene.


Cosmin Borza discusses the work of Romania's 'Generation 2000' poets, including Radu Vancu and Claudiu Komartin in an essay at Asymptote.


At the Sofia Poetics festival, which was organised by Word Express participant Ivan Hristov, Scottish based poet Ryan Van Winkle caught up with fellow festival guests SJ Fowler and Tomasz Rózycki. To hear Fowler and Rózycki discussing their work and reading some of their poetry, listen to the Scottish Poetry Library podcast here.