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Odors [Kokulon]

ISSUE:  Spring 2002

I am chilly, nephew.
I can smell the fire
from the neighbor’s home
and hope to get its heat.

Don’t say that flames have no odors,
they do, nephew,
but only the truly cold can understand.

Don’t wander the marketplaces
or stand before the stores. Don’t look inside:
the stench of lavish fabrics and scents of rich women
are shameful. Worse, sinful.

From far away lands
I can smell the spices of civilization.
Only a captive’s nose knows this;
we can smell the odors of freedom first.

I’m feverish nephew,
and I can smell the ocean’s salt.
I can feel the cool breeze
of the news briefs.

Ali Yuce
Translated by Sinan Toprak and Gerry LaFemina


Water, don’t drown me
because I didn’t build
the golden pipes that trap you.
And don’t jab your finger at me, fire,
for I didn’t lie
in the golden cradle.

Don’t chase me, avalanche;
I didn’t lay the asphalt
of these serpentine roads.
Don’t drown me, oh ocean,
I’m not the one who paid five bones for the waves
only to sell them for ten.

Don’t hang me, gallows,
you know I’m not guilty
for these crooked laws.
And black soil, don’t beckon me.
My love extends beyond the universe
so it wouldn’t fit your embrace.

Fly from heart to heart,
my birds; may your thousand wings
bring humans to humans.
Be jealous of me, my judges,
for I did not commit
these beautiful felonies.

Fly from lip to lip,
my birds; with your thousand wings
take my warmth and sow
the age of despair.
Death, be jealous of me:
I bit the universal apple.

Ali Yuce


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