Café in Bodrum
The seaside patios are halved of people, scuttled with
upturned chairs. Ribbons of the laid-back cooling tide
stroke the harbour wall, levelled out
and listless as tourists’ thoughts, which are nowhere
Down market lanes, scooters ferry
hot pide and hoick dry coughs
of grey exhaust over the interlocking stones. No
future can be delivered so quickly, despite
party slogans tied to each lamppost and awning
for the last stretch of the coming election,
though History’s narrowed eye might pause to blink
over a cloud of froth on a cappuccino
or these yacht-masts jabbing the azure.
Mausolus is too far to care. His famous tomb,
once a Seventh Wonder, couldn’t
outlive the pestle of invasion and earthquake.
A few fluted
column drums and troughs for drainage preserve the age;
now only the mind can descend these outlines of stairways
to pass through imagined thresholds
into some deserted notion of repose. We keep
our backs to it, as if for leverage, and meet
the heat of the sun on our faces. Piped-in pop music
stops mid-song as the call to prayer begins,
the flags sigh in the silence, lift and drop—a crescent,
a star, a crescent, a star—
as a cat yawns, scratches its ear, and squints
from the cool earth in a terracotta pot.
Home by Christmas
We had abandoned the west side of the river.
Mortared forty times in ten minutes with no consequence
but the sight of dead civilians. The first few doubled me over;
I tasted breakfast, but soon learned to permanently wince,
stitch disgust across my face, and talk hard, so there wasn’t proof
of weakness next time. I remember the sand and sun, the fragile walk
of dawn patrol under bleached beige-yellow skies, nostalgic for a non-tin roof
or mid-west thunderhead. We played paper-scissors-rock
to see who’d kick the doors in, while the others emptied their cartridges
into darkened rooms. They called in strikes. How the air would drone and shiver.
What happened, ended out there beyond the low, dry banks and ridges?
I don’t know. We had abandoned the west side of the river.
I watch the sunlight drip behind the straight
high chunk of office block. The avenue tenses,
like a face. It’s the blurred half-hour of non-alibis
when no one’s claim to be any place
might stick. Lobbies roll the sped-up film reels
of people through revolving doors, and collector
lanes circulate like lazy pin-wheels.
It’s the blurred half-hour of possibility, when
work’s the scapegoat we’ve stuffed away, like a gagged
and groaning body in a trunk, and the stranger who waits
there with a spade, in suspense, might be the life
we’re rooting for. Both are angry, and afraid.
SENTINEL POETRY (ONLINE) #42
The International Journal of Poetry & Graphics...since 2002
MAY 2006 ISSN 1479-425X Editor: Amatoritsero Ede