Two Poems

Jenan Selçuk, (b.1974, Cyprus) has graduated from East Mediterranean University, then lived and worked in Germany and Britain. His poetry has been published in Turkish, German and other European magazines; together with the other members of the Subconscious Gang, he puts out the underground literature and art journal Isırgan. He has two volumes of poetry, Kaza (2003) and Haz (2007).

The Date-Palm

I am a tree, a date-palm
                      in some Mesaoria cemetery.
 Civilisations buried in my shade,
                                   their bones
                                                   my roots.

Forty curly-haired slaves rowed
the boats
                     which brought us from Egypt.
My grandfather a Hellene wearing an earring
my circumciser an Ottoman barber
a boy kidnapped into the Janissarie
                                   a pederast.
I was apprenticed
to Aphrodite in spring
 Zenon in winter

You may not have realized!
I was the model for the Lusignan architects.
Inherited from Venetian merchants
this sweet tongue,
                          chasing pleasure

A creation of the British
my exhibition
of split personality syndromes.
               From time to time
my presumption that I am a human being,
the more I am licked
               the more I hold onto lies.

Stitched of flag cloth, a straightjacket
made in Greece
                        made in Turkey:

I see war                  when I look in the water!

Manchester, 2002
From Kaza (2003)
Translated from the Turkish by Aydιn Mehmet Ali, with the poet


The cadaver chews on the growing nails
of days getting short.
                                                      Deeper, deeper
                                                                        until it draws blood.

The false teeth of winter chatter outside.

He watches the dripping water
                                    He doesn’t tell anyone that
the sea flows
                         from the taps
                                              of this city.
He keeps wondering
why he wonders about
things no one cares about.

He caresses the dust
of plastic flowers in plastic pots
spreads his ointment of medicinal herbs
                                                                        on his balls before going to bed.

Rain-loaded sailing boats
move away in the dark
from the illegal ports of his country.

Orion rises
                  twisting from side to side
       like a semazen* with arms open
                                                                                 to the skies.

* Participant in the Sema ceremony of the whirling dervishes.

Tamassus, 2007
From Haz (2007)
Translated from the Turkish by Aydın Mehmet Al

Aydın Mehmet Ali was born in Cyprus, has lived most of her life in London and recently returned to Cyprus. She is an international education consultant, project manager, researcher as well as an award winning author. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. Her publications include a short story collection, Pink Butterflies/Bize Dair (2005).