Middle East - Selected Poems

-: Author of the month :-
Hilal Karahan

Hilal Karahan

Middle East
It lulls the history on its feet since it gave birth to it,
it combs louse from its hair with human ribs

Skirts of the cities are scattered by desert winds
over stone courtyards, mosques, ancient squares,
vaulted streets which always lead to one another
:Smell of ground coffee, spice and gunpowder
roasts on same coals:
Sands cover the blood, but cannot wash…

Names of God written to the desert
are savagery, ignorance: children are born and die
famine is their destiny, diarrhea is their fate
:Grudge does not make a wish…

In the desert night
cold, belief and family consensus
warm up backing in one another
:Even if they are killed, Bedouin felt
does not penetrate blood ...

The women are bought and sold
in exchange for camel
they are circumcised from life:
Their faces are tattooed to men,
hearts are harvester…


On 13 May 2014, 301 women in Soma, a mining town of Turkey, were widowed… 

Between fears and odors
death walked with patience
without touching the stones
of the evening
Empty handed grief turned back home
the light has gone out of its eyes
the mouth of village scented malice
Doors shut
dispersed the doomsday
in four walled houses
women and children
a snake swallowing its tail end
blunt adze sharpening itself
timid at street, hero at home

Tell me,
how many deaths
can a country stand up to?
Into what a civilization turns
by passing through the sieve of pain?
Earth and sky are in blood
with all this pain
how can a human
can still be a human?
Getting used to,
that black hole,
within which life becomes dull
permanent insanity
Getting used to,
that damn frailty,
meaning of pain can’t be measured at doomsday
when time shakes the tablecloth
― “Death is the destiny of minig job*

It’s raining outside
Fire dying inside

Death in Aegean Sea

With its claws, death pettles
rubber boats crossing Al Sirat
certain hopes drop into fire ocean.
The world, whose sough
is disappeared, waves at
backstage like a curtain.

When morning has dawned,
refugee children trundle
into the middle of mettle:
Europe is looking blind, listening deaf.
If they can reach to doors,
it will accept 400 thousand refugees
to make lief toothpicks
for cogwheels of capitalism.
They will be hungry, thirsty
but still alive
if they can pass Aegean waves,
Greek police batons,
Hungarian wire fences,
Macedonian railways,
if they can reach Europe.
Middle East has shaken out
the tablecloth, paradise and hell
are got under foot
Every one lives in heart’s cage
watching the earth through wounds

4/ Presentation:
Tragedy of little child as a symbol of thousands’ desperation: After his family’s struggle to reach Europe, a Syrian child was drowned in Aegean Sea and his corpse was thrown to Turkish coast.”
Daily Mail, 3.9.2015

Refugee Tent

It was night, cold. She
crept silently to her husband.
Cleaning oily hair with her palm
she cleared also the fury.

Without shaking the tent,
waking the children up
he turned towards her face:
He was abashed at speaking
to his wife and splitted out
in her vagina.

Hungry children are in fire
the syrup that doctor gave
was not enough for two.
The parents are relaxed
to hear their coughing:
Thank God, today also they didn’t die.

Little, Black, Sheared Hands…

Days are the edge of a cliff
if it breezes, they will fall
upon the metropolitan area,
upon factories, skyscrapers, squares
upon mosques, bazaars
the ash will be scattered
They look like the roses opening in the cliff
little, black, sheared hands
that were branded by pricks and torn
by a sharp evening under heavy rains
even the God ashamed for what he created
Wind collects black wedding dress from the cliff
and brings it to cooling lap of her parents
dreams take to the doors unopened
houses are ever graves
Why is God still so far?

At 12th of February, 2015, in the town called Tarsus of Mersin, a 20 year old girl, Özgecan Aslan was unfortunately the last person in the shared taxi while going back to home from the school. She was kidnapped by the taxi driver. He pretended to abuse her. When she defied herself, he killed her by knife, he sheared her hands and than burnt her coarpse not to recognize.”
Milliyet Newspaper, 15.2.2015 


It was cold,
her legs trembled
when touching
nude to the irons

It was dark,
feeble light of lamp
was shining only
on tools’ steel

It was silent,
favor of tongue was lost
lips were dry,
fountains waterless
Where are promises,
when turned to coal
those diamond hours
She was such afraid
of heart beat that
her soul was behind mettle

Let her speak,
say, stop!

It is my body, my part
spirit attending my womb
how can I let it to frosty?

Let it say,
why did you give up my dream,
flowers you draw in my shadow,
saloons you fill up with my news?
which God’s altar is your womb you offer me?
how you passed quickly
how easy!
I nurse you with my blood,
oh, the son of light
which treasure can fill the blank in uterus
When the heart is uprooted
what is the loss of life
spilled from womb?
Let her say
it is my body, my part
take off your hand from our spirit

She was waiting,
soon her mind would fade out,
the steps of thoughts dancing in her brain
would not be heard
Cage of probabilities would open
with speculum, tenaculum and plastic canule
a new life possibility would go to trash
Can she have the power to turn off its light?
Can the blind future go on without its presence?

Room is dark,
her spirit is on the table,
sterile tools shine only
in feeble light

Boco Haram

My mother gave birth to me
excruciating for twelve hours
not to be your slave
She washed my hair with scented
soaps not to be covered
She faced my books not to be
burned at school garden
She put my name not to be kidnapped
with an old truck

They came at midnight
contaminated our lavender
virginity with their muddy boats
How far from the God
were the prays of guns
It’s amazing how the God could pass over this affront
why didn’t stand for justice
or raised caine at that moment?
Was the city a skittish dog,
pinching its tail, howled
until morning?

The streets streamed like wine
awfully smelled gunpovder…

Chibok, where words are over
evil has mangled charity in a night
Bearded villains who deleted the destiny
which makes us human, evolved to lice
In darkness history forges the decalogue
and melting hearts become steel with tears
4/ Presentation:
2 years ago (16.4.2014) in Nigeria, 275 Chibok girl students kidnapped by terorist Boco Haram group are stil missing. Desperate parents don’t believe in government to look for their children. For the last 2 years, suicide bombers used by Boco haram were mostly girls. These parents also know this fact. If someone says that their girls to be murderers, they don’t believe. She says ‘I gave birth to her. I will be happy even if she comes with a gun. Let her kill me.”
15 Nisan 2016, Stephanie Hegarty BBC presswoman, Mbalala

In Shadow of Mother

Suddenly the wind blowed
to roots of a plane tree
Loudly her eyes bowed
from two knots, life is free
When rain is waiting for
absentee fathers
Sparrows suck her eyes
seeking shelter in her branches
A child grows by eating
her heart out
The pain of teeth 
cools down in her winding sheet
A child grows like a snake
swallowing its tail end
Escape from her love cage
is through her tears



Twenty centimeter is the doorstep

can be taken by a single footstep

that is short on the earth

but long in the heart

in between going anda staying


The rooms open their doors to walls

the years back onto breeze

a whole life is passed at the doorstep

side by side without touching

in between love and shame


Memory of the skin defies the time

easiness to hold hand in hand

and warmness of hugging

is still going and coming in between 

how can pass by a single step

through your smell and breath


Heart is such deep that can love

everyone at the same time

it is unknown where the

separation begins and lasts

since habit is the God of memory

and may continue despite breakup


The doorstep is a single

footstep in between

future and past

* Words of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey

1 comment :

We welcome your comments related to the article and the topic being discussed. We expect the comments to be courteous, and respectful of the author and other commenters. Setu reserves the right to moderate, remove or reject comments that contain foul language, insult, hatred, personal information or indicate bad intention. The views expressed in comments reflect those of the commenter, not the official views of the Setu editorial board. प्रकाशित रचना से सम्बंधित शालीन सम्वाद का स्वागत है।