Gheith Al-Amine: Four Istanbul Poems

Sebastião Salgado, Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet), Istanbul, Turkey, 1999. Source: artsy.net

WE THE MORTALS

Away from what you leave behind

a five year old Amine in Guatemala

a tormented gaze in Ras Beirut

or bulging eyes missing the ceiling

eyelashes napping for eternity

your destiny awaits you.

Grief for the ones who cared

decomposition for your filaments

calcium your only index.

We are here to go.

The meaning of life is that it stops, said Franz

to dwell for a little while

draw a line or two

grow a plant, an ego

leave traces of our wills

the fruits of our loins

impressions of emotions,

then depart in style,

with a delusional spirit

and the wrong signature.

(Beşiktaş, Oct 7th, 2021)

 


LOVE AT TWO SPEEDS

When you fall into a woman’s dream

you are likely to be lost

no red flags waved in your face

and no alarm to wake you

limbs and abdomen

with male genitalia

ecstatically pointing to a black hole.

When a woman nestles you in her dream,

you are likely to be done for

no siren’s screech will startle you,

like an idiotic sailor

boring through a steel wall

bells deafening your ears,

while the ship sinks

(Şişli, Sep 27th, 2021)

 


A CEMETERY, A HOTEL AND SOME NAILS

I visited intermittently, on the same day

a Francophone cemetery filled with sculptures

and several times I went by

a memorial chiseled in semi-precious stone

with only the word “autel” inscribed there.

At its base, coming from the boutique hotel opposite

waves of foreigners with small shopping bags

kept offering libations of rare coins and Euro bills

leather-less wrist watches of solid gold.

By the marble stairway of the hotel itself

a large woman with curly hair named Nada

pointed at the burial site

reminiscing about her little sister’s hard life

priests attempting to exorcise her demons of depression.

Then I saw two more words carved on the gravestone: Nails Save

speaking of said sister’s holding onto life

or of what she hid in her forearm

or else a reference to the end of her. Nails Save

a scripture that brought no solace.

(Kadiköy, Sep 25th, 2021)

 


MEDITATION ON NEW FACTS

Sitting In the artificial penumbra

of a rock and roll bar in Kadiköy

properly named Rock’n’Rolla

trying in vain to read the sleeve notes

of a 70 Leonard Cohen album

Death of a Ladies’ Man

bringing it to my eyes

pushing it back

widening my eyes to bring the light in

but it’s no good

even when I move to the table under the spotlight.

Then this deep young voice:

It’s your lens, it has thickened

and will no longer give you

the focus you took for granted.

Then I saw the elegant hand, arm extended

handing me a card: Vamp & Ophthalmologist.

(Kadiköy, Sep 23rd, 2021)