Maybe quiet
Gonca Özmen
Translated by Tozan Alkan
The forest prepares itself for the night
Slowly takes off its greenery

A bird's dream mingles with a cloud

The wind once more chitchats about the rocks
The wind lets us in on what she sees while blowing

I think that words run down like water
And rain sets the body's desire free

Maybe deaths and prayers confuse the time
A child's cut hand blooms somehow

O world! You have become smaller and smaller inside us

Now, a single room is enough
For the most crowded of loves

On the bottom of the lake
The silt of words
builds and builds
Incessantly, everything loses sound
- Even words are quiet sometimes

Translations from the Cunda International Workshop
All of the following translations from Gonca Özmen (except for the one by Güneli Gün, whose translation arrived on-line) were done by the participants of the fourth Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature (CWTTL) which took place as usual on the island of Cunda in Ayvalık, Turkey, in June 1-10 2009. The poet was invited to take part in some of the joint sessions with the translators.


A little while ago
I gave coolness to the hallway

I was like the inside of a house
I was dust on a table

I was at one wıth this world somehow

It was autumn
I was unshaded water

Would it chill you if I opened the windows
And left the words ajar
Your sweat lingers here and there
Its staın I know remains

The tear-stains I know remain

You were a promise
You dropped from my finger

I the mark of scissors
Still on the paper

Translated by Mel Kenne and Ruth Christie, “Taşlık” (from Belki Sessiz’den)


I read Dante I stripped a man white
A good child I lay down and took stock
My losses great, my gains many, my sins sweet
See how I’m reduced to bushes and brambles

I asked about birds I delved in the forest white
I stripped myself bare and headed out
How great to stop between your shoulder and evening
I looked long at distant mallows

I read Dante I kissed a soldier white
Once like a whole town asleep
I came back the echo of a stone you threw
The world sometimes, sometimes the world is one blood only

I sat then I found a mouth that would be silent
We mixed together forlorn and white
My book, my sacred text, my mixed child
I reek because of you

I read Dante I knocked down a state black

Translated by Ruth Christie and Mel Kenne, “Melez”.


It was moon time
Hidden in pillaged pain
Night was in search of lost sleep
Nobody saw
The sudden flight of the flesh

(Nobody knew)
The body’s fire begins without flames
Waiting and the sighs of dewdrops
                                 turn to ice
Bridges can’t touch the water
And water is always naked
                                 it can’t hide its wound

When weary lakes grew rough
In this gray city always a hold-up
Those loves were embers in the ashes
The voice took flight
Its echo multiplying fear
Increased the sadness of lonely rooms

Your eyes were a blue spelling mistake
Now let the waters speak your name

Translated by Ruth Christie, “Ay Zamanı” (from Kuytumda)


Once I was your purple grapes
Juicy and in globes

The world wasn’t in the measure of my arms
I turned away and loved my shame

While you smoothed out the night
I was an un-ironable coat

I was long, long, in globes
Growing, growing, I attached myself to your body

Once I smelled of sleep for you
I was the time you forgot

The world was our friend
You would not stoop and look

Besides, worldliness is not for everybody
With tears you purified yourself

Me… I remained the handkerchief singed at the edge.

Translated by Murat Nemet-Nejat and Petr Kucera, “Mendil”.



— I’m the one vanishing from your words

I waited in a lost language
And went on and on about a flaw

Bit by bit, I wore away
And became compassion for every silence

Why don’t you speak less crowdedly
And look rundown when finishing a line


— I am the one stepping out of your fears

Let birds, too, have their say
And, in winter’s distance, take shelter in my home

The wind tires from carrying longings
From breathing in a void each time it opens its mouth

Why don’t you see the accusation in averted gazes
And the childlike quality of water


— I am the one fleeing your joy

This revelry will break the circle at its centre
My mare nature will spur your night

I get hurt by a word with a fallen hat
By your boisterous loves and your god

Why don’t you love a limping poem, its flaw
And let time pass through your body

Translated by Arzu Eker & Deniz Perin, “Çıplak” (from Belki Sessiz’den).


Save me the statue of your feet
Save me that shy flower in your pot

I, who am oppressed by the whiteness of a page
The solitude of mute houses on my face

Wherever I look, this garden’s mess
If only I could pass through you
My sorrow’s carriage, its limping pace

Save me the awareness
Of this wound, our mortality

I, who am the birds’ migration time
The vicious snake you’ve been feeding

Oh, the spacious calm of unknowing

The wind brought fear
Set it between us, just like that

Break through the silent and start again

Translated by Arzu Eker & Deniz Perin, “Bana Beklet” (from Belki Sessiz’den).


I’m not a thing like you

You damaged my beauty
You tore, deep, you tired me

If I lie down I know
If I lie down you hope

A man unworthy of life
A marionette woman

Your voices are all mixed up
Your barbarity has found another

What’s it to you
My outer garden, the pebbles inside me

What’s it to you
The freshness of my back

The cold fountains I’ve been aching for
My words, my well-being, my weariness

And anyway will you please forget me a little?

Translated by Arzu Eker & Deniz Perin , “Siz,” (from Belki Sessiz’den).


A person looks at a yellow patience sometimes
However human a yellow patience may be

A person sometimes goes to olive trees
Feeds the horses, touches the curtains

Sometimes, too, a language dies
Or an ant smiles

A word goes and finds another
A walnut retreats into its shell
An insect suddenly forgets its voice

The evening, secretly, in the garden
In the garden secretly
A forever grows

The world belongs not to us, but to shadows

Translated by Deniz Perin & Arzu Eker, “Gölge”.


Slowly resemble a courtyard
It’s better this way

Nurture a coolness in your mouth
Study the language of windows

Comprehension’s roof is leaking, look, in every house
Unravel my writing
Rearrange all the sounds

Who taught us these sounds anyway
Who drew the sky

If you go, distant cities will smear onto my face
If you speak, my silence onto water

Lift the night off you
It’s better this way

Save a dream for your flesh
Dissolve into the void of words

Translated by Deniz Perin & Arzu Eker, “Bulutları Kaldır” (from Belki Sessiz’den)


The valley opened its secret to me
I found you in an endless plain
The instant the leaf was detached, the fig silent

I had a troubled, stunted side
I put you right there

Take those beautiful waters, those beautiful smells
The far away approached
Of course a woman poured a river inside

Stay on the other end of touching
Keep embracing the absence which you think is me

The wind blowing from both of us
Is gathering leaves anyhow

The leaves blowing from both of us
Is gathering the wind


With you I thought everything becomes quiet
Time tells its secrets to curtains
A trail keeps running through my body
I was those unending words
The waiting wood

I believed the sky comes down with you
A squirrel skips in your arms
And takes me to a stain
That’s how I believed

You were those tireless waters
Lively sounds
And this way I always filled myself in you.


You started let everything go by
The geranium blossom in me, let the sea retire

Let me also have a dream with seeds
Rivers run through me… wild figs

Because the morning has anxious lips
There are solitary places, ah! Darkness

If time’d already stopped let’s also be quiet
the light coming from your eyes not know how to turn back

In words, let the angst of the body emerge
let my face in the photograph no more grow old

You started let everything go by
keep quiet said the ant let time continue

Translated by Murat Nemet-Nejat and Petr Kucera, “Leke” (from Belki Sessiz’den)


I learnt compassion from water
put my hand in it, the flowing liquid
touching whomever, going wherever

Do not pick me up
I like to fall apart

Everything that happens looked at me
What happens… Well, what doesn’t

Waters do not return the dead
They sleep… not in their beds

What will happen will do so
yes it will do so

I’ll make peace with my own garden
with history though three arms missing

Discovery sometimes ends in defeat
I dwelt in your voice, in your still plain

And you died there
And I washed your body here

Translated by Murat Nemet-Nejat, “Olup Bitenler” (from Belki Sessiz’den)


Everyone sleeps to die
                                a little

Every woman once sat on a lap
                                             of tenderness

That pallor soothes the pain
Suffering is snowfall, it covers

Every road you make a turn on
                                              crosses my face

Packing my voice the night before
I’ll go again to one who is you

To one whose sleep is narrow
                                  whose sorrow is wide

To your neck
To the crossroads of our mouths

Translated by Güneli Gün, “Dört Yol Ağzı”


We were heading for a fall
Flocks of birds, lizards, water lilies

We were heading for a fall
Between us a whirlwind of anguish

To lie sleepless with the waxing moon is not for nothing
A regular life like combing our hair

There, among the olive trees
We stood, silent and spent

Ceylon garnets, bumblebees, a crooked sky
A warped plant, a river free to roam

We were heading for… the ache of time…

Translated by Ruth Christie, “Gidiyorduk” (from Belki Sezziz’den)


Take these ratta-tats Memet
Take them to the ratta-tatta man

Take this me Memet
Take this me to the meadows

Do I know what to do with me?
To me, I’m always a seabattle Memet

Take this me to the birds
Drop this me to the poor suburbs

Battling’s a backpack anyway Memet

Besides can a wound get old
Just keep me waiting again on a pillow-bed

Even the apple awaits its time

Just … me in an old oil drum...
Deeper even deeper Memet

Just watch what a carnival, the human race

Does the ratta-tatta man
Ever ratta-tat the ratta-tats Memet?

Best if you dump me in with the poor Memet
Take this me, throw this me off the minaret

Translated by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne


I peeled the orange Mustafa
I placed you at my bedside

A bed, look, no wider than a grave
Just like that deep down I’d offered myself

Thin sword, thin blood, slim death
This condemnation I invented myself

Dumma dumma dum in every man a woman

The one romping inside me had black eyes
One, Mustafa, doesn't calls out my name any more

They think this one’s a love poem too, so let them
Their umbrellas are large
They’re not getting wet

These skies must be pulled down Mustafa, pulled down
In people deep down lies their boundlessness

Keep me cool Mustafa
Keep me cool
In being alive lies the word's being

To return, those children in far off homes

Translated by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne

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