The International Literary Quarterly

August 2008


Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
David Dabydeen
Alice Fulton
Richard McKane
Jonathan Morley
Michael Schmidt
Tuğrul Tanyol
Alan Wall
Marina Warner
Edwin Williamson
Xu Xi
Gao Xingjian

Founding Editor: Peter Robertson
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Consulting Editor: Marjorie Agosín
Consulting Editor: Jill Dawson
Consulting Editor: Beatriz Hausner
Consulting Editor: Mimi Khalvati
Consulting Editor: Suzanne Jill Levine
Associate Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
Assistant Editor:
Jeff Barry
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Issue 4 Guest Artist: Arturo Di Stefano

Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture.

Three poems by Tuğrul Tanyol

Translated by Richard McKane


Who’s there

Canyons call
in your eyes
and you are in the lands that end in rains.
Two small rivers cry
in the depth.
You can’t knead
a whole day out of pain.

You will fashion life passionately
there in the fading branches
of a little plant
and beyond that you will see the revival
of the steppe, mountains, seas,
infinite, dark, stagnant
and that startling emptiness.

Daylight should not groan with pain all day,
darkness should not mount the clouds and rove,
the carnation bleeding in your heart
should lean over and wipe your tears.

Canyons call in your eyes
there where the painful winds
never finished their lacework,
you will learn to live
completely alone in the middle
of heavy, unclimbable, hard rocks.

Don’t forget, no one can turn back rivers.
You can’t intimidate pain with pain,
you can’t weave sunlight with clouds
and call it night
change is the law of the universe,
death is the sculptor of virtue
and on those lines life
is happy, carefree but serious,
canyons call in your eyes.


Have you ever seen such a sky?
I never have.
A yellow rain is falling on the streets
mixing with the dust.
A Tuesday is gently dripping
from the cage on the balcony.
Have you ever seen such a Tuesday?

I’m drinking tea
from a glass in a silver holder,
I’m warmed inside by your love.
There are heavy-winged clouds in the sky
and a lone bird flying.

Time passes
on such a day on your own
in the crystal silence:
have you ever seen time?

My cigarette smoke makes rings,
my pen has become a shadow in my hand.
Suddenly the light beside me goes out.
Have you ever seen such light?

Stretching out to the silence of the room
I look at the twilight.
Things we’re not used to are happening today:
I miss the sky
different and the same.

Such a Tuesday, trembling on the wind,
clouded with rain.
Have you ever seen such a Tuesday?



Every poem starts with a bit of a lie
and every poem is part of dying.
So one by one I send out my stone chess men,
what’s left in my pocket,
and no war is lost
till the death of my last pawn.

I could bring you mirrors no one has looked in.
You look at your back which is always turned.
You are a pathetic, paltry man, cooling the night on your forehead.
Leave the false light of the lamps.
Now death is behind
every door you open, it’s waiting
like a soul without a candle.

I paused there
and put my head on your knees.
My head was as heavy as winter.
I saw stone everywhere,
stone and only stone.
(Your knees are a stone wall to beat my head against)
Don’t forget every poem starts with a bit of a lie,
and anyway
what is a dead man if not a gravestone?

We carry impossible suicides in our pocket,
and a pathetic, suffering, copy of a hero in our arms.
We knock at doors that have been knocked at, opened and closed,
and we always set our watches to the wrong time –
(and that is why even the murderers
wander among us without handcuffs.)

I take two more paces:
I have nothing left to say
(and I have not the age-old wisdom of a manuscript to give you,
a fragment of copper that has survived from secret palaces)
My memories are snowbound and impassable
and every poem is a little death,
when one by one friends retire and go.

Every poem starts with a bit of a lie
in the twin loneliness of being and non-being.

Heh you!
Pathetic man stripped like an understudy,
walking with even pace,
don’t step into the wrong dreams:
stop toeing the line.