Prayed for you today, though I don’t know why.

Do you need a prayer?

Translation: “There is no happiness greater than to say, ‘I am a Turk.’”

Procedure: 1. Rank happiness, scale 1-10. 2. Say, “I am a Turk.” 3. Rank happiness, scale 1-10. 4. Repeat.

Results: Inconclusive. Further experimentation needed.


My animal soul grew powerful

I controlled it with practices,

and boiled some more,

and boiled once beyond that,

and became your teacher.


Stephen Kinzer knows shit:

"Peshawar has for centuries been a dazzling center of espionage and intrigue. It is so dangerous that a man can be snatched from the streets and made to disappear without a trace, but also so safe that money changers doze in front of great bundles of cash. Vendors in the labyrinthine bazaar sell mountain lion pelts, peacock feathers, juicy melons, and what they say is the world’s finest heroin. Spies are everywhere."

Then again, I know shit.

In the gutters — thankfully it was not too warm today — the skinned carcasses of cows, sheep and goats lying in their own offal — the air pink and buttery — awakening within me a feral instinct to straddle between my thighs a writhing, bleating lamb, feeling its jackrabbit pulse beneath my left hand as I cup its chin and raise its head to stare me straight in the eyes, the knife in my right hand, then its life gushing forth, warm and persistent, against my coveralls. From two miles away, the half-wild dogs smell the blood and start running into town but the flies will always get there first. Don’t forget to face southeast. Is this what they call bloodlust.

Happy Kurban Bayram. I love it here.

Five miles from the Syrian border, riding in a dolmuş with six teenage rebels — unwashed and pimply, itching to grab their AKs from the safe house in Harran and cross back to Aleppo — and a woman clutching a baby so paleö so pockmarked, so limp, its tiny limbs cracked and blistered by the Anatolian sun — I’ve seen dead-looking babies before but this one took the cake — was it dead please let it not be dead please — three hours into the bus ride the baby wakes up bawling I’d never prayed for a baby to start crying before but oh thank god — the Syrian kids stop the bus ın the middle of the deserted highway and run off into a field of cotton, taking the shortest route back to the border. They’re carrying laundry, knives and baklava, singing Bollywood songs, bragging about the firefights they’ve been in. Ahmed, the high-and-tight with a little English, says he’s killed someone. But they’re all named Ahmed and from the back, just their torsos rising above the cotton, I can’t tell them apart.

Rain ditty.

Dear sir,

You told me

(your pearly whites pinwheeling across a blue-green screen

gesturing slickly first west now south-east then a reach northward —

the exhaustion of watching you is my morning calisthenics)

That today it would rain.

"Today, it will rain."

An apt assessment.

I pulled on my boots, unearthed an unbroken umbrella, and considered myself prepared.


You did not tell me

That the cats would scowl peevishly

Squashed and spiny, from under my porch

And swipe at my ankles as I left the house.

You never said

That the herded hordes would abandon their conquest of the city walls

Retreating, licking their wounds, to damp dark cornices

And mosques made fetid by thousands of moist socks.

You neglected to mention

That mist bearing pine and cypress censers from Belgrade Forest

Would muffle the stately passage of tankers on the Bosporus

(And I believe your job description — “Soothsayer” — requires you to add that tomorrow

The strait will present a vivid turquoise.)

Perhaps it slipped your mind

But I, at least, have noticed the be-caftaned alleyway spectres

Have a distinctly bedraggled air.

(I understand, now, why he is called Selim the Grim.)

I will grant

It is unnecessary to explain that no amount of rain could wash the oil

From Dolmabahce’s slopes. But at the very least

(Would it have been so onerous?)

At the very least

You might have advised me

How slippery marble staircases become after a downpour.

Thanks, Erdoğan.
Meanwhile, at the Kariye Museum: Byzantine mosaics remind me forcibly of WPA-era murals.

Thanks, Erdoğan.

Meanwhile, at the Kariye Museum: Byzantine mosaics remind me forcibly of WPA-era murals.


I may or may not have joined the Kemalist Ideology Club on accident. Accident? Fate.


…for all things,

In your company, can be themselves: historic deeds

Drop their hauteur and speak of shabby childhoods

When all they longed for was to join in he gang of doubts

Who so tormented them; sullen diseases

Forget their dreadful appearance and make silly jokes;

Thick-headed goodness is for once not a bore.

No one but you had sufficient audacity and eyesight

To find the clearings where the shy humiliations

Gambol on sunny afternoons, the waterhole to which

The scarred rogue sorrow comes quietly in the small hours:

And no one but you is reliably informative on hell;

As you whistle and skip past, the poisonous

Resentments scuttle over your unrevolted feet,

And even the uncontrollable vertigo,

Because it can scent no shame, is unobliged to strike.

Azrael (سرف سرف )

get out of my head

& stop stalking my dreams