Four Animals and other poems

Four Animals and other poems

Six poems by Turkish poet, actor,visual artist,editor and translator Erkut Tokman, translated from Turkish by İdil Karacadag, as part of World Poetry|Prose Portfolio (WPP),curated by Sudeep Sen 

Four Animals

In the spirit of the four animals roaming within us;
for Nalan

1. Butterfly

A life gave the go by fluttering,
Like the butterflies you said,
Before being understood
One by one your words died
Where did we fly at last
From heart to heart?

In colour money
Secluded itself inside a wound,
Passed by being lost
And reborn 
At brief moments
Disguised in deep scar 
Forsaken by sacred destiny
In the valley of dead butterflies.

2. Starfish

A profound whirlpool in the infinite blue
unremembered sound of the sea within me
It is a seashell whispers to the pebbles,
An old wind would not drag it along
To the rocks that carved by my soul,
I called out to the whirlpool within me
Stubborn as a starfish
To reach that
Distant harbour…

3. Tortoise

Perpetually alone…
That’s the animal within me
Carrying a burden what I’m unaware of;
For centuries in a slow trudge
I gaze at it
Making its way into the innocence
Passing through a distance
While a man through a memory purify 
His sins

The serenity of home…
That is what I bring out of me
Secluded itself inside World
Despite its murkiness
Knows its own light
On the way through that walk,
A wayfarer’s intuition
Opens out itself
Bears its home inside…

From one end to the other, the world by itself
İnvites me rolling out and in
Kneads the dough of my soul
I bake it all like a loaf of bread
To share with others at my table of life,
This is the delight of being alive!

4. Elephant

Passing by a wind…
That heaviness waits motionless
My body becomes numb as in all manner of elephant
I wish I could tell you about the burden on my back
That Indian king; the holiness,
Caravans, silks, golds…
With all the world’s magnificence
I traverse that road,
Is that getting wind of a legend?
Or reaching to East, the ancient?
Hidden lava within a volcano,
Destiny of fire, overflowing through a sea
As a river?
Invisible to its eternal source, that universe
By its spirit and the body
Search for what is God in all places?
Revelations on this gorry earth
Concealed in that seal of soul,
Is the humane, humanness?

The shrill of scream in a void
Appears alongside the echo of the lost
The one I’ve forgotten remains quiet,
Descending onto us
In the trail of a shadow…

Born into a flock and dying alone
This is our termination!
The ground that trampled down by heavy steps
Feels sore about what unfolds
Yet this is the unpreventable,
Written on
Distant time, immemorial, days gone by and future,
Face with us always anew…

An Old Guest

Embodying the mute language
dark matter merging the universe
diffusing into infinite space,
between you and me

An utopia hidden therein dust cloud
a dream got pregnant aching within our souls,
bounded by milestones of the ages 

Since incomplete hypothesis based on an equation of existence
An arrow sprung from its bow targeted our hearts 
Inescapable metaplasia of r-evolution
Yet it has a grievance 
amongst the worlds that we imagine

In the end once again you have invited in
the one knocked at humanity’s door
Is the oldest guest; solitude!
A lost wind on the geography of your mind,
A memory scorched by the heat of forgetfulness
called life which you can’t get away from
the flames of soul within. 

Dog Awaiting Its Owner

A tree can get lonely too
When it sheds its leaves,
As its branches laid bare

So can a person,
Devoid of love or lies

What if a society gets lonely
Alienated by lies, plunder, betrayal?
Inside out, bemused and
Tied up in knots
On a post at a corner
Like a dog awaiting its owner


How would you recognize a leaf dried on its branch 

suddenly drifting slowly down to earth from the sky 

one by one

such as thoughts in which are rooted memories

drenched by rain on an autumn day, one said 

on the harvest of existence it is called a human being

a laborer on earth between death and birth

little by little yielding within emotional weeds 

getting acquainted with time by growing older 

as becoming a plain and mere truth facing at a mirror, 

slowly downwards  from the branches of a tree

by falling

If I tumble don’t be afraid, if I bloom, don’t be tantalized!

Drifting along a wind, agonized soul

As if crushed under feet  like grapes

Such as the taste of bitter cheap wine 

inducing serious crimes in society 

in total loss  or one by one


for justice I fall down, for the people I am germinating

On the reflection of a leaf 

from a fractured mirror at one side light

on the other, dark

inwards wounded hearts,  a languid dilemma

of unscrupulous human being

Its perpetual delay, despite enlightening 

In mind with injustice

I fall on crime I  arise by revolting

No matter if I get crashed  and cracked under feet

do not  forget this is  enduring treachery 

returns constantly in cycle 

Imprisoned in bloodshed and bayonet

Yet once again here I am refreshed at the top of a forest!

Truly, where are we headed?

How does one arrive on Earth?
Maybe from the east
Maybe from the west
Maybe from Anatolia

Truly, how does one arrive on Earth?
Perhaps through you
Perhaps through me
Perhaps through loneliness

How does one arrive on Earth now?
Maybe on a boat from Istanbul
Or a plane from London
Or a spaceship from Mars

Truly, from where have you come down to Earth?

How did you so get  used
to the Earth, truly, the way you 
participate in the world,
A little love, a few lies
A little devilment, plunder,
Needless hate, jealousy, et cetera
Making a mockery of humanity
Is that how you came to Earth?
Always a little lacking of yourself
Truly, how could we love you so?

Truly, how does one leave the Earth now?
Following the footsteps of love
Or after a break it up?
Does a single death follow 
A single life, truly, where are we headed?
Devoid of love, can one love it all?

When was the last time I lived upon this Earth?
Blood-soaked, thus far reached the heart
Of a child, ever since Kadesh
Truly, when was the last time
I was frightened thus of the Earth?

Where is the Earth headed, where am I headed?
Truly, where do I go every night?
To join a prostitute at a nightclub?
And where do I go each morning?
To work for the profit margin of a killer?
Where does the Earth go each day by our side?
As I leave off myself
And you yourself, beyond 
Perhaps for freedom,
and an infinite sky,
Truly, where are we headed all?

From a Surrealist’s Diary

From time to time I tumble down little abysses 
Come to rescue me!
No colour I look for on your skin
Because you’re not a race
Not a language, nor a nation!

I tumble down little abysses from time to time, come!
My heart hangs upon the room of emptiness
The volume inside me has no windows
Neither walls, nor a door!

Now I’m as free as Gandhi
I make my way from one country to another
In Italy I visit Mussolini
In the cold heart of a dictator, frozen time
Even today still alive,
My heart is naked,
For peace World is afar
For peace World is still too far,

In Germany I flee from the Nazis
Einstein is in the United States
I reformulate the theory of relativity 
The world can change
The speed of light can change
If I tumble down an abyss to grasp you
So I gain a little more time

I am having tea with Salvador Dali
in Spain
I have plenty of ideas to change the whole art history
I ruin and reconstruct all art forms
Same as you, they call me crazy,
Your walls, I call them,
If they’re lowering as high as your loftiness
Then of course, I’m a new surrealist
Sworn to demolish your barriers
That bursting river on its banks!

With Martin Luther King I’m in the U.S
We shall overcome!
I too have a dream
As remote as peace 
I listen to the poetry of the streets
Gill Scott Heron, Nina Simone…
I’m proud of being black:
Hi James Brown!
We shall overcome! 

Inside the room of emptiness Love has no volume
As if all will grow in number where I  touch on your heart
Yet slowly I’m dying, behold a heart!
But still, the world is beautiful, Love is beautiful 
Please do come, sometimes, down to little abysses, I tumble

Now I’m as naked as Gandhi, come, I’m not frozen
I can’t keep up with knowledge cause it is infinite, vast
Humanity is a lie tumbled down in abyss
Humanity as it is far removed from the earth
So do come, lie down on next to me
Because I’m dying slowly,
Perhaps you and I will discover another world
We may call it a new philosophy,
Tomorrow we may go to a new planet, come!
If we reach so, leave me there
I’m a human, look! I tumble down little abysses from time to time

The world never had a doorway
So where through could I enter into it?
The layers of universe as long as I can rise 
Everything is as beautiful as it is in high and consciousness,
Come! From time to time I tumble down little abysses 

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