takas sözler

takas sözler                          


dedim ki nehrin düz ve pürüzsüz akışında             

         sektirmeden saydam sesimi


dilim, boyacı kuşum !                  

duyguların biçimi yok                  

renklendir düşlerimi                  


girintili, incecik elleriyle kilden testiler              

         yapıyordu kıyıda adamın biri...


her şey akıyorsa eğer                  

nerede tutulur sözler...                   


şairsen kekeme bir terzisin                  

duygularla işin ne                  

nesnelere elbiseler biçmek için                  

yeniden gir nehire                  


keşke duyguların akışına bıraksaydım kendimi                   

bu kadar kirlenmezdim belki


nesneler sözlerle                  

duygular nesnelerle                  

sevişirken birlikte                  

'özel formüller sayesinde genç ve güzel kalabilirdim' ben de !


verdim tükendi şiir                  

aldım açıldı makas                  


ah, ne berbat bir takas !


İlyas Tunç

swap words

swap words                   



I called out by my clear voice

         on the even and smooth flow of the river:


my tongue! the painter bird!                  

no formats of the feelings                  

make my dreams colorful                   


over there a man                   

with thin and talented fingers                    

making amphoras                  


where can we keep the words                  

if everything flows?                  


if you’re a poet, you’re a tailor                  

no matter if with your feelings                  

you jump into the river once more                  

or cloth out in pattern


only if I had left myself into the flood of the feelings,

         would I not have been so dirty


while the things making                   

love with the words                   

the feelings with the things                  

‘I could’ve looked more beautiful and younger                    

         with magic formula of skin cream’, and me, too!


I run out of poems if I give up feelings                  

the scissors opens wide if I handle them.


what a terrible swap !


İlyas Tunç                   

Translated from Turkish by Leonard Durso



         Dokunmak ürperti yaratmıyorsa duyargalar körelmiş demektir. O zaman algının seçiciliği ortadan kalkar, yerini anlamsızlık alır. Hayatımıza zevk veren şey, yalnızca anlamdır: Neyin ne olduğunu bilmek! Sanıldığı gibi duyargalar zevk değil, bilgi verir.

         Karıncalar yaprak bitleriyle toz zerreciklerini birbirinden ayırsa da bunları bilgiye dönüştüremezler; öyleyse, zevk de almazlar.

         Ben, karınca değilim!

         Kasların miskinliğinden kurtulmalıyım; bahçeye iniyorum. Eğreltiler, aslanağızları, güzelavratotları…  Bana dokun, bana dokun, diyor bir ses. Gidip dokunuyorum: O, sensin !

         Dokunmak, uzaklığı ortadan kaldırır. Uzaklık kalkınca seyretmek sona erer, gövdelerin şarkısı başlar. Baştan çıkarıcım benim! Ritmine bayılıyorum; körfezlerine… Adını sakladım; söylersem tabular yıkılacak. Sözcüklerin paylaştırma gücü var; bahçemize girmesinler. Bütün büyü parmaklarımızın ucunda. Beni parmak uçlarınla sev; şarkımız gürültüye dönüşebilir.

         Ne derin kitapsın ki anladıkça batıyorum. Gidersem gücenme, eksiklik bende. Sen birini bul; ya da dokun kendine. En korkunç hastalık cüzamdır.

         Yarayı aşk iyileştirir.

İlyas TUNÇ





If touching doesn’t cause sensation, it means that antenna have been insensible. Then, diognosis of perception disappears and meaninglessness takes its place. Meaning is the only thing which gives joy to life: Knowing what is what! As thought, antennas don’t give joy, but knowledge.

            Although ants distiguish leaf louses and dust motes, they can’t transform it into knowledge. If so, they don’t feel joy, either.

            I am not an ant!

            I must shake off the laziness of muscles, and now I am walking through the plants in the garden: Ferns, snapdragons, belladones… Touch me, touch me, says a voice. I’m going and touching: It is you that I touched!

            Touching removes distance. At the moment when distance is removed, contemplating comes to the end, and bodies touch each other in fire of love. You! My  excitant woman! The rhythm of your kisses allures me and your buttocks… I keep your name as a secret. If I cry it out, taboos can be broken down. Words have a power of sharing. I want nobody to enter in our garden to join the songs of our bodies. The whole magic is on the edges of our fingers. Caress me with you fingers. Otherwise, our love songs will turn into a noise.

            You are like a deeply detailed book that I get drowned in its pages. If I leave you, don’t feel upset. I am the cause of impotence. Find a new partner, or caress yourself. The most dreadful disease is leprosy.

            It is love what heals wounds.

İlyas TUNÇ

Translated Turkish by Leonard Durso


Poetic Knowledge


                 I know ferns are green, the orange is fuschia, and the blood is red…

This is so because I saw; once we see a thing we will not forget it. Humans differ from other living things since they can acquire knowledge beyond senses. The past and the future are nothing but a design. The blood of the birds is also red yet they cannot draw an orange. Our intellect giving meaning to sensual stimuli seems to be the most dexterous painter. There are colors of other objects even of concepts. The colors of patience, pain, fury and joy could only be recognized by poets. Metin Altıok was saying:

                  “I dyed meticulously the thread of love

                 The wounded color of going but not finding it there”

                 Even though you scan the Rainbow, you cannot see the color of going but not finding it there; it is not a real thing. Being unreal does not mean it does not exist. Numbers, geometrical shapes, prepositions do not appear; nevertheless we can acquire their knowledge. Our mind dismantles everything it grasps and condemns them to abstraction.  Chlorophyll gives the green color feature to the leaves. The Interior Angles of a Triangle add up to 180°. Water is composed of molecules of hydrogen and oxygen…

                 Knowing about these does not give us pleasure. Our knowledge creates a sentimental transformation only as long as it is digested through imagery.  Someone might say that you would win if you know that chlorophyll gives leaves the green color. In this case I would tell them that the cause of my joy would not be the knowledge but the monetary award of the competition.  Aesthetical enjoyment is something indirect. The fact that every poetry reading would give away its diversified pleasure means a testimony to the constant transformation of its organic texture. We would get from it a sense of value, not a profit. The humans who possess the sense of value would forsake immediate gains for the sake of beauties.

                 The beauty of poetry is hidden in the color of the imagery texture.

                 Imageries are subjective, and they forge as a result of the poet’s active attitude while perceiving the objects. To the objects poets attribute characteristics that are not in their own substance. All metaphors, illusions, similes are created consciously. This does not mean that poetry misinforms us. Everything within the realm of design can be transformed into an object of knowledge. Poetical knowledge belongs only to its own subject, and it cannot be transferred, verified.  Incorrectness stems from mixing the objective reality with poetical reality. Poetry ought to show as if the impossible actions are plausible. The poet could have said as follows:

                 ‘I meticulously dyed the thread of love red.’

                 Magic spell is gone; this so because we made the line rational. Rationality is a method employed by humans to feel secure as opposed to incongruous thoughts, odd scenes, unconventional shapes, colors, odors, taste. This way we would have a close call with freaking out.

                 Poetry means wildness!                           

                 The language of wildness is something illogical; in its poetry. The mind separates and analyses; but it does not penetrate. To penetrate, intuition is needed. Intuition is a knowledge competence like the mind and instinct. It comes before mind; yet it is not an independent capacity from the mind. Instinct is an organic feature; it gets rid of the distance, it sends the mind away. But the one that creates imageries is nothing but the mind by which subject and object diverge from each other. If there is no distance neither the designing. The explored locations should have lost their magic spell; just as the moon. Creating an imagery means switching from mechanical running of our intellect to thought deviations and jumps. Writing is a different action than comprehending. To grasp the thing through intuition which was brought out by the mind seems to be a paradox peculiar to poetry. The language falls short in explaining what is comprehended.

                 Poetical knowledge would not serve the will of the reader. One enters the water naked. The reader can penetrate into the poem better provided that he or she would eliminate prejudices. The poem ends and the emotion stays on. Recollection, the effect of the poetry is as deep as the emotion’s trail. This emotional trail constitutes the poetical knowledge. Instead of what did you learn question, the reader should be asked the following questions:

–   What did you feel?

–   I trembled like ferns…  

                 This is the situation Louis Aragon depicted:  “In poetry of which substance is a hurricane, every single imagery should spawn a cyclone. Cyclones cannot be identified; they are experienced. There: fear, apprehension, joy, death, loneliness reign; everybody is privately with their adventures. Auditory power of the words is more effective than their meanings. Every word heard does retrieve psychological events staying in our conscious. That is why “The wounded color of going but not finding it there” would not be only a line but the whole life of the reader.

                 Poetry gives us knowledge of life…

İlyas Tunç

Translated from Turkish by Mesut Şenol

Akatalpa Monthly Literature Magazine, December 2003, Issue: 48


ORDU: Golibices (Cormorants), Violets, Bay-Windowed Houses…

At that time, the wooden house where I was born had a view of the sea, and this house remaining from the Turkish Greeks was in cobble stoned Sıtkı Can Street… By the sea there were not many multi-story concrete buildings. All day long we used to play ball in the sand stretching from Taşbaşı Church to the exquisite kiosk right in front of the old Governor mansion. I was one of the kids who broke the windows by their long kicks of the houses which appear in the foreground of the pictures of Ordu with Boztepe view taken in 1960’s. Even one of those who pilfered plums from the gardens of those houses… Today those houses do not exist, neither does that fine kiosk! Though the old governor mansion is still standing, the aroma does not come anymore from the magnolia tree of its garden. The green jeeps that used to climb up to Boztepe from Sıtkı Can Street have become already scrap. Incidentally, I have to mention here that the man who gave his name to our street, an educator, researcher and writer, Sıtkı Can (1904-1958) did publish Yeşilordu Magazine as a publication of Ordu Halkevi (People’s House).

The memory of the cities can only be maintained by their architectural texture. In the 1960’s the architectural characteristics of Ordu used to be made of wooden houses. Most of those houses used to remain from the years of the population exchange. Zaferi Milli Mahallesi (Neighborhood) used to be called Ermeni Mahallesi (Armenian Neighborhood). With the very few Armenian friends of ours we used to play matches in the backyards of İsmet Paşa and Cumhuriyet primary schools, and perhaps due to the softness of the wood, there were no quarrels among us. Moreover, Greeks who migrated during the population exchange years used to come from Greece to their land of birth, and the Ordu folks used to visit their friends in Greece too.

One of my childhood streets was Menekşe Sokak (Violet Street). The Taşbaşı Church used to be a half-open prison. While walking towards Tabyabaşı, I watched from above the prisoners playing volleyball in the backyard of the Church used to give us a different sensation mixed with dolefulness. Tabyabaşı was a promenade known by the local folks as ‘lovers’ road’ right before the seashore road was opened. This is just Tabyabaşı as in the line of the folk song ‘Three girls at Tabyabaşı are side by side / One of them made eyes at me…’ Then the rock group founded by the youth of the Tabyabaşı used to enchant the guests of the wedding ceremonies at Gülistan Hotel and the People’s Education Center. To listen to the 45 records at the teahouses by the sea used to be a different passion. It was not only us to lend an ear to those songs but also golibices (cormorants) unpredictable ones where they would come up in the water were included in the audience. İddia (Betting), Loto and other digital lottery games did not exist then. Nevertheless to place a bet on where golibices (cormorants) would surface didn’t harm anybody.

Ordu Municipal Black Sea Theatre, which opened its curtains in 1965 with a play called Hülleci (A Man Taking in Part of a Deceitful Marriage) used to be the main artery of the cultural life of the city as it’s today. With its full house full movies, Millet (People) Cinema, Yıldız Bahçe (Star Garden) and İnci Bahçe (Pearl Garden) were two other summer cinemas. Criers carrying wooden panels with posters attached on them used to pass the streets by shouting out ‘Colored-Turkish Cinemascope two Movies at once.’  Who else used to go by: knife-grinders, junk-dealers, watchmen, dyers, paper kids, gypsy women… Yes, gypsy women creaking like bellows lacking oil: Tinsmith is heeereee! There was an older man selling candied rusters. He used to walk with a glass covered box on his arm where he fitted his rooster shaped candies. Football was as always one of indispensable indulgence. We used to anxiously wait for the weekly Fotospor magazine. The sportsmanship consciousness of Orduspor fans alongside with its female supporters had been forged even at that time.

When you take a look from Boztepe in the years of the 1960’s, one could not see anything but Taşbaşı, Zaferi Milli, Düz Mahalle, Saray, Azizye and Selimiye neighborhoods. The Ordu High School from which I graduated was very far away from the beach and soybean factory. In front of the mayor’s Office, there were two wooden piers approx. 300 meters apart from each other. Fishing boats used to dock at these piers. To salt anchovies in olive oil cans used to be indispensable part of our culinary culture. In those years passenger ships such as Aksu, Tarı or Cumhuriyet (Republic) used to get to Ordu. Ships used to wait offshore, and the passengers used to be transported from these piers by boats. I never forget the day when we waited for my aunt coming from Istanbul with great distress since the boats were not able to sail in a very stormy sea. Had she been alive today, this woman of Republic could have set a very good example for today’s young girls in terms of her dressing, ideas and mannerism.

Squares, parks, green areas make up a city’s lungs for life. Unfortunately Ordu is a city without a square. The area before the Provincial Palace used to be called as People’s Plain just like a square. People’s Plain according to the sources was a square constructed by Ataturk’s order in 1924 after its sand and wet clay was cleared by a tram line. This square used to be integrated with the historical, stone buildings in Saray (Palace) neighborhood. Some of stone buildings are still standing. Yet the ones not used as official buildings should be given some functionality. People’s Plain in time turned into a vegetable market. Loin clothed village women used to carry their produce, fruits and vegetables in their baskets called ‘Şelek’ made out of hazelnut branches to sell here. Yogurt was put not in plastic boxes but in copper buckets. It was possible to find ‘high plateau beet’ in the market. In summers it was high time to get to the high plateau called Çambaşı where ‘our firewood would not burn.’ This high plateau once decorated with shingle roofed houses has become a victim to concrete as the other Black Sea high plateaus experience.

Promenade by the sea used to be used during hazelnut season as a harvest place. The hazelnuts collected from the orchards close to the city center used to be spread out here for drying. Its shell used to be burnt in stoves, its embers taken from stoves used to be put on braziers. In every household there were one or several copper braziers. On a tripod mount placed in the brazier coffee and even dishes were cooked. The most popular place of the houses was the kitchen. The coverings laid on the couches by the windows used to reflect the elaborateness of the life style of that time. In that life style there was no room for turbans or veils. In fact, women at that time used to do whatever is required from them in terms of their belief. Perhaps the capital was not as globalized as today! Hazelnut tradesmen of the national capital did not employ religion as exploitation means.

The architectural texture of Ordu has started deteriorating in the 1970’s. Bay-windowed, wooden houses at the foot of Boztepe were not able anymore to see the sea because of the multi-story buildings erected by the shoreline. From then on I did not have the chance to watch the sunrise out of our house with its hinged windows and brass-knocker. The resentment experienced by me and other kids of whose homes stayed behind those stone masses lies in the political powers of those years. Back  during those years there was no such concept like urban transformation. If it were, these ugly formations would have been for sure regarded as a requirement of the urban transformation! To get rid of a place of  historical value or a street is equal to deleting the memory of the cities. In the residents of a city with its memory wiped out, the sense of living in a city would not develop. I say sense of living in a city; not solidarity among the fellow country-people. For some reason caring about your countryman reminds one of self-interested relationships.

Nevertheless with the restoration works done in recent years, books and projects written and cultural activities, the efforts made to regain this beautiful city’s memory should be acknowledged to recognize the Ordu folks who nicely absorbed the sense of living in a city.   

Dostoyevsky once said ‘Being a native of a city means you have a place to go.” Thanks to God I have had places to go throughout my life: Ankara, Ağlasun, Gölhisar, Çarşamba, Gümüşhane and Sinop… The days are becoming heavier; I wonder if only I could lift up my wings like a golibice (cormorant), like a hawk and fly from one sea to the other, from Sinop to Ordu?

            What if the stone stairs of that lonely house I haven’t seen for long would have mossed!

İlyas Tunç

Translated from Turkish by Mesut Şenol

The Cities Deserving Their Past To Be Wiped Out,

Cumhuriyet Books Prepared by Işık Kansu




it was rainy
lamps vomiting their lights
over the roads we passed frantically
and life
sliding so delicately
under our steps

dearest, forgive me
had i thought that your arms you locked around my waist
to be a seatbelt,
had i passed the red light,
had i passed on the left side!

before our bodies go scrap
we asked God for some time
to step a bit more on the gas
to exceed the speed limit
of this love

it was rainy
lamps vomiting their lights
over the roads we passed frantically
yet, wipers were not working …

dearest! the same serum sufficing for us
let us have the same blood in our veins
let us take a look at the same side mirror
to see what we left behind
speed shrinks the place
in any case…

dearest! we are each other’s murderer
our identity shall be figured out
by the lip prints stuck on the windshield

still this regret will not do for us
because it keeps raining
and life
sliding so delicately
under the steps

İlyas Tunç
November 2010, İnceburun

Çeviren: Mesut Şenol
Papirüs Poetry Collection
May-June 2011, Issue: 4


zulu love letter

zulu love letter

out of a baobab tree
into the calabash bowl
two lightning bugs fell …

mbali, loves sprout in darkness
begging for moisture and warmth
let us have our lights turned off,
let us cry in unison
let us smooch

parting; that of killer frog
looks waiting, lurking!

maybe a preoccupied hand in the morning
by dipping the calabash in the water
shall drown us by mistake
two small lighting bugs

if only i would have loved you like a hippopotamus

you mbali your lips how thick,
as you kiss as deep as black
i turn pale out of fear

one day
should an elephant run over an African violet
or should an African violet
put a love letter written with beads
on the neck of a white elephant
that is to say, if the killer frog gets out of its ambush
then just weave this love letter in two colors

i miss you so much
i became pitch black like the beams of my hut

i would have flown to your land had i been a dove
and i would have been fed by the crumbs you would have left right at your door

ngiyakuthanda, mbali

İlyas Tunç
November 2010, Sinop

Translated from Turkish by Mesut Şenol

next page next page

takas sözler

takas sözler                         ...

swap words

swap words                       I called out by my clear...


Cüzam          Dokunmak ürperti yaratmıyorsa duyargalar körelmiş demektir. O...


LEPROSY If touching doesn’t cause sensation, it means that antenna have been...

Poetic Knowledge

                   I know ferns are green, the orange is fuschia, and...

ORDU: Golibices (Cormorants), Violets, Bay-Windowed Houses…

At that time, the wooden house where I was born had a view of the sea, and this house...


accident it was rainy lamps vomiting their lights over the roads we passed...

zulu love letter

zulu love letter out of a baobab tree into the calabash bowl two lightning bugs fell...