i am ismet ozel, a poet in his fortieth year.
everything happened in my lifetime, i want this
to be known by all. i was there when the deluge came
i was present at the re-creation of the world.
i am at peace now, i have seen everything.
i saw the parting of heavens, the coming to life of clay.
all the evidence is at hand now. i can be lynched.
i earned the hatred of prostitutes
and the curses of virgins.
i have words which can’t even help you cross a bridge,
i have words which will not save you from burning fires.
i have lost the sword of my strength, i no longer
respect harvests. i flew but my flight
was detected by radar. i swore heavily:
this too was entered in my police file.
let everyone know, i am quite a holigan.
gendarmes and taxmen are after my soul.
in the eyes of the clockwork toilers,
nothing could be blacker than my soul;
if you ask the denizens of laboratories
my soul is a fake.
all the youngsters who sailed through school
with flying colours and an ey efor what is true
will tell you that my soul is a slovakian snail
whose home was left in nepal.
i wonder who knows the truth.
even i, busy as i am hiding my soul
in every crack and cranny
what do i know? whata do i possess
that could possibly tempt the devil down my throat?
dishevelled by anxiety, i selected a state secret
for myself. with a state secret in hand
one could lead a cinematic life,
one could enjoy refined living,
those secret trips to the fleshpots
of whore-houses, not to mention
high-class restaurants or simple bucolic walks.
who knows, it might all end
on the platform of an aesthetic execution.
yes, yes, but a soul is not enough
to rake in all these goodies.
if this verdict,
this inference is right,
why is it that a conference postponed
or a late coach
why are the trains of national leaders always white,
why are the russians marching on berlin?
how absurd, how stupid!
of the four bibles why do i choose to follow
the gospel according to john?
but here i am,
one out many, like everyone else
standing at this station
next to this spy in his black coat
waiting with my most legible face.
i stay in the game, i play it
for fear that i might miss my turn,
that my ticket might expire.
there are heaps of azaleas
and passion flowers lying before me
like corpes with rigid valves,
there are thousands of flowers before me.
i am afraid it might be my cue to step in:
what if they tell met o begin in order to make an end?
oh no, not me,
the world mustn’t do this to me.
tell me, when all is said and done
how many of us went as close as seeing?
their own skeleton in the mirrors?
come now, humanity,
let’s strike a bargain:
give me all the derelict thoughts
you left behind,
all the days you deserted, your past mistakes
all the moments of despair triggered
by your shortcomings, give them all to me,
give me your sorrows, the jokes you no longer
find funny, all the things you think
you have quelled, give them, give them to me,
the worries you tried to make light of, all the fallen,
broken dreams and the wild, failed ventures,
give them all to me,
give me also your crimes
documented with their entire premeditations.
i know, it wouldn’t be
the done thing if ý were
to hand out cheque exchange,
money is too coarse a unit
to measure the intricacies
of all these sustained plunders.
look, apart from my usual tricks
i can find other interesting ways of repayment.
when it comes to repayment i am a peerless expert.
for instance, what would you say
to a lecture at one of your club’s meetings?
a lecture: on the shining ideals of humanity.
or else i could arrange a raffle on your behalf.
with vertigos, nostalgias
and festering loves to be shared
by prize winners.
let a just bargain be struck
at long last!
again all your past offences
i have lined up all the crimes
i intend to commit.
no matter what i do
i’ll have to bear the brunt
of every impregnating, pestilent wind.
if still waters cry deep
let them run into me.
the forging strength of fire
and the wisdom of earth
shall not fail to restore
my sword to me.