ÖZDEMIR ASAF translated by ALAN KULATTI

Özlem

Bir gece,
Gecede bir uyku..
Uykunun içinde ben..
Uyuyorum,
Uykudayım,
Yanımda sen.

Uykunun içinde bir rüya,
Rüyamda bir gece,
Gecede ben..
Bir yere gidiyorum,
Delice..
Aklımda sen.

Ben seni seviyorum,
Gizlice..
El-pençe duruyorum,
Yüzüne bakıyorum,
Söylemeden,
Tek hece.

Seni yitiriyorum
Çok karanlık bir anda..
Birden uyanıyorum,
Bakıyorum aydınlık;
Uyuyorsun yanımda..
Güzelce.

Yearning

A night,
At night, a sleep..
Inside the sleep, me..
I’m sleeping,
I’m asleep,
By my side, you.

Inside the sleep, a dream
In my dream, a night,
In the night, me..
I’m going somewhere,
Maniacally..
On my mind, you.

I’m loving you,
Secretly..
I’m bowing and scraping,
I’m looking at your face,
Without speaking,
Silently.

I’m losing you
In a truly dark moment..
I’m suddenly waking,
Seeing that it’s daytime;
You’re sleeping by my side..
Beautifully.

Şaka Deǧil

Yer altından dinleniyoruz;
Tedirginliǧimiz ondan.
Seslerimizi dinleyorlar,
Ölülerin katında biriktiriyorlar;
Suskunluǧumuz ondan.

Bugün son sevişmelerimizi gözetleyorlar,
Her neyse..
Yarın düzenleyecekler aşklarımızı,
Ner’deyse.
Huysuzluǧumuz ondan.
Perdeleri kapatmalı mı?
Perdeyse.
Yaşamlarımızın, doǧumlarımızın
Tadı kaçmadan..
Gökteyse, yerdeyse,
Bir şeyse.

Çarpık çizdiriyorlar,
Karanlık yazdırıyorlar,
Canından bezdiriyorlar..
Kırgınlıǧımız ondan.
Acı-acı güldürüyorlar..
Hırçınlıǧımız ondan.
Aǧlamaca karamsarlık tütüyor
Buram-buram
Konularımızdan..
Burukluǧumuz ondan.

Bugünden tezi yok diyorum,
Korkmadan, utanmadan
Soyunup pazar enayiliklerini,
Giyinip sevi giysilerini
Bir bayram denemesi yapmalıyız..
Sayılı günler başlamadan.

It’s No Joke

The underground listens in on us;
That’s what made us apprehensive.
They’re listening to our voices,
Amassing them in catacombs;
That’s what made us taciturn.

Today they’re surveilling our last embraces,
Naturally..
Tomorrow they’ll rearrange our lovers,
Practically.
That’s what made us sullen.
Must they close the curtains?
Certainly.
Before our existences, our births
Lose their taste..
From the ground up to the sky,
Everything.

They make us draw distorted lines,
They make us write darkness,
They make us sick and tired of life..
That’s what made us resentful.
They make us laugh in agony..
That’s what made us humorless.
Despair fills our tearless eyes
To the brim
Because of our themes..
That’s what made us astringent.

From this day forward, I’m saying we act,
Without fear, without shame
Undress from their foolish duds,
Dress into their festive garb,
We need to hold a demonstration..
Before the numbered days begin.


Özdemir Asaf was a Turkish poet and translator. One of the preeminent Turkish poets of the modern era, Asaf gained great acclaim and popularity for the universal themes he fit into compact forms. He expressed his philosophy in as few words as possible; he was fascinated in what happens beyond a poem. His process was to reach a state of limpidity by way of tongue, and to transfer that particular energy to the reader as effectively as possible. Asaf’s predilection for symphonizing, paying with, and reducing language resulted in a body of work that advanced the Turkish language and culture.

Alan Kulatti is a writer and resident artist at the Louis Armstrong House Museum. His poetry, prose, and translations explore musicality in the mundane. Originally from Turkey, he now lives and writes in Queens. 

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Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.