Poems in English by Yusuf Eradam


Objects in Mirror


He came from Anatolia thousands of years ago
and embraced a standard American cat in fear
as they dance in the window of the Cage here
with objects in mirror closer than they appear

He was in, and could not find the way out of the maze
still Saginaw Blues remains in the maple’s ablaze
and they dance in the window of the Cage
‘cause objects in mirror are closer than they appear

He was the guest in a little red house on the prairie
by a road that opens to a rickety rush but he could hear
them dancing in the window of the Cage
knowing objects in mirror are closer than they appear

To tell his story of a rude awakening
he shuttled across human borders in pain
as he learned to dance in the window of the Cage
“perhaps,” he said “objects in mirror are closer than they appear”

He buckled up with the rest of the world
in his word on the brittle wins of the oven bird
they danced and danced in the window of the Cage
as objects in mirror are closer than they appear


he listened to the whirly gig of his clink
and before he forgot to put the red flag up
he put a poem in the mail box of his pleasure dome
danced with his wild cat in the window of his Cage
and thrust his body into the solitude of

the dark bleeding night
the only realm he bloomed at

his spinning top and petosky stones in his hands
sweet grass and mandala his regalia
he opened his homeless eagle eyes of cryptic cacti
raining on the tombs of his kind
flooding his own dreams of ore


now an object in mirror closer
than it appears he sings his quiet song
from the top of a juniper tree

and looks at the onlookers
and to the serene melodies of the running river
people dance in the window of the Cage

‘cause objects in mirror
are closer than they appear

Nov 11-14, 1999
Saginaw, Michigan

Stone for a Sling

…I played

games with child friends whose names i forgot

i was the best at grabbing the five stones off the ground

thanks to those five stones in one hand

i could never ever hold a sling to kill birds…

then i saw life-size cartoons of wars, of massacres, of genocide…

of fingerprints crying out for their owners…

of human beings indifferent to human affliction…

now in my room with birds from all over the world

i play hide-and-seek in poems

hoping to shed light onto lullabies…

hoping not to be

the stone for a sling.

(Published in: The Space Between Our Footsteps: poems and paintings from the Middle East. Selected by Naomi Shihab Nye. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998: 88)
(Also published in: The Flag of Childhood: poems from the middle east. Selected by Naomi Shihab Nye. New York: Aladdin Books, 2002.)

A Brief Note to the Bag Lady, Ma Sister

Ma sister, ma sister

Maybe lady maybe not

I’m sorry, I’m sorry for you

But I know it’s not enough

‘Cause I know not enough

Ma sister, no not enough

I’m sitting in a coffee house

Watching TV, waiting

All I know ma sister

You know nothin’ ‘bout me

You dunno nothin’ ‘bout the cold here

Here’s no 5th Avenue

Here’s no Central Park

Here’s no Statue of Liberty

The cold here ma sister

Don’t take place on your TV channels

God knows how many

Here is South-East Asia Minor

Now is winter

The avalanches at –42 C

Are not as minor

First came when I was out to find the doctor

On my way back I couldn’t find

I couldn’t find ma house under the snows

TV news says a second swallowed the whole village

No house is as tall as the twin towers

Here nothing’s new, no york is new york here

I worked and worked all ma life ma sister

Now I have no belongings but here

Here ma sister you can find bags everywhere

Plastic bags, nylon bags, bags made of kilims

I don’t know what to put in them

Maybe my freezing heart, maybe not

I’m watching you here ma sister

Here’s no Brooklyn Bridge

Here’s no bridge ma sister

Soon will be spring

The Flood will sweep the left-overs

Then I will never find ma children

Noah won’t visit us I know

He wouldn’t let me in, ma sister

He’d be disappointed here

‘Cause here’s so many lonely souls

So many women, husbands’n children gone

Ma sister, thank God you have some belongings

Belongings to carry in your bag, you have them

You have them and that makes you a lady

And to the streets yes to the streets maybe

You belong, but maybe not

Ma sister, ma sister

I’m no lady whether I have a bag or not

Here’s no lady, no lady am I

I’m in a coffee house waiting

They haven’t found ma home yet

I’m sitting in a coffee house watching

I’m watching you and your old bag in new york

They tell me they will give me

Lots of money, God knows how money

How money would touch ma identity

They say I will have a new house

I dunno where, they don’t see I lost ma home

They say I will have a TV-set

So many channels, so many other worlds

I’m watching yours now, by a stove

I can touch the stove, I put ma hands on it

Cold metal burns ma hands

I can’t move nowhere, I can’t talk to no one

They’ll find ma house soon

And get ma dark-skinned, emerald-eyed

Emerald-eyed and rosy-cheeked buds out of the snow

Ma sister, the snow is everywhere

Ma sister, how will they do it?

Ma sister, I could do it better

With my nails ma sister

I could do it better

But they wouldn’t let me, no they wouldn’t let me

Ma sister, I see your life is tough too

In the middle of so much plenty

You are hungry

I don’t remember eating for days

I dunno, I really dunno I’m watching you here in the avalanche area

Here’s South-East Asia minor, Anatolia, winter

It’s eight to the the twenty-first century

I’m watching you on TV ma sister

You’re cold in the streets I see

Your heart may be freezing too, maybe not, dunno

I see, I see ma sister, you have no home

I see, you’re cold and hungry

But still I can’t be sorry enough

I’m sorry ma sister, but I can’t

I can’t be sorry enough.


(Published in: This Same Sky: a Collection of Poems from around the world. Ed. Naomi Shihab Nye. New York: Four Winds Press, 1992: 133-35)

Hartford Blues

too large a hotel room

a huge capitol on a hill

very near station

living some new history

waiting for Hal expecting

to speak what’s left unspoken

in Izmir, the warm Aegean town

in the cosy silence of the room

charlie parker and Hal

chatting to a D minor

a birds strut the window

in connecticut campus

a squirrel’s surprise

debut before

a walnut tree

too quick emotions

too late auditions of love

too soon is the depart

a hug a smile a warm stare

hartford blues in full flare

May 9, 1992
Ankara, Turkey
(Published in Cardinal Sins 1999, Saginaw, Michigan. p.8)

The Room Without A View

Yusuf Eradam (as a tribute to the memory of Felicia Campbell)

It took so long to build it
They had so much time to put
so much expectations
as mortar
between the bricks

In the room without a view
he mistook the blue wall for the sky
and the pink wall for a caring heart
“Let’s call it square” she thought
as she had mistaken the caring hand
and the friendly smile for love
in the noisy nights of Istanbul streets…

He was here, at last, in the desert,
And she, the hungry wolf, was ready for a bite

She, kept him in this room without a view
and the key to herself
there was no air inside
for him to inhale
and no one else
he could play with

That’s why he gave a warm hug
to the child in him
the child who dreamed
of the Indian chief resting
on top of the Wilson Cliffs
or Noah squeezed in the crags
of Mt Ararat

She had been to K2
He always wondered why she ever came down
Now she was the heat in August
She was her own desert
She was so impatient and intolerant
All he could do was to sign his name
on the glass door
with wax
his final cry
Seeing a sledge-hammer in her eyes
He turned into a dust-devil
devious and two-faced
and kept fidgeting in his room without a view
Awesome was the change in him
Because he had stopped looking at her
He was looking through her at the Cliffs,
which drove her crazy
as his eyes were her new mirror:

“Don’t you love me any more?” she whined,
which he did not hear,
as his mind was at rest on the cliffs
his hands ready to embrace rain

“Don’t you love me any more?” she asked again,
he was making her life misearable
making her feel old and ugly

So down went her hammer
on her own illusions
What’s left behind from this one-faced love affair
is the wax-stain on her carpet
and thousands of glass pieces
buried in their bodies.

That’s how the night was scarred
and how love was lulled.

Bleeding all over, he swiftly escaped
through the door
towards the Cliffs
to piecing together Freedom and Peace

the heat
as a gift

she would never
be able to

5 August–15 August 1994 / Las Vegas–Wolf Point, Montana (Amtrak 12/831)

Man in Manhattan

Yusuf Eradam

just listening to
manhattan transfer
in the offbeat of avenues
he let himself out
oh he let himself
to transfer his image into
another language beyond the night
acquainted with the night he was
a dew before the frost
the man in manhattan
long before it was
he had just lost the rhythm
oh the rhythm was
and so he was
the man in manhattan
tired of listening to the
“big blues in the city”
oh he was tired of hiding
in other rhythms
rhythms of the outside and nobody
nobody would rhyme with him
so into some
corner beyond the night
he let himself out
just like that
and he was
listening to manhattan

just jazz…

May 9–24, 1992

Washıng Washıngton

Yusuf Eradam

early september he went out to walk the capital
in that vast dawn over his image on the ground
one step ahead it was running its idea to
some unknown destination holding onto its own sky
to feel safe on the way to finding another way

adios washington adios the sad tunes
adios flores para los muertos goodbye miss dubois
i will never forget the helpless look in your face
yet i must go ’cause too heavy a burden
they have become your desparately wild eyes

these were the last tears to gush into the streets
off his quietitude and despair subsidized by some
far away soul whose tears were dripping out
of the small white envelope that was very personal
early september he went out to walk the capital

May 9, 1992

Brainstorming Collage

Yusuf Eradam

I am alone in Las Vegas in Nazim’s “Hello”
To dare to venture myself
I need a simmer and time
a pen and coffee, or wine

“Those were the days, we mustn’t forget
Keep the hearts warm in memories…” say
two separate bunny-teeth
and the lower lip cut in two

I am the shielded rebel angel in a Breugel hell.
I am Margot, I wish I had met René Magritte’s hat
Why should my mountains bloom only when I cry?
They could tell me perhaps, the people of Salvation Town.

I am passion at dusk, regret at dawn
I am Icarus
The jailor of Musée des Beaux Arts
N’Auden will see me into a poem.

November 1996 – 19.9.2020

Conference on Women

Yusuf Eradam

Confer me an essence

Apart from my headache

Please —

And give me the rose and the
the wine

Stop the ache
the heart-ache

Release —

April 15, 1992 – 19.9.2020
Izmir, Ankara, Turkey

His Bundle

Yusuf Eradam

Never knew where
Where she dropped it

Never in her life did she
Ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever,
Try to find who had put it there

Anything would do to relieve
Her battered heart
A tiny battery or just a “HOORAY!”

Whose bundle was it anyway?

April 15, 1992