an ode to a city in two and a half parts

By Alaz Ada Yener

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1.
a city is a city,
a city is not a home,
unless you walk far enough,
and then it’s gone.
the rain pounds on the roof. you look out the window and can only see flickering lights and their reflections. you cannot tell which continent you’re looking at. cheap umbrellas lie dead in the street somewhere.
a city is a city,
a city is not love.
a city is not you,
a city is not true.
you are on the bridge. it does not matter which bridge or which direction. you do not know how long have you been here. the sun set a while ago and the words spoken on the radio have stopped making sense. there is only traffic.
a city is a city,
a city lies to you,
by making you believe,
that it may love you.
at some point the tea you’re holding has become the only warmth you know. the seagulls fly around you, screaming. you hear the waves and wonder if anyone is swimming in the bosphorus right now. someone always is. it’s february.
a city is a city,
and it makes sure that you,
don’t belong anywhere else,
and don’t belong there too.
the buildings are old and brown and the pavement is nothing but paved. you use the cryptic graffiti to find your way around, you’ve been here before but you can’t remember. a cat darts out of a big, square garbage bin.
a city is a city,
no matter what you say.
a city is a city,
and you’re not there today.
the weather means as little as an address on the side you don’t live on. the judas trees paint both sides of the sea pink, that’s how you know it’s spring. that and the tulips everywhere. you think of their cost and artificiality, history floods your mind. can anything new be beautiful?
a city is a city,
a city is blue,
a city is musical,
a city can’t hear you.
you avert your eyes to not feel the overwhelming guilt of history, decay and pain at every corner, isolation and poverty, you take a wrong turn and this neighborhood isn’t yours, is this city anyone’s? you do not make eye contact. the language of the tourists mixes into the one of the refugees.
a city is a city,
it will not hold your hand,
it has taught you to
love the wind instead.
the anxiety of something bad that is to happen if you don’t watch the clock and where you’re going, and the calm of the water sounds and the wind always go hand in hand. how can grey be so colorful, how can you miss it so much?
a city is a city,
and it always will be,
no matter what you call it,
no matter what you see.
you almost forgot about the pigeons. you used to come here and feed them every weekend, buy seeds from the same man. he still looks the same, sells seeds in the same tea glasses. you’re waiting for your friend, and he’s late, so you have to notice the pigeons. seeds stick to your shoelaces.
a city is a city,
makes you into a skeptic.
how can others really,
love you or the city?
monday becomes wednesday who grows endlessly like the gum you’re chewing, you spit it out since you’ve learned your future already. you buy simit and ayran and make it a meal, your last, if you will. everything flickers and the cars start again.
a city is a city.
one day you look up,
and realize you’ve left, but did you,
did you want to?

2.
your rainy streets a graveyard for cheap umbrellas
i’m not tired enough to be mad at you, not that heartbroken
not optimistic enough to challenge you,
not unfamiliar enough to fall in love either.
come on, win back my heart, lay out the stars tonight
only so i can breathe, i only ask out of selfishness

the cold stuck on my skin, won’t get out of between my toes
i am mud up to my knees, an alphabet of dots lines dots,
a blurry map.
but at least i’m going somewhere
at least i’ll be warm on the outside.

the smell on me isn’t new, just a memory, a remembering
i don’t want you remembering, i don’t want to remember
all your lights mix into one another, your sounds already not mine
your fog melts with my homemade one, thousands of lightnings under my skin, never end.

you care for your flowers better than you care for your children,
tell me if you want to be alone
i’m going anyway, to myself
i’ll come back if i can’t bear it.
not that i miss you, but your seagulls wait for me,
cats, cormorants, your sea,
and the stork i saw on a winter night.

you know i can’t admit i love you
sometimes i get angry, you’re ruthless, you’re crowded
i admit you didn’t hurt me much, it was me
we’ll talk later, cover me now,
you’re in me anyway.
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