Bodies (2)

After a cold shower, I get dressed. Black shorts, a black singlet. The air-conditioning hums a vibrating melody of its own, birds chirp outside, and in the distance I can hear an old 80s-number one-hit: “I like Chopin…” Watching myself in the mirror, I flex the muscles of my left arm, then my right. I feel my biceps and decide I’d better do some sports this week. One has to maintain one’s working assets, after all.
That’s when I remember I’m supposed to take a decision. To stay fit and muscled is not the best idea, I gather, if I choose to…
I rummage through the breast pocket of my jacket and take out my mobile. It’s an instinctive reaction. Even though I try to persuade myself that I only do it because I need to know how late it is.
Almost noon. And an icon is blinking. I must’ve received several text messages while showering.
Resisting the temptation to sigh, I quickly go through the messages. My network provider has sent most of them. “Welcome to Turkey; you’re now using the Turkcell network; here’s the pricelist for phone calls, text messages, multimedia messages; if you want to call someone in France, do not forget to dial +33 before dialling the phone number”, that sort of stuff.
Which leaves me with three text messages sent from three different numbers the international digits of which I do not recognize.
All three convey the same content:
we know who you are.
we know where you are.
we know what you’re doing.
Peeved, I look around as if to make sure no one else reads the messages. It’s no rational move. I’m alone in this big, chilly, glitzy but uninspired room.
we know who you are.
we know where you are.
we know what you’re doing.
I sit down on the bed, stare at the last SMS, and feel new questions bubble up in my head. How many messages have I received in total? What do they mean? How shall I react?
I could simply ignore their existence, shrug them off. I’m capable of that; better: I’m an expert when it comes to ignoring things, when it comes to muttering “Who cares?” It’s not a method that makes unpleasant things disappear, but one that helps to avoid questions. Which, in turn, helps to avoid stumbling upon unwanted answers.
But ever since I’ve spoken to Jane, I’m wading through a swamp of doubts. What if she was right with her zany explanations? What if this was a serious situation, as she suggested? What if I was really bound to shake off my certainties and react?
First, I found it ridiculous. All these stories about secret services, foreign intelligence agents, baksheesh, and stuff.
Oh, sure, in my opinion, father was capable of getting involved in fishy business. To spy on his country on behalf of a foreign nation shows enough bad taste that it would fit his character. Father was never one to shy away from bad taste.
I have evidence. He married mother, after all. And he was in politics.
Jane spoke about money, too; loads of it. Money father was supposed to have cashed in as payment for his permanent treason. A fortune. There again I recognize one of his traits.
But the more she insisted, the more I became inclined to not believe her. I found her stories too far-fetched. Why would the Americans pay to know what’s going on in the French government? It’s ridiculous!
Finally, I started to falter while waiting at the airport in Rome. Someone left me a voice message, that’s why. A man with a strong Eastern European accent whispering in English, “Not convinced yet? You should be more careful. Accidents can happen so fast…” The message bore all the signs of a B-movie. Yet it made everything Jane had told me look, and feel, real.
Doubts, doubts, doubts… they seem to grow and overwhelm me. I don’t like that sensation. I sigh.
That’s when the mobile vibrates again, pulling me out of my fruitless pondering. It’s a new text message written in a foreign language:
Yapmanız ne yapıyorsun
I only recognize one word. I’ve seen it a couple of times while riding the taxi that brought me here from the airport. It’s a word they use on their traffic signs. The word “dur”. Meaning “Stop!”


Book launch of my new poetry collection "twenty-five" on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014,


Bodies (1)

we know where
you are, we know
what you’re doing.

The purring air-conditioning is breathing on my neck as I’m reading the text message. My eyes sting, a shiver tiptoes up my spine. It’s bloody freezing in here. With a sigh I slip my mobile into the breast pocket of my black jacket and try to concentrate on the next task. “I’m Marc Laforge”, I say in English. “Someone must have booked a room for me.”
The receptionist is a thickset guy, almost bald but for some oily, shiny strands of hair he has combed over the top of his head. He looks me up and down, then his face curls into a slimy smile. “Yes, I’ve been informed of your arrival. Let me show you to your room.” The man’s English is faultless, his facial expression sleek and polite, his words remain neutral. And yet, something bothers me. The suggestive tone perhaps? Even if “suggestive” might be an over-reaction of my imagination. I’m very tired, so everything is possible.
The receptionist leaves the reception desk and places a dank hand on my elbow. “I hope you will enjoy your stay in Hiçbiryerde”, he says, lightly pressing upon my arm. He insists a second too long, which makes me understand that, tired or not, I haven’t imagined anything. He thinks he’s subtle, but his demeanour, full of insinuations, affects me the same way it would if he was permanently winking at me.
I don’t like it. My stare turns black.
The man doesn’t even notice. He lets go of my arm and turns toward a door behind the reception desk. “Erkan!” he shouts, his voice commanding. “Erkan!”
A young boy in red livery and with very black hair slips out.
Barely looking at him, the receptionist lifts his chin, snaps his fingers and points at my luggage with a disdainful twist of his hand.
The youngster bows, joins us, lifts up my suitcases. His face remains blank, his gaze fixed on his shoes. The air-conditioning in my back is still huffing and murmuring ominous, cold messages.
With an unctuous smile, the receptionist turns back to me. “Follow me, please, sir.”
Our little group proceeds toward the bay windows. We step out onto the huge and empty terrace of a restaurant, the muggy heat immediately coating us like a film. I expected bright sunshine before coming here; but apparently, I don’t deserve sunshine. An ashen haze veils the sky and stretches like cellophane over the country. Only some diffuse, strange and wadded light filters through, bedimming all colours. Lush plants grow around the terrace, but in these conditions, they look grey and dull. Palm-trees, pines, plane-trees, rose bushes, rhododendrons, bougainvillea, all sad and motionless, waiting for something to come about, waiting for a booming event to happen, waiting for rain to cool down the atmosphere. Or maybe for the world to die in a sigh of relief.
We’ve only made three steps, and I feel like a jugged piece of meat. My clothes stick to my skin. Fortunately, I haven’t taken off my jacket. Therefore my transpiration remains an unpleasant reaction, but an invisible one. The receptionist, who’s wiggling his broad ass in front of me, is less fortunate; little by little, dark patches appear on his blue shirt.
Behind a rose-bush, a man in his fifties or sixties wearing an expensive suit and tie is sitting at one of the empty tables, holding a cigarillo as thin as his moustache in one hand. He gazes at us, deems us unworthy of his curiosity, and goes back to leafing through the latest edition of the “Hürriyet”.
On the other side of the terrace, I glimpse a swimming pool and a bar. On first sight, everything looks empty, too. Yet when we turn around a bush, I discover a couple lying on two deckchairs. A woman, a man. They’re so obviously German that I reckon no one ever asks them to show their passports when they travel abroad. I guess they are retired. They both have blondish-greyish hair and wear serious clothes—shorts and polo-shirts—as well as serious faces. All in all, they seem tidy, clean, almost statutory. The missus is reading “Brigitte”; her hubby, the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”. Although they don’t lift their heads from their paragraphs, I can’t shake off the impression that they’ve been observing me.
We step down from the terrace onto a concrete path that runs in odd curves through the perfectly kept garden. “We will have to walk a bit”, the receptionist explains. “Whenever he sojourns here, Mister Zenkin asks for the dependency. You won’t be interrupted there during your—”, he turns around and puts a lewd stress on his next words, “— your working sessions.”
I don’t react. I’m hot, terribly hot, and I’m tired. I’ve been kicking my heels at the airport a whole night long. Murat has informed me at the last minute; therefore, I haven’t been able to get a direct flight. Which explains why I had to accept a stopover in Rome. I got there at eleven p.m., yesterday. A young Alitalia chick told me they had problems with the connecting flights and had re-scheduled mine for this morning. She apologized, handed me a couple of vouchers for food and beverages, and led me to the VIP-Lounge, where she left me to my own, sad devices. I tried to read, I tried to sleep. But I spent most of my time staring out of the huge bay windows, observing the star-spangled night sky above Fiumicino, which I found abominably boring. Again and again, I paced up and down the muffled, soulless containment, turning around and around like the proverbial tiger in its cage.
My thoughts were turning around and around, too. Turning, turning, turning, a real washing machine.
No surprise that I’m so weary now. I never wanted to mull over things so much. It’s that Jane has provided serious ground for thought; that’s why I’ve accepted Murat’s invitation without hesitating a moment. I wanted, I needed some days to breathe. In order to not go bonkers. I shouldn’t have counted on Alitalia, though, to help.
We leave the concrete path and reach a low building. “Has Mister Zenkin arrived yet?” I want to know.
“Not yet”, the receptionist says. “We expect him to arrive this evening. He has asked me to tell you that he’ll… summon you as soon as he needs you.” This choice of phrasing seems to please him a lot; he can’t help but express his satisfaction that someone he must consider as socially superior is treated like an underdog by someone else, who’s even higher up the social ladder. “In the meantime—do you need something?” he asks, his voice still smug, satisfied, almost complicit.
“No,” I answer in a dry tone. “Just, you know, do what you’re paid for. Show me to my room, for a starter. That’s all I ask.” This is so not me! But that guy needs to understand that as a client, I remain superior to him. We’ll never be best mates.
I notice that my attitude hits home. The man’s sleek obsequiousness cracks and lets me catch a glimpse of irritation as he says, “This way, sir. Your room is upstairs. Follow me.”



along the shore
the deep deep lake
mirror waters
a high mountain range
swimming backwards, lazily

maraca leaves
reminding me
of Rio and the thirteen
Samba lessons
back in ‘62

that’s all there is:
lake, mountain, trees,
all passionate,
yellow, red, and orange,
and a blue autumn vault

I scratch the sky with the diamond
of my wedding ring,
and through the tear,
stars, black, and more memories,
undead and sore


Heathen Harrower*

“I’m a member of the Party”, he said,
“I’m a proud member of the Party”,
he said, and then: “I am”, he said,
am as being the present tense of to be”, he said,
“and I being a being,
    in whatever manner beings
    are interpreted—whether as spirit,
    after the fashion of spiritualism;
    or as matter and force,
    after the fashion of materialism;
    or as becoming and life,
    or idea,
    or energeia;
    or as the eternal recurrence of the same event—
    every time, beings as beings
    appear in the light of Being”,
he said,
“so I, the being, am
a proud member,” he said,
“of the Party”, he said,
THE Party”, he said and rapped
on his desk with a white knuckle,
    “the 'essence' of being there
    lies in its existence”, he shouted,
and rapping on the desk again,
he yelled, “I am a proud
member of the

We didn’t listen to what he added afterwards, about
    the Dasein being essentially temporal,
    its temporal character derived
    from the tripartite ontological structure:
    existence, thrownness, and fallenness
    by which Dasein’s being is described,
    existence meaning that
    Dasein is potentiality-for-being
    or, as he called it, Seinkönnen;
    it projects its being upon
    various possibilities,
    and existence represents thus
    the phenomenon of the future;
no, we didn’t listen
because we didn’t understand.
But we heard what he
did not say,
which was that
he had lain with an Ische*,
as if he had the right to do so,
and that he had loved her
as if a sane man could,
but that he hated
and always had.

He was
member of the Party.

That we heard.
That we confirm.


* Literal translation of the philosopher's family name: Heathen, in German, is Heide (also possible in the shortened form of Heid); a harrow, in German, is Egge (a harrower would be an Egger). This poem is not meant to be a discussion of Heidegger's philosophy. The indented parts are direct quotes of his work.
** Ische is the yiddish word for a (Jewish) woman with low moral standards (a prostitute in other words) as opposed to Schickse, which is the word used for a non-Jewish woman.



doesn’t matter that
our snobish suburb has become
the loneliest, emptiest place
while the big city still
palpitates in the distance
like a gushing fatal wound

doesn’t matter that
even the birds have
deserted this forsaken spot
and that the autumn wind,
tousling the dark pines,
blows harder in order to
leave as fast as possible

doesn’t matter that
I feel hungover like
on Sunday mornings back
when I was twenty and
had danced all night,
only this time I ain’t,
sadly, and I haven’t

doesn’t matter because
when everything seems
too heavy and hollow for
my shoulders, suddenly
a newborn morning
lashes out and crowns
you with melted gold