Martin Ferguson was born in West Yorkshire. His poems have appeared, in among others, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Honest Ulsterman, The Poetry Village, The High Window, The Journal, International Times, Runcible Spoon, Kleksograph, Purple Patch and Stand (forthcoming). His first collection was shortlisted by Against the Grain Press and published in 2019 by Original Plus. He lives and works in France and was guest poet on Paris Spoken World Online, in July 2020.
A swim in the Marmara,
exchanging the breath of life
east and west entwine.
A medieval romance
to die for her kiss
her core at my lips;
sana asık oldum
hep seni düsünüyorum
sana ihtiyacım var
sensiz olamam …
A secular spell on the Bosphorus.
With our first we reach
equilibrium, seamless union,
each and every long kiss after
senses every other
then further …
the journey of the kiss continuum.
The liturgy of love
the ritual of unbroken meaning
familiar incarnations on the pebbles –
sepulchral statues of Salmacis
Our hands cemented,
and our exiled hearts together
Habitual ports of friendship
beneath the cliffs of Henna.
Behinds us, the ochre haze of Byzantium.
‘We’re all as mad as hatters here …’
And the clocks were all backward,
and the flags all soaked in blood,
and the great man’s picture was a vampire,
whose portrait hung in rust.
And the waiters all had scabies,
and the beer glasses smelt wet dog,
and sweat beads dropped on pages
and the heat was a brain of fog
and the planes were machines of time,
and the secrets were police from hell,
and I saw all this happen
and I heard it told so well
how the music was from the sirens,
the Kurdish girls were thrilling,
and the death wish taxi drivers,
drove Seats, with their windscreens missing.
And the memories were water
that blocked the urban drains
and the bay smelt of sewage
and the roaches all had ricketts.
And the city of fatal seduction
had a name that fizzed your brain,
like a paranoid virus reaction
to drive you near insane
and prison survivors filled the streets,
in the town that sharpened teeth,
and could take us all to task,
at the drop a burqa mask,
And the roads all led to the silk route
and the police all stormed the disco
in the town of civil war
where the cats were all informers
for the students who spoke in pigeon
and the sun set fire to Alsancak
through the evening study window,
and the Aegean was of a magic,
only those who saw could tell
and I heard all this happen
and I saw it told so well
that the bakıcı had a hangover,
and sprayed insecticide in our tea,
and the mantı tasted heaven,
and the sun tore down like steel
And down at Konak, in the tremours,
built from scratch upon the ashes,
you could see the towers sway,
like brides at the frozen altar.
Bakıcı: apartment caretaker
Alsancak: The large central quarter of Izmir
Mantı: Turkish dish, spiced lamb wrapped in thin dough, boiled or steamed.
Konak: Centre and most densely populated part of Izmir
Dolmuş: City minibus taxis
How it gutted his heart to cinders,
to catch her so delirious,
disillusioned, in a land where he too grew
equal in trouble, in disaffection.
And she made that decision to live,
to lumber, in a town, a country,
with such seeming revived potential, only
stifled and flawed, by its barbaric revival.
For him to see his mixed cousined birth land,
from the blackened southern skirts of Europe,
diaphanous, through her shaky sorrow,
her faint Mediterranean vowels
so peripheral now, distant breaking,
their disenchanted expectation,
her solitary confusion.
He heard his first world again,
through her tears on the telephone.
Where to turn, where to pass,
lost in the chilling lottery of words,
the whirling debris of lives
on her initial, slow and drawn,
stretched out, concrete heavy week.
Her delicate optimism,
effortlessly shattered, abandoned,
from the over bearing predatory muddle
of articulating streets.
Adrift amid a glacier
of foreign voices,
that sounded just like his.
Poetry in this post: © Martin Ferguson
Published with the permission of Martin Ferguson