Yeşim Ağaoğlu

Yeşim Ağaoğlu

Yeşim Ağaoğlu was born in Istanbul. Studied at the University Of Istanbul, Department Of Archaeology. Master of arts degree at the University Of Istanbul, Faculty Of Communications, Department of Radio-TV-Cinema. Attended a course on film using super 8 camera at the New York School Of Visual Arts and this course has resulted in a short film called “Loneliness, Machines And Meditation”.

Poems have been published in literary journals since the age of 18. Has seven poetry books published in Turkey and also two poetry books published in Azerbaijan. A member of the PEN International Writers’ Club and also BESAM (Creators of Scientific and Literary Works Association). Also a board member of the Writers at banishment. Biographies are in some literature and art encyclopaedias and poems in anthologies.

Has been continuing contemporary art activities combining different disciplines since 1996.

Poetry Books published

  • “yanlışlar şehrinde randevu” “rendezvous in the mistaken city”” (October 1995) Liman publications, İstanbul.
  • “hırsızlama aşklar, gri yalnızlıklar” “love stolen, loneliness grey” (November 1996) Liman publications, İstanbul.
  • “portakal tek meyve değildir” “oranges are not the only fruit” (March 1997) Liman publications, İstanbul.
  • “başka gezegenin insanları” “people of another planet” (March 1997) Liman publications, İstanbul.
  • “new york blues” “new york blues” (March 1997) Liman publications, İstanbul.
  • “özlem şehirleri” “missing cities” (2006) Free Writers Society publications, Baku, Azerbaijan.
  • “eflatun sır” “purple secret” (March 2007) Yitik Ülke publications, İstanbul.
  • “güllerin ağırlığı” “heaviness of the roses” (2007) published in Russian and Turkish, Baku, Azerbaijan.
  • “sana şiir yazmasam olur mu” “is it all right if I will not write you any poem” (2011) Yitik Ülke publications, İstanbul.

empty garden

your pillow howls
i howl
you’re gone, so is your black hair
were you here i’d rest my head on your shoulder,
i know your heart beating fast,
your pasted-on wings racing with birds
once again you’ve burnt down my lushest forest
left me bereft of you
your absence a knife cutting velvet

your pillow weeps
i weep,
the snow even has melted but you’re not back
no blood much pain your being gone
left behind you one denuded garden

the room at the end of the corridor

she lives in hotel rooms
her room at the corridor’s end
i think of her walking out of the door.
suitcase in hand
every corner spic and span
never a trace left behind when she leaves
then in another hotel room
a new beginning

i think of her sitting at her desk
her lamp on
shoulders slightly humped
pen in hand.
reading something or writing
whichever hotel it is
its her at the corridor’s end
suitcase on the floor
ready for the next move


i throw the fishes into the sea,
make them drink up the sea
but the sea is not finished
neiher is the night.
i’m ill, fever running to 39
alone hopeless a stranger in this town
i’m having dreams
weird dreams runaway from paintings
most surreal
pink horses i see
grazing in your fields
pink horses with wet, slippery skin
could i but mount you on one
so you could gallop away
to your own dream places
i can not find you
always you are where you shouldn’t be
i throw the fishes up to the night
so they can eat it up
but the night is unfinished
i jump on one of the pink horses
you’re not there
so puncturing the night right through its middle
off i go any which where

my tongue licks

my tongue slithers along nocturnal streets.
slides around licking nooks and corners
wherever it moves
licks people sometimes
ah, but that’s the danger
my tongue hears the sound of a horn
a black man playing his horn
lick first the horn then the black man’s mouth
then a guitar amply electrified
a punk’s head, green
lick the winos slouching on the corner
lick the night
hard, as though to bring on the dawn
my tongue has turned soot black
and at long last its you it licks hard as it can
and suddenly we look and its already dawn.

camel trophy

  we too once made horse-foot love, rabbit-paw,
  casting off breasts and moustaches out of the window,
  out of the door, arms and legs.
  i’m not a novelist
  dont punish the publishers
  dont gouge your eye out on my account
  i always write knee high poems
you wish me behind the camera now
extraordinary movies giant sized
the misty excitement of the cinema
the witches’ cauldron bubbly boiling
our love too was once a private jet
an all yellow camel trophy
so many deep purple days with you
too shameful for the public gaze
black rose, crimson tulip
floral ice-cream, stark naked banana
we were a pair of wet slugs in those days
ever burying in wrong holes
the sum of lust 372.5 kilos
put your hands up
i don’t want to choke you
please don’t die the one-eye death.

what’s happened to us

have we gone down with the titanic?
or got lost in the bermuda triangle mysteries?
oh, what’s happened to us my dear?
somewhere we have mislaid something
no more parachutes falling down on the bed
no more space ships squeaking like birds
i cut down my bean stalks before they could grow into trees

oh what’s happened to me, my dear
had they told me i’d have wept
yet my eyes are dry like walnut shells.

and you, what’s happened to you?
porpoises used to gambol in your snuggest corners
in those days my words would have hurt
didn’t you use to say you hated the rhinoceros?
what a liar you turn out to be
oh, whats happened to us my dear!

icy poem

ice blooming tulip
derwish whirling on ice
white falcon black eagle
wings frozen in ice
rudolf’s slender legs
a ballerinas arms outstretched to the sky
thorns growing along
the icy path leading to god
a swan breathing his last on the ice
the body of an ice- drowned lily- of- the- pond

while you, how very hot you are
as if challenging all things icy
how hot your stalactites and stalagmites
wish you were here so all the ice could melt

night of the knife

it was a knife, lying beside me that night
sharp as nail and gold-tooth bright
i saw my own self at times
my face was red
under the assault of a thousand fireflies
and my eyes two crimson carnations
i was burning, my whole body on fire
yes, it was a knife lying beside me that night
it was no accident its lying with me
i had taken it to my bosom, tempted it
with brazen looks, revealing my most private places
the sin is all mine
i breathed with my breasts that night
my lips short-circuited
and it, you’d think it was no knife
so docile lying beside me in bed
never mind its so rough sharpness
it was like a gentle dolphin
no thoughts of bloody anger or revenge had it
the night was terrific, the moon a perfect round hole in the sky
i spent the night away with that knife
sadly it lost its brightness in time
the fireflies died and the carnations withered one by one
my conflagration dimmed away
fatigued i fell into my umpteenth sleep
no, it hadn’t been easy, after all
it was a knife lying by my side
now my breasts are like a sailboat afloat on the sea
my lips like spent gulls on the sand
awakening, there was no knife or any other trace from the night
i ran to the kitchen
blood was seeping from the sharpest point of a knife
gently i picked it up and tossed it away in the garbage
the sin is all mine


letters fluttering in the sky
winged, spangled letters
letters filled with recriminations, hurt and heart-break

letters bottled, floating on the surface of seas
letters slow dowdling, too late
letters for lovers, friends and mothers

letters on the rails of choo-choo trains
some of them run-over, bleeding
bleeding most profusely, those
that regret ever having been written

letters entangled on bycle wheels
cheer-giving, sad-making letters
and the most beautiful those still unwritten

nightmare shells

whenever i awaken
you are not there
i am myself by my side
i and the shells of my dreams left over from the night
like used up eggs
and who would you say had laid those eggs

water was drowned in water last night
i saw the swollen body of each rain drop
on the surface of the turgid, purple sea

and the wind didn’t know how to take wing
never mind that it blew everything away
it kept falling flat on his head on the ground

whenever i awaken soaked in bloody sweat
you are not there
only myself and the broken shells of my nightmare
are by my side.

déjà vu

we never dwelled in the same cities
never got mired in the same smogs
he always had ports
and toy sailors of his own.
whereas what i had were bridges
forever uncrossed

we never sailed our boats in the same poems
never frequented the same tales
our movies also were never the same
in his, the star marlene dietrich mostly
even the bars we patronised were not alike
his being dark and reached down by stairs
whereas mine all lit up deliriously
most strange because according to him,
it felt as if we’d known each other of old

dressed in time

he took off every thing that was on him
stark naked his body
save for the watch on his arm
jet-black wrist watch
so he donned that wrist watch, dressed himself up in time
like putting on a black cloak
the year was the space quarter, the season winter
the day tuesday
life lived on the spur of the moment as always
the watch works ticking on
his body works ticking on, forever alert
time, ever so abstract
now melted, dripping
as in dali’s painting
and where the hands of the watch meet
is his most punctual spot now.

new york blues

new york slipping falls from my hands
and you fall with it too
manhattan afloat in rain puddles
like a black-and-white photograph
as cubic as it can be
comparing the chrysler building with the tower of galata
i find one is a crystal chandelier
the other a reading lamp with a bust up light bulb
and you, you are like the figures in modigliani’s…
but no, no,
in matisse’s paintings
slipping from between my fingers against my wish
we’re playing an e:t game
in the sistine chapel
knee-high in melancholy
i myself are falling down your back
higgly-piggly to truth’s core
now the minarets have grazed me again
remain in good cheer, my one and only
and fare-thee-well, new york you whore


i have flown on ships in the sky
swam in seas of by-gone times
lived in dark tunnels
and strolled on the backs of rats
i dressed in stark black then
blood seeped from my smiles
i made love with snakes
my nails a scorpion each
used to spit razor blades
bats took off from my eyes when i gazed
a nest for owls my hair
the screech of vultures my laugh
and then, you know, i saw you
i got down from the backs of rats
it was a dolphin brought me here
i laughed and made roses for you
stars sparkled from my gaze
i took all my clothes off
the scorpions fled, the bats flew away
then suddenly what should i see
a snake was nesting in your bosom also

greatest of follies

to look for you in this enormous city
is to simmer in witches’ cauldrons
to scale skyscrapers and jump down parachuteless
so, you’re not here then
you went away, leaving an insipid goodbye behind
each time i think about you
i recall a different one of your verities

i don’t know which avenues you walk across
which bar you sit in to sip your drink
if the restaurant you choose is spanish or french
a short tea-break in the museum’s garden
the opening of an art show
out of a hundred movies which one do you choose?

funny, you do none of these
if only i knew which shop window attracts you
where do you buy your shoes
may be we’d see one another in the subway
you, hurrying, would jump on a car and depart
i’d of course miss the train again
you’d try to say something
i wouldn’t hear it through the din
you might very well be in a yellow cab whizzing by
to look for you in this enormous city is the biggest folly of all

night’s dress

the night says, i’m coming, before it comes
comes quietly
dresses in black clothes
christ, what an awesome attire

the night comes mostly to his house
to his terrible garden
where once laughter dripped
from the leaves of the ivy
then the games of candles with the moon
and those lamps rainbow hued
the liquor spilling out of lions’ maws
crystal cups a thousand pieces at the end of the night
mistaken for stars by those who see them

the night comes mostly to his pool
where once there was stark naked dancing
its water tainted now with blood
spurt by a bullet from the mouth of a gun

when night comes, a shade
secretly slips down to the garden
one by one it pulls in
the sculptures heavy like dead bodies
and the door closes
christ how terrible that closing sound

the water in the pool still red
thin wailings dripping from the ivy leaves
the candles playful in the moonlight
like shadows of a murder if you watch

when night comes the sculptures are all inside
maybe it’s a sphinx in his bosom now
so weirdly wailing

the night says i’m coming before it comes
christ how dark is the dress it wears

age of metallic loves

i know you miss me, so
i’ll send you the second me soon.
i’ll be all dressed up in iron armour
i’ll record my voice on cds
the voice proclaiming my love for you
my image on hard discs
so lovely and posed just as you like it
we’re in the age of metallic loves
wake up already we’re after indestructibleness
we will bend death’s wrist yet
push the keys of your computer
and you’ll get my meaning
i’ve shut us up tight inside it
our dnas and rnas belong to it now
ask and you’ll get all the answers about us
have you been missing my smell
soon it too will come to you
it’ll wing its way to you over the distances
flowers did you say,
i’ll be sending you bouquets of roses
heavenly smelling roses of iron
dont say you don’t want them we are
in the age of metallic loves after all.

do not ask me anything

  you’ve never seen thomas ray’s shop
  never seen the figures he makes
  all negro, all wood
  dark things go on in that shop at night
  as stark dark as a negro
  don’t ask cause i don’t know very much either
  being a stranger in these parts.

  you havent seen madame kaye’s shop either
  a shop from the 1930’s
  only women’s intimate wear is sold there
  satin, silk and lace underwear of all colors
  at night weird men come and go there
  what goes on i don’t know either
  don’t ask cause i’m a stranger in these parts

i can see your shadow stalking me
dressed in jealousy
sliding along pitch-dark walls
reminding me that i’m living wrong
fire at the tip of my tongue
my hair ablaze
explosions in my eyes
betrayal at the roots of my hair
please do not ask me anything,
cause i’m a stranger in these parts.

Yeşim Ağaoğlu
© Translations by Nihal Yeğinobalı

Published with the permission of Yeşim Ağaoğlu