Jeffrey Kahrs

Jeffrey Kahrs

Jeffrey Kahrs is the author of One Hook at a Time: A History of the Deep Sea Fishermen’s Union of the Pacific (Deep Sea Fishermen’s Union, 2015), funded through a grant from 4Culture, the cultural funding agency for King County, Wash. Kahrs co-edited an issue of the Atlanta Review on poetry in Turkey (Spring/Summer 2006, Volume XII, Issue Number 2), and also co-edited a section of the Turkish translation magazine Çevirmenin Notu on English-language poets in Istanbul in 2011. His writing has appeared in Talisman, Sky Island Journal, What Rough Beast, Subtropics and other journals. He has also published non-fiction in Bosphorus Review of Books, Heavy Feather Review, PN Review, Talisman and Tikkun. Kahrs was a 2012 winner of the Nazim Hikmet Poetry Contest. He has co-translated notable Turkish poets like Gülten Akın, Beçhet Necatıgil, Bekir Dadır and others. He holds a BA in Dramatic Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MA from Boston University. He lived in Istanbul for 18 years.

I Know You Said

Static is the inevitable
and frightening position of placing
my ear to the shell
of our conversation

knowing who we are
dismembers our words

breaks apart our timbre

makes terra incognita a
known fact

This is how
we sailed round every headland
to face the headwind

and still it sounds less
like rocks then the splash
in the great pond
we are exquisitely
transforming into ripples
of ourselves


The bleak Poyraz blew steady.
Cold pierced my body but couldn’t lance the pain—
a horn honked again and again like a headache.
It found me on the terrace hiding from myself
and you. Through the curtains I stared at
scrimmed shapes of furniture in the living room.
It was a shadow play.
In it nothing moved and the room was empty.
Your silhouette was everywhere.
I could taste my heart clot in my mouth.

I’m testing you this spring to find out if we’re alive.
I’m alive. The days scratch the walls of my veins.
I’ve been celebrating coal smoke and rain.
I’ve tried to buy lies at an affordable price
but the bazaars and their bolts of cloth
can’t cover the truth.

At least I know why I’ve settled
in this city of graveyards.

Mehmet and Hatice’s Patio

Sitting around table
chatting four o’clock
August sunlight

Can heat coming off concrete
be more perfect?

An ancient oak to the west
tops a rise     I can see the sea island’s
pixilated lie captured—
rugged Chios won’t return us
to deckchairs or drink tea

(Your photo of the boy and girl
leaning on a cement rail
close as Siamese twins
staring into the Bosphorus
is packed in butcher paper
in storage).

So we chew bitter daisies
and choke on exhaust

I promise I will wash spit
from my mouth     love better

I will get between my teeth
Cleanse gaps of rotting food

and I will trace our skins’ comments
marking beginning’s end
with our sweat

So a kiss comes and goes
and still
this lovely blue sky

If we can we can
we must try

Water on the Window

Air like a day-old loaf
goes for half price
but I pay top dollar
just the same. Ouch

conductor, something light
for my dyspepsia. The Dramamine
is kicking in—

if you must sing like a boat
sing like a boat.

The day is a lantern swinging
in darkness: headlights
crossing the bridge
in opposite directions,

and right now I wish
it would rain . . . or
a crow would slide by
on this moonless night.

Fat chance but there
you have it: the air is warm,
the storm will soon swallow it,

and I am ready to sing like pistons,
the keel, the turning screw
boiling water off the stern.

The shore disappears, approaches,
the city drives by.

For other contributions by Jeffrey Kahrs, please follow the links below:

Poetry in this post: © Jeffrey Kahrs
Published with the permission of Jeffrey Kahrs