Coming To Istanbul

Follow the gaze of Athena
down a cistern where water glows.

Follow silver snakes along Marmara
and Golden Horn.

Walk over the black plaque for Hrant Dink
smack in the street in Shishli.

Follow the ferry-waves to Uskudar—
where your father was born,

where your uncle returned
incognito from prison—

Drink the split bourbon voice of Ray Charles
in the café in Taxsim

under the red flags of star and moon
guns to the head, wild prayer–

streets banging with pots and pans
rage at the dictator.

Walk by in oblivion and terror
an American, an Armenian, black shirt

under the olive-trellised restaurant
hotel rooftop light-rinsed Bosphorus

hot raki fumes in the throat
under the wind-umbrellas

boutique class facades of Beyolglu
galleries of blue mosaics, magenta carpets–

The Ottoman historian pours you
tahn and wine into the sunset.

Follow the lights on the bridge
into the chandelier of the sky

trompe d’loeil of Gray Wolves
voices of Turkish friends in the stone.

Follow ghost signs midnight cab
smashed café windows

night-sea journey of beloveds
byzantine dirt smoke roads

past Tobacco Regie and sultana crates,
Haydarpasha of Armenian-soul death hour.

Lost family come greet me in your city.


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