This is a sestina I wrote when I was waiting to get surgery after my arm got broken. A sestina, for those of you who don’t know, is a poem with six stanzas and an envoi. Each stanza has six lines, and each line ends with one of the same six words in a different order. The three-line envoi at the end has all six words, two per line. The challenge for the poet is to come up with new ways to reuse each of the six words so that they appear fresh in the readers’ minds. I used a sestina form to talk about having a broken arm and waiting around, because waiting around at home for a week while you’re sorta crippled involves a lot of repetition of the same tiny things over and over again, as an escape from the boredom of being basically unable to do anything. The six words I picked were open, sunlight, calico, alternating, painkillers, and boring.

The pain shimmies down the arm. I could open

the Velcro braces on the cast, but we’d just be alternating

from worse to a different kind of worse, no? The calico

cat pads in to peek at me on the bed, to find sunlight,

to take its feline stock of the room. Time for more painkillers.

Even Netflix playing through this stasis seems boring.

Who sings this theme song? Enya? Her wails boring

into my ear cavities, blood pounding in my open

heart. When this prescription of cheap codeine painkillers

runs out, I have to go back to alternating

ibuprofen and paracetamol, 500 grams of sunlight

which give me peace, at least for a 6-hour period, a bitter calico

flavor as they dissolve. My cheap-ass laptop flickers in calico.

The screen tells me the battery’s weak, but I don’t care. If I have to watch one more boring

episode of a ten-year-old series with youthful actors, I’ll leap into sunlight

and let the rest of my bones splinter in the open

air. A siren in the distance, its alternating

pitches briefly scare the kids dealing painkillers,

who confuse the paramedics with neighborhood cops. Painkillers

don’t work, not totally. Not enough to shut out the calico-

patterned ache and release, relief and spasms alternating.

Waiting around for a surgery can be awfully boring.

Waiting around until some septuagenarian surgeon has an open

slot in his schedule. Perhaps it was the privilege, the sunlight

of education bestowed upon him, perhaps it was just the sunlight

of money gave him the authority to dole out painkillers,

and these opiods make me constipated. I startle the cat yet again as I head through the open

kitchen door to make another pot of coffee, she gallops, a calico

tinkling from a bell at her throat. The caffeine boring

through my guts make my cycle an alternating

spectacle of rancid farts. My plug shorts out. Netflix vanishes. The alternating

current from the outlet has died in a flash of electric sunlight.

It’s dark, for a few minutes. The cat again pokes her furry head in, finds me boring,

leaves. Would I be more interesting on painkillers?

You know you’re in trouble when you barter the calico

of your consciousness for a cat’s attention. I’m open

to the idea. Could be boring, but anything’s better than this alternating

weight of open suffering in the Junebug sunlight,

high on painkillers, the skin above the bone in bruise of calico.







when you wake up hungover and want to write about destiny:

every word, so slow to come, is destiny to say

nothing can be unsaid until you scrap out the worst

parts but stop the cart keep rolling,

the only form, sounded out by tenzing the throat-singer, can

be a starstretched poem emptied out pouring quiet:

whether it’s good or bad it’s still your destiny and you’re still hungover.

go and find.


If you could not see me for seven years more

would you pop off facebook and leave me alone

would I have to seek you in the sage hollow fair

or would you just text me later


confront the ugly-faced gremlin who says everything you do is stupid

and wave your genitals at him in the crudest way


A half-eaten greyfut

it wasn’t very good

but then again, what did you expect? a grapefruit?











from way back in a notebook from Nov. 2014.


table of contents


Two men went to draw water from the well. One man said,
“My pot is broken, let me share yours.” But the other man was greedy, and dashed his pot upon the ground.
“You idiot!” The first cried. “We will have to go back empty-handed!”
“No,” said the second, “you will. I will carry the shards of my pot.”
He carried them home and planted them, and come summer
They had grown into a beautiful flowering bush.

My cousin wrote a folk tale. Text: "Once upon a time there was poop. They pooped on poop, so they pooped on the poop. Then after everyone pooped on the poop, the poop died. The poop's eggs hatched and made new poop. THE END. I didn't want to say poop."

Starting a poem over again

So I tried to write a poem to a howling gypsy woman in my bathrobe
sitting on orkun’s couch on a sunny weird morning
we had bulgur pilav for breakfast
jari made it with allspice, two fried ehhs, pepper, onion garlic,
two friend ahds

but anyways I want to be more a writer again
because I write sometimes
and this is what I am a writer
a writer who writes with both feet pointed down
a writer who is afraid of the whole world collapsing
and with my own two words (which are my hands in this metaphor within a metaphor)
I get to hold the construction up withont falling down myself

and then I thought about editing this piece of work and

so the world fell down


anna and I had a long talk last night about what the hell we’re doing with ourselves in turkey. important conclusions reached–america is a country which encourages you to stay in one place. it’s set up so you lock like a barnacle on some fixed location and let detritus collect around you. It sounds sort of negative like that huh. but she has a lot of friends in florida who can’t afford to live anywhere else except with their parents (and I have friends in similar situations as well). In a place like florida or alaska, you have to get a car, which ties you to a place, and a heavy american lease, which ties you to a place.

you know, the most excited I’ve ever been for the future was right after I graduated college, and I just could see it. I’ve never really been able to see beyond maybe a year or so. (the biggest difference between me now and my younger self is that I have more faith that things will materialize if I pay attention, but it caused me a lot of stress back then). I was thinking–here I am in seattle, I’ve always wanted to be an actor and become an artistic force–before I went to college, i imagined a combination where philosophy would be the research to fuel my theater work–and I realized I had all the time and power and energy to make that sort of thing happen. It was really exciting and I could see it. Then I gave it up.

That really bothered me for a long time. Why would I do that? I gave up that future — again, not just a dream, but something which I could see and feel so near to me, something which gave me a lot of hope — to basically be homeless on a train for four months or so. And then Georgia, and then (seattle and AK again and) Turkey.

I guess my life experience had been sort of narrow. If I had stayed, I would have just wondered the whole time what it would have been like, to travel around, as my priorities would have been tied to where I was. The price, anna and I discussed, for living as expats (especially in Istanbul, the zaniest of cities) is that we live in a liquid uncertainty. I have no idea what will happen next. That keeps me very humble and pretty content, usually. Living in the US and doing it right, for me, would have meant knowing exactly what was going to happen.

Younger ernie really wanted to know what he was about. Very obsessed with the meaning of life, many years spent certain that once he figured it all out, he would finally move forward on Changing the World. Given the choice of a future he understood and a future he didn’t, guess which he chose. It was the only choice.