Notes from a Kãmil Koç

Kãmil Koç is Turkey’s oldest bus company. In Turkish, the c with a cedilla
under it is pronounced as one would say ch in English.

Swaying from the windshield, a thick glass eye, dark blue,
sees all, fights evil as we travel south from Istanbul—

past fields of dark-maned horses. bountiful crops of plastic bags
glommed onto fences, collecting in ditches

where thin dogs roam, sniffing for anything luck has left—
wrapped or not, ready or wrought.

A turban’d farmer and his scarf-wrap’d wife bend over rows
of green in a stony field. Cows crowd a deep-muck byre.

Bunches of sunflowers, shiny peppers; onions, potatoes
stacked in ramshackle contrivances beside the roaring road.

In every town, conspiratorial men under trees
watch magenta-tartan’d schoolgirls giggle by.

Attaturk’s image drapes itself over apartment buildings:
hundreds of flapping moons chase stars in bright red skies.

A just-washed tractor beside us pulls a mounded load
of yellow melons, prints muddy chevrons on the road.

There, a riverbed waits for rain, cracked with the strain of it.
Here, the UFUK Hotel. It means horizon.

Where land meets sea—crawling over the hills—a malaise
of balconied stucco consumes the peach orchards, olive groves

while from the driver’s radio only the base notes are audible:
throom THROOM / throom THROOM—his heart-beat never enough.


Cats in Turkey

In ‘Stamboul, skinny ill-formed cats slink under cars,
under tables in bars—jump-wired
to the thin line between the urge to flee
and the pleading in the belly.
Fur falls out, bones grow soft.

In Ephesus, Pergamon, Seluk,
cats sleep on broken pediments, fallen capitals,
their bodies convoluted as folded acanthus leaves—
so still, tourists poke them to see if they’re dead
or just asleep—soaking up warmth from sun-bleached marble,
storing strength to scour the agora or the temple of Artemis
for descendants of Hellenistic spiders, Dyonesian mice.


In Ephesus

In Ephesus, their long shadows fall
on the luminous white stone of Curetes Streeet
smoothed and polished over centuries
by bare feet, sandals, shoes, hiking boots.
Under the marble
a whole sewer system intact
down to what was once the sea—
land that stretches now to Kusadasi.

They photograph themselves laughing
with blue-jeaned buts positioned
over holes in sun-warmed marble,
drinking from Trojan’s fountain,
leaning on pillars in the Celsus library,
cupping, kissing
winged Nike’s breast—

recording—for the moment or for posterity—
the part they played in history.


Anne Swannell

Anne Swannell

Anne Swannell is a writer, painter and mosaicist who lives in Victoria, Canada. She has published three books of poetry: Drawing Circles on the Water,  Mall (Rowan Books, 1991) and Shifting (Ekstasis Editions, 2008), and a children’s picture book, The Lost Kitten of Toledo. Lately she has been painting scenery for local theatre companies.