Two Poems by Ayşe Tekşen






There are cuts on paper,

Scissors on cuts,

Paper on scissors,

Hands on scissors,

Scissors on paper,

Paper on hands,

And our hands on paper.

Ours is a war on paper,

Rather than on scissors.

One can be cut by the scissors.

Doesn’t the other one also cut?

It does! Even more badly,

And metaphorically

More deeply.


I’m not American, but I’m married to one.

I teach music to kids who don’t give a damn

about the music of the heart. The human heart is

the greatest instrument, I want to tell them.

I want to remind them of my name which is

the name of an art performed on still water,

just like their own names are, maybe.

But no one listens or wants to. Irma will

make them do the unwanted task. She is good,

better than me, I must admit. But if only

she didn’t want to take my family, my land,

my air, and my water. During the day

I teach music, and at night I feed my

little children with the left over soup of last night.

The oven is on, and we three snuggle before it—

the only source of heat we have to get warm.

My husband is not home yet, but no wonder

where he is. He is listening to Irma, singing,

whistling and clapping vigorously. Poor he

doesn’t know what awaits him. Irma, one of her kind,

performs her art smoothly—without awakening

even the newborn grass and the tiny rain drops on them.

She can take you silently, her hands on your waist,

your neck and your shoulders. She can shake

the earth and can still it with her one single touch.

Smooth criminal we can call her

or a friend of the devil. No matter what we call her,

I remind my kids that we should get ready

for the time when she will come for us.

I tell them of her twirling body, her movements

as if she has promised to slice us in half

with the glowing steel she holds in her hands,

posing before a tree she couldn’t manage to

break the previous time. She whispers she will come,

and haunt, like a dark wolf coming out of

the still forest at dusk. We should be warned to take

our husbands, wives, mothers, fathers and

little children to the shelters. She will come,

devour, destroy, and make us beg on

our knees once more; for she is no child of

Gaia the great mother. She will come with a hurl

and will not be gone with a curl. Not this time.


Ayşe Tekşen lives in Ankara, Turkey where she works as a research assistant at the Department of Foreign Language Education, Middle East Technical University. Her short stories and poems have been included in Gravel, After the Pause, The Write Launch, Uut Poetry, The Fiction Pool, What Rough Beast, Scarlet Leaf Review, Seshat Literary Magazine, Neologism Poetry Journal, Anapest, and Red Weather. Her work has also appeared or is forthcoming in Constellations, Jaffat El Aqlam, and The Paragon Journal.