BROWN EYES . . . poems in memory of my father


Hello, Nazim … Hello!

After Nazim Hikmet

What happiness that today
I can be “open and confident”
Though normally I would hide
in the safety of feigned ignorance,
feign joy, pretend
that I can see my clear sky
in spite of his clouds

Respectfully, I provide the detail requested …

The year is 2016
The month, January
This the first Wednesday
The hour is 6 a.m.

now that i am getting to know you,
now that i am chest-high in your poesy
it’s your time that interests me
……….1902 ~

You were birthday twins, Nazim
You and my mysterious father,
born the same year, into the same culture,
spent your youth in that turmoil

If I study you, Nazim, will I find him, my diffident father,
in the dissident roots of your Turkish sensibility ~
they said he left with a price on his head
only to be caught, chained, imprisoned
in America, between a lover and a wife,
……….strong women . . .
………………..well, at least stronger than he

Hello Nazim!
I say “Hello!” gleefully
……….without a wink
I think we could have been perfect friends
that we might have understood each other
……….Hello! to you and your poetry
……………….Hello Nazim, Hello!

51TpdCJHSxL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Note: My father and Nazim Hikmet would have come of age just as WW I (1914-1918) was ending and the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1923) was beginning. Hikmet (1902-1963) was a renown poet, playwright and novelist, a communist and a revolutionary who spent his life in and out of jail. He won the International Peace Prize in 1950. My father (1902-1977) was a furrier. I didn’t know him well and saw him only two or three times a year, always at his office. This poem is after Hikmet’s Hello Everybody from Things I Didn’t Know I Loved.

brown eyes

we took the subway to meet you,
the train screeching like a warning omen,
rocketing me heart-first into destiny;
mom wore her best mended gloves,
had me in my sunday dress, hem let-down,
you came in a cashmere coat, a felt
stingy-brimmed fedora, leather gloves

there was some to-do over coffee or tea,
hot chocolate for me and a red balloon;
you examined my face, shook your head,
your brown eyes looked into mine, No!
you said, beautiful child, not mine

you turned away then, a chimera
floating down a city street …
now and again over time
you looked back; but your denial drew
life from mom, stole my red balloon,
tossed it up in your wake; i watched, daddy,
watched you with your warm cashmere coat,
your wife, two sons and those brown eyes,
they stare back at me from my mirror,
No! they say, but you were never quite sure

your mother

a tattered memoir in sepia tones
hanging on the wall of your office
a tiny plump sparrow of a woman
by a lone stone cottage
toothless, poor old thing
a warm shawl pulled to cover her head
an apron, worn shoes
from a time long past
from another world
my Turkish grandmother
what was her name?
you never said
i never asked





© 2016, poems and illustration, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved.