Carl Boon lives and works in Istanbul, Turkey. Recent or forthcoming poems appear in Posit, The Tulane Review, Badlands, The Blue Bonnet Review, and many other magazines.
MEANING IN MISSOURI
My happy American friends
use exclamation points
after Thank you! and
How are you?! and I wonder—
if in Missouri, for instance—
they're a therapy, a kiss
from a stranger, a way to keep
the brown wall distant.
There is a brown wall.
It sits in a cornfield
beyond Columbia, a cumbersome
thing the cows fret over, never
really get close to. Sometimes
if it storms and I-70's consumed
by hail, the brown wall
meanders a bit, inches,
and they say Hi!!
employing the double
exclamation point, more
a betrayal than a joy,
like Mark Twain calling a hand
when all he had were 7s and 9s.
But still, a happiness pretended
is better than none at all,
so they wait for the storm
to pass and the bus to St. Louis.
In Istanbul the exclamation
point's bad news, a bomb,
or someone died
on the Metrobus
unexpectedly. It's because
we're used to being deceived,
and every wall's brown,
bearing palm prints of what
we've never had.
She cuts cucumbers and tomatoes
for a salad, but she'd rather be
among grape vines, in a chair,
remembering the city, lively, large,
There was a boy who loved her,
who wore shirts with sailboats
and laughed when they kissed.
He promised her a library, a world
without discord and bombs,
and held her mother's wrist how men
in movies do. She remembers that,
at least, and the sunset
that flared across the Marmara Sea
when they were just kids
and kissed for the first time, awkward,
wondrous, and held hands as the ferry
passed from Beşiktaş to Kadıköy.
ON FALLING IN LOVE WITH A SYRIAN REFUGEE IN ISTANBUL
She held the March rain of Homs
where nothing comes easy, and many die
in the scatter of bombs. The retreats,
the piles of sand, the blocks flared.
Kitchens made quiet by it all.
When her brown eyes came to mine,
we fell to indecision. How to go, whom to ask.
She was a blaze of flesh
with unflinching eyes. The light we’d shared
was suddenly too much.