Poetry by Carl Boon
By Carl Boon
Any Serbian Town
Near a cathedral shot
with eastern light,
a girl on cobblestone
looks for a match. We are
anywhere but we are
specific and dark now,
watching her as she licks
the cigarette she’s rolled,
waiting for you,
and a shortcut to the bridge
and over the bridge
to a kitchen where her mother
on green felt, a chipped table,
a kettle no one’s touched
since 1993. Moving
through ghosts means
one must be light, lost
to St. Luke, snipping threads
that no longer have use:
apron memories, sweets slyly
taken as we move toward
Then your mother’s fear
that came on Sundays came
in four dark suits, a splash
of red at the neck of each.
You studied the men
and looked at your bicycle
in the corner of the room—
you looked at your mother
who should’ve told you
the world is doors
and strangers and mean,
a revolving and you crying
for your American toys
in a blue dumpster now,
your sister’s face
in a thundercloud. Anita,
go on: we shall find you
in some memory worthy
of ourselves, your bicycle,
your Barbies, your veins
crossed with Bosnian blood.
Go on: we shall be waiting
in our private centuries
for you to come back.
A toddler wails on the street and wails
louder when his mother calls
from the sixth-floor balcony,
a mud-colored scarf on her head,
a cup of coffee spiked with whiskey
set behind the sack of rice, the sack
of buckwheat, the sack of newspapers.
Nobody leaves me alone, she says.
I want to be left alone, she says,
picking sesame seeds one by one
from the tablecloth. Breakfast had been
a disaster again—the aunt’s man-
turmoil, the toddler painting his face
with egg-yolks. Even the daughter
erupted with news: there’s blood,
that means I can have a baby, too!
The mother in a fury harbored
by years of breakfast disasters
had thrown them all out, and a jar
of olive paste, too: why can’t we be
normal? she asks. Why can’t we be
orderly and nice?
For the sake of Allah Derya pours milk
on Corn Flakes and they eat it. I’m cursed,
but being cursed is just a bit of smoke,
a stalled bus, a husband with a gun.
So she goes down to Umut’s Bodega
to buy a beer and a bag of Doritos
and doesn’t care when a Dorito falls
and doesn’t care when the bottle makes
a ring of beer on the counter.
It will be licked, eventually, it will be
a thing for them to see that I was here
and let it go, go past their stupid
and flagrant and imperturbable bodies.
Carl Boon lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at 9 Eylül University. His poems have appeared in many magazines, including Posit, The Maine Review, and Diagram. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Boon recently edited a volume on the sublime in American cultural studies.