Four Poems

translated by Derick Mattern
Looking down on a table that has two pomegranates on it, one cut, one uncut, with the knife that opened the one up laying beside it.
photo: nathalie jolie/unsplash

Two Small Pomegranates

If you want a garden to grow look
inside a pomegranate look long look deep
at the core there’s a school and a blue girl
they’re a garden but also a park
if you want to wander the heart
leave it in a pomegranate


“We’re here to figure out . . .”

out on the street I found a letter
there was no envelope
nothing written inside
like a Qalandar dervish it kept hidden
its form lost its designation gone
the script that gave it life worn from its skin
or maybe it’s a Hurufi letter
its writing secret its letter on the way
as though the envelope enveloped the whole world

[The title of this poem is taken from a line of Ahmed Arif’s poem “Karanfil Sokağı”: “We’re here to figure out each and every thing.” Qalandar and Hurufi are different Sufi orders.]


Blue above Black

let’s talk blue let’s write blue
as letters go in an envelope: blue
as a word leaves the mouth: blue
a path between two partings: blue
eye comes to eye: blue: a closeness of boy-and-girl
a blue moment like time inside lights
let’s not forget blue let’s leave black out of it
blue: let it be the longest poem not forgotten



Maybe the only real letters are still in the envelope: 
the postmark undisclosed the inside unknown
maybe the words only come when it’s opened
maybe letters are sacred only so long as they’re

From Zarf / Envelope (2010)

Translations from the Turkish
By Derick Mattern

Haydar Ergülen (b. 1956) is one of the most prominent poets writing in Turkey today. Author of more than a dozen books of poetry and another dozen of essays, his work is only beginning to appear in English. His most recent book is Öyle Küçük Şeyler (Kırmızı Kedi, 2016). He lives in Istanbul.

Derick Mattern is a poet and translator living in Iowa City. A former BCLT mentee, he is now an Iowa Arts Fellow and 2018 NEA Literary Translation Fellow at the Iowa Translation Workshop.