The Poetry Project

Four Poems

Ayaz Muratoglu

Ghazal for Awnings

Picture the olive tree in September: bleeding green,

whistling unripeness. I dream it, I count it, I return.

My grandmother will eat fish later with her best friend:

she told me so. Took a picture of the sunrise and hit return.

The city eats clouds for breakfast, then turns to grinding salt

from its far shores. It’s a new year again: the returns.

Subsuming my brother, I grow three beards a day—

scraggly hairs on my face that prickle the pillow, no hope for return.

Taste the fig: bee: skin: pop:

the fig gets under the fingers, watch the season (re)turn.

They named me recrudescence, coming raw again.

Aida in Arabic: the one who returns.

On Viewing Alex Katz at the Guggenheim, Or: Coming Back to New York from Maine

taking late this cold night I watch the fog settle over

the city and remember the ocean, where the water meets

the rocks and the eider ducks roll on the swelling waves, their

small bodies resting as the ocean crests and breaks

harsh on the shore: a summer turns to fall and the sky burns

with it: there is dust on the light fixture: on the table the child draws a person

with long arms that reach the bottom of the page,

and the child giggles and her hair ups and downs and

when she sculpts the play-doh she needs a special tray and

some of her Halloween costumes scare her. laughing with the child

lands me and is a falling apart from youth, or a

proximity to it:

joy across language,

the books ringing on the shelf

Sonnet II

after Lyn Hejinian

The girl Lila cares for ate gum off the ground in the playground

Ottoman ghazals were written from top to bottom, and by that I mean from old man lover to young boy lover

Make me cereal for breakfast

Brathwaite says the oral tradition creates a continuum of meaning between poet and audience, history unmaking its lone self

Then the angels—the illuminated letters

The bouquet you got me for my birthday wilted and now we’re left with crispy roses

When time loops, does it do so without thinking? Does it follow a set curvature?

There is no metaphor like a pile of dishes

Pain in my body like ripe figs: let me rip you let me suck you let me drizzle down your sides

May means cold in morning hot by noon freezing at night

Assonant moonlight, oh woo, oow ho

Toss the salt over your shoulder so when you tell me you’re engaged I can look you in the eye and we can laugh together about it

The man at the corner held a vanity mirror up to the sun, hellooo and hello, good morning

When I looked past your legs to the bottom of the bed all I saw was linen, no god


The child tells us that the cat has died,

says the cat will always be dead.

Later, we throw a stuffed animal

across the room. Sometimes it hits the ceiling

and then we laugh.

The cat is still dead.

For a summer, you took care of that cat—

mostly you, and then once me.

She sat with you while you wrote and read

and we fell further in love.

We swam so much.

The ocean caught us.

I am unsure if I believe that ancient Greece

was a phallocracy, ruled by the image of the erect penis.

How does time work, then? Is Thucydides writing

about dicks when he writes about war?

At Pentecost this year, I will remember it is

Pentecost and I will watch the tree

out the window and I will feast

for that is the feast holiday, no?

The piano in the next room is bouncing, breathing

up a scale. I wonder what the ballet looks like.

Next week, Will tells me it was lavish,

that the choreographer works with ghosts

and after some time in the church the piece shifted,

making room for the spirits that live here.

On Shabbat this week, I did the hand washing

so shadow, what do you say to that?

The kitchen is an archive

I came clean for you

God, have you seen this place?

The boss, like pharaoh,

so Ezekiel says,

is a sea monster.

Red mountains spell your name

but I would tie my shoes for you

#271 – Winter 2023