Abi by Küçük İskender


1. Abi – (aah-bee) The word used to address an older man, meaning ‘big brother’

2. Basket on a rope – in some Turkish apartment blocks they send a basket down on a rope to the porter at the bottom with a list and money in it for him to pop to the corner shop and buy a few essentials. The basket is then hauled back up to the person’s balcony.

3. Grapes is also slang for depression medication in small gelatin capsules.


You know Abi, we were something we were.

You were the first to show me I had hairs round the back.

I’m not lying, honestly, I really loved you.

You were my picture-postcard; I told all my friends about you.

If a strange mood descended on the city

I’d lean out of the window to be in your world.

My dad would shout, “Stop leaning out like a basket on a rope..!”

You’d go down with the setting sun Abi, to your flat was across the way.

Every night it sank, that opposite block.

The building burrowing, slowly in the ground; I’d feel let down

Because my mom just cut watermelon, summer and winter.

Dad nagged for yellow melon, summer and winter.

I liked grapes.

I used to see from the window Abi, you ate grapes, Summer and Winter.

You’d cry, eat a grape.

Cry, eat a grape.

Like a sparrow that’s swallowed an emerald and whose belly’s in pain.

Like a sparrow whose wings have been clipped.

On that basement level, that nest of devils

you didn’t look like a sparrow. Holes in your arms.

Coca Cola flowed from the holes in your arms. Pepsi spraying out.

They’re all connected.

I couldn’t watch you a lot, Abi

My dad would blow his top.

Dad was a nationalist, he’d get angry at getting angry.

He beat my mum in all the right places.

You know Abi, we were something we were.

You never knew me at all.

That girl who came to you at nights never knew me.

The sex you had with her didn’t know about me.

Your drapes were open.

Your arguments with her didn’t know me.

My folks were asleep. I’d gone down to the street.

The knife you stabbed her with didn’t recognise me.

Your drapes were open.

It was shadowy inside.

Your silently carrying her out didn’t know about me.

We met at the street door, in a moment… the three of us…

one of us lifeless…

I took the girl by the legs, to help.

We put her in the trunk.

You had a car.

Cars are cool, If their licence plates have meaning,


MT: the Matrix, my favourite film.


FK: Franz Kafka, my favourite maths equation


KC: Kurt Cobain, my favourite natural disaster.

Your car had no plate Abi.

We didn’t say a word all the way.

But I’d already faced the fact that

I’d never speak with you for a lifetime.

I sat in the front, by you.

You didn’t take your eyes off the road, Abi.

It’s good to respect the rules of the road.

Morning was coming when we reached the beach.

Three or four sea birds hung in the sky, watching us.

We took out the corpse and threw it in the sea.

Water, swallowed.

Water swallows everything”, you said.

I’m gonna throw my report card in the sea too”, I said.

You smiled.

You leaned on the car and lit a cigarette.

You passed it to me.

As you fitted the second one to your lips you asked,

What year are you in?’

High school, Year One. I’m always gonna be in Year One”

You took a deep drag on the cigarette you’d lit

Half the oxygen in the atmosphere filled your lungs with that smoke.

Thanks for your help”, you said.

It’s me that wanted to”, I said.

You weakened and looked me up and down.

First time.

Now you know everything”, you said.

I don’t know anything, I only saw”, I said, carefully.

True”, you murmered.

Now what you gonna do?”

I’m going to take you back.”, you said, ‘Just imagine that, some time ago I

I took you from somewhere and put you with your mum and dad.

And now I’m going to take you back.

Sure,” I said, “Of course I’ll come”.

Well done” you said, “Seems you’re a good kid.”

You took a few packets of tablets from your pocket.

Take these. Go and swallow them all down with sea water. Go on!”

There weren’t many tablets.

Around thirty.

I came back to your side from the shore.

Get in the car. In the back. Lie down”,

I did.

You got behind the wheel, Abi.

The inside of the car was navy blue.

You turned the key.

We got up speed.

The place we’re going to is both far away and close. Try to sleep.”

Okay”, I said.

I closed my eyes.

My mouth went dry.

My body went light.

Dad used to say, “don’t lean out like a basket on a rope”.

The rope snapped.

The rope snapped.

The basket hit the floor and the grapes exploded with a deafening crash.

Poem:  küçük İskender

translator Caroline Stockford

publisher  SEL Yayıncılık

First publıshed ın Assaracus Journal of Gay Poetry, Feb 2016


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