Sébastien Bernard is a poet and fiction writer currently living in New York. He completed his MFA at The New School with a Citation of Excellence in Poetry. Originally from Turkey and France, he has also lived in Maputo, Mozambique, where he taught English in the summer of 2014. An excerpt from his novel, The Doldrums, is forthcoming in The Evergreen Review.
They’d gaslit the ether
there was nowhere to go.
The only surprise
a handful of forget-me-nots
by the door, simpering, asking
what is the way, where, why, and how
into the mosque at midnight, down
the bedroom at dawn, looking the people
in their eyes with a flashlight.
Nothing remains of the tissue
but cast; aboriginal gauze.
To gaslight: manipulate
(someone) by psychological means
into questioning their own sanity.
The women came and went
talking of suicide and handrails . . .
Nothing remains of the right
kind of touch: Where have you been
my hazel-eyed son? Burning the blue-
eyed doctor, Father. The light
in the attic of our proxy Mosul
stomping the seeds
of the logic of a new day —
Voices of my homeland
October 10, 2015, Ankara Central Railway Station: Selim
“Another blast, a sudden could not
feel a thing but could
a kind of thick awful
was it sulfur?—guts
the part of the brain
to throw up or scream
in pain was off
no sound, I made to
all down and bolts
not pain yet, not sharp
they were pushing
we were pushing out
shouts—I could hear
arm, kept walking
the hospital reflection, my face—”
October 13, 2015, Taksim Square, Fet:
“By pure luck I was not
there and someone had to have filled my seat
on the bus, because it was packed
I remember exactly where I was
when I heard what happened.
I can’t walk past the deli on İstiklal
without feeling shot in the stomach.
The same day we all gathered
in Taksim Square, crying and shouting
so loud I was beside myself
or outside, like some German or American
philosopher says: don’t they
have ideas and bombs for everything?
There were police, too, that day, afraid
to do anything to us
ten thousand holding banners
<< We Know Who Murders >>
but who has eyes in them, in this country?
Look me in the eye and tell me
who’s dog you are.
The same day I met Meryem
her first son was shot dead
by ISIL, while protecting
it’s a shame
how they kill us. How
my people — the Kurds —
get no break.”