Sébastien Bernard

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.

 

 

Sirventes-planh

 

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

smell

a kind of thick awful

was it sulfur?—guts

the part of the brain

would command

to throw up or scream

in pain was off

no sound, I made to

pick something—myself

up

blood down

all down and bolts

not pain yet, not sharp

waking—police

they were pushing

in: why?

we were pushing out

gas—white—red

shouts—I could hear

now

held out

my other

arm, kept walking

later, past

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

that day.

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

Kobanî:

it’s a shame

how they kill us. How

my people — the Kurds —

get no break.”

 

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