Carl Boon



Our village shepherd lives

between the hills and practices

the fact of his futility against the weather.

If his smallest turns away, he neither pauses

nor seeks to protect. A lamb will be,

he says, what a lamb must be.

Each of us was born on a night

without stars, and each

through difficult labor.


I come to the stream to wash away

the remnants of the night—

some crumbs of bread, fish bones,

and molasses. My father grows hungry now

at the oddest hours; I hear his heaviness,

the rattling of tin, his breathing.

I’m convinced I can’t be whole.

The cruelty comes

here where sorrow was.


I like noon the best, the mosque wall

makes no shadow on the grass,

the women weave among the weeds

with their children and their bread.

When I was a child, my mother

brought me chewing gum

and picture books of the Prophet

at rest. She was timid, small,

and afraid of the cars.


The cars spurred the stones

against the sideroads, the sideroads

where the owlish women watered

their tea-roses and geraniums.

They made the village beautiful

for the domino-players,

the key-grinders, and the Holy Man.

But that was long ago. There’s gravel

where they used to be.


I had a bicycle the color of July.

I had a cat called İsa who watched my sister

ready herself before the mirror.

On the Holy Days he purred

as I bent with a cup of milk

and a boiled egg and lifted his paw

as if he had a place to be beyond

our little street, our little graveyard.

Carl Boon is the author of the full-length collection Places & Names: Poems (The Nasiona Press, 2019). His poems have appeared in many journals and magazines, including Prairie Schooner, Posit, and The Maine Review. He received his Ph.D. in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University in 2007, and currently lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at Dokuz Eylül University.

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