Istanbul the Grand Bizarre


Istanbul the Grand Bizarre


Istanbul is a place

For dreamers to find

Reality in a dream


The horizon is lined with

Dazzling domes and minarets

Of embedded long-standing mosques


And there are the markets

Bazaars swelling with merchants and spices

And carpets delivered in every pattern


Style and sales pitch imaginable


The whimsical things read in story books

Seen in movies

Viewed in expansive photographs

Are indeed very much there


But there is more

And I would not call it another side

Because like the multitudinous circular

Mandala designs of their ceilings

Everything in Istanbul flows in and out

Of itself

Over and over

The same as the woven

Ottoman rugs hanging in the alleys


Adjacent to the calls to prayer

Are the ploys of scam artists

As one hand delivers you

A sample of Turkish delight

Another may be exploring

Your pocket

Searching for the sensation

Of a plump leather wallet


There is an ugliness

In the city

Painted in seamlessly with

the mosaic beauty

Of the culture


But if Istanbul is located

In the cradle of the world

Where man was first born

Then it also remains

Where suckers are born

Every second


This is not a warning

Or a grim “stay of the grass “

It is the reality

That if you travel in certain parts of the world

You must be vigilant

As the tiles of the old sultan’s harem

Steal your breath

Don’t be lost in whimsy

So that your credit card is picked

In the gift shop


Every Turk is not a crook

Just as every city is not a cesspool

But it just so happens

The Turks have centuries

Of experience in hustling

Foreigners with sweet smiles

Charming stories

And expansive schemes


As experience goes

This was not my every day in Istanbul

But it was my every other day


This was the reality I encountered

Within the vision

That is Istanbul


Dreams are different for everyone

So are experiences

For those more traveled

It is the grit sometimes

The scams, the haggling,

The shiftiness where

A queer charm can be found

Like the pirate with a gold tooth and an eye patch

Something is not quite right

But we find it endearing

We observe it

We drink it up

But we are careful not to open the door

All the way

But we welcome the view

The gap reveals


Istanbul is a glistening gem

It is a colossus among great cities

It must be seen, smelled, tasted, and visited

But like an animal

Like any truly wild and massive thing

While marveled

It should be treated with respect and caution


It is a gap-toothed supermodel

It’s an anti-hero

It is the cracks in the Mona Lisa

And the adorable three-legged dog

Strange and wonderful

Peaceful and dangerous

Ancient and mercantile

It is the grand bizarre


Hall of Sultan's Harem in Istanbul
Hall of Sultan’s Harem in Istanbul








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