The Founder Effect – no. 8


In three hundred forty five words I will be hated. In one hundred nine sentences I will become a criminal. In fifty five paragraphs I will fall in love.

Minutes, hours, days. I have run out of food and tobacco.

The moment I close the door to my flat, my next-door neighbor appears, as if she had been waiting. She is ruddy and blonde and hefty and wears a ponytail and an apron with a frilly trim and I dislike her.

Wat het jy gedoen? she calls to me, holding a rolling pin, a fatfold in her wrist, all of her but one of her feet visible in the threshold of no. 8.


Wat het jy gedoen? she barks again. Wat is al wat skree? Is daar iemand wat bly met jou?

I turn the key in the lock and respond, Ah, the noise. Yes indeed I do have someone staying with me.


Half facing away, I answer, Her name is Electra.

She pats the rolling pin like a billy club. ‘N vriendin?

Girlfriend? Of a kind, I suppose.

She points the rolling pin at my chest. Is sy nou hier woon? Is dit hoekom jy die hondjie?


I reply, Yes, she does live here now, but the puppy came first. She did not make me get a puppy; she does not make me do anything. What she does do is make a lot of noise. A fact, really. I hope it’s not something you can’t live with.

She punches the rolling pin above her head like the hammer of Thor. Sy is te hard! Sê vir haar om stil te bly! Ek kan nie slaap nie! Ons kan nie dink! Jy vertel haar dat!

At this, I take my hand from my pocket and hold it out to her, twisting my wrist, fanning open my fingers, telling her, Electra can be as loud as she wants, and if you want to keep that stick of yours you’ll go back inside and mind your own business, Mrs. Boerenpummel.

(Boerenpummel, n., yokel. Afrikaans, from Dutch, boer ‘farmer’ and pummel ‘boor.’)

Her eyes nearly cross. Whoa! she whispers before slamming shut the door.

I leave. I travel, and considering this exchange, I wonder if I just did right by the rules of the Enchiridion.

I place peaches, bread, and milk into my basket to make pudding for dinner. Pistachios for Electra.

Está a xogar? the butcher asks.

No I’m not kidding.

Moe-lo? O bisté?

Yes, just put it through the grinder.

Cinco quilos de file mignon?

Yes. Has no one ever asked you to make dog food before?

As far as days go, even those of these bones, this one is trying. I fit my groceries in my knapsack with just enough room for a carton of cigarettes, and while I am eager to get back to avoiding people by returning home to keep company with Eve and Electra, I get a second thought.

I leave the grocery and turn, not the way I came.

I slip my cigarette butt into the receptacle before the glass doors open.

There’s something different about the pet shop. Changes have been made, little ones, touches. It seems a bit darker. A bit more crowded.

Then I notice a new banner hanging from the rafters. There’s a new standing display, too. ‘Free Neuterings.’

The Frenchman launches himself from an opening with saloon doors. He makes a grandiose gesture, as if releasing a dove into the air. Bonjour, bonjour, bonjour! Il est là! Ah, il est si bon de vous revoir, monsieur.

Oh. Yes, and you as well.

He practically reaches into my pocket to shake hands. Vous êtes de retour si tôt. Vous devez vraiment aimer ici, hein…?

I wouldn’t say I love it here, but I’m very happy with the puppy and the parrot.

L’oiseau? C’est bon?

Fantastic. Her name is Electra now.

Incroyable. The Frenchman drops his hands and poses like the Virgin Mary. Mais nous ne visons à satisfaire.

The girl enters from a side aisle. Buenos días señor.

The Frenchman flicks the air. Zou! Pas maintenant.

She shrinks away. My eyes follow.

The Frenchman puts his arm in mine, turns me, walks me, takes a secretive tone. His cheek is close to mine, as if his whispers issue from his ear. En tant que client particulier, vous devriez savoir que mes services peuvent être très vaste.

‘Extensive services.’ I grow nervous.

The Frenchman reaches his free hand in front of us and pans it patiently, dreamily, as one would if unveiling the horizon. Il ya des animaux de tous les coins du monde, belles, exotiques, et je peux vous les fournir si vous voulez. Tout animal à tous.

Looking down, I notice the limp, vague spirit of a goose step in his gait. He is talking business and it possesses his body, crown to toe.

I look up and see the girl down a different aisle. She is lingering, eavesdropping, doing a poor job of seeming busy. The Frenchman does not notice her. She twists some cans to make the labels face out.

I ask, Any animal at all?

He grins like a toad. Mais bien sûr.

I let myself fall into his trap. I ask, Even ones, shall we say, supremely challenging to obtain?

His head almost slides off his neck. Monsieur, le plus difficile la tâche, plus je suis ici pour vous servir.

The more I speak, the more I understand him. I grasp where this is going.

I slide my hand inside his vest, tuck a wad of bills into his pocket, and pat him on the chest.

I say, Surprise me. Impress me.

He lets go, faces me like a soldier at attention. Ce sera mon devoir.

I glance at the girl. She walks away, dragging her fingertips along the shelf, fighting the need to look me in the eyes, I am certain of it.

I say, Thank you. I’m sure that it will.


The Founder Effect – no. 7


In the morning I awaken, face down, bent kneed, open mouthed, fully clothed, with each of my fingers wedged stuck in the neck of an empty bottle of beer. Electra insisted on celebrating and coaxed me into the lion’s share. I do not remember how it ended.

I kick off my boots one after the other and try to rub my face but the bottles tinkle and clack and alarm me.

Raat! “…Warriorrrrrs! Come out to pla-ayyyy!”

Eve slinks over to inspect the scent of my boots. Her balance has improved, grown into positive gracefulness.

I have to squeeze like vices both armpits to pluck the spent twelve-pack off my hands. Electra mimics each windy pop.

The desk in my bedroom is that of an architect, wide, minimal, clean lines, of manmade material. The shelves in the wall are wood painted white. Books have spilled off of them onto the desk, a single thought having yanked each volume from its perch into a pile or a space of its own, and the books have papers tucked into them, some messily so, signs of having been used. Books scattered, referenced, some even on the floor. There are pens and pencils dropped on the desk mid-idea and ashtrays full with crushed filters and soot. Continue reading “The Founder Effect – no. 7”

7 Dalga: The Song of the Sky: When Freedom Barges In (Part 1)

And the Sun told us, my kin…

It is You. She said

I have thought long and hard, she continued

I have searched the world over

I have watched my brother in the darkest night

And it is YOU

Us? We asked, aghast

How is this possible?

How can we hurt each other so?

It must not be…

It cannot be


It is You, she said sadly

Not all of you

But those who hurt you are part of You

They walk among You

Do not look to the skies

Do not search the stars

Do not blame Rain, Thunder and Snow

Blame only


Only you can stop this


Sanem Özdural

7 Dalga: The Song of the Sky: Shards of Ice

It rained needles of ice, my kin, tipped with tears from our Golden One’s eyes…

Stop! We cried.

Please. Stop.

You are our Sun, our Golden One

You are our one and only one

We look to you daily

All night we long for your arrival

Please stop!

As we look for your warmth

We are blinded by shards of ice!

And we cry: how can you do this to us?


I cannot! She sobbed

My greatest wish is to stop…

And she wept never-ending rivers of gold that fueled scalding quills of ice


Sanem Özdural

The Founder Effect – no. 6


I need to clear my mind. The Amazon is exhausting. It’s like talking with a computer. It perceives my every utterance as a thrust it needs to parry.

But more and more I get a feel for it. The glances of my blows give it shape, relief. I can feel its force there behind the words, the direction it’s coming from. The angles of deflection are telling. Like chipping away at a block of marble.

But who am I to judge? After all, isn’t that the extent language affords? Are any of us more than merely the words issued forth on our behalf? Is there really a there there? Beyond words? Is not being conjured through words? And is not every word of our being an approximation, an approach to the limit, of who we are and not the exact definition, floating and bobbing, never quite one with the current? Perhaps this is the quantum physics of language. That all we are are the traces we leave.

And if genius is measured by the width of our analogies, the Amazon certainly qualifies. It rants constantly, pausing only to eat and drink, a living almanac of irony. Continue reading “The Founder Effect – no. 6”

7 Dalga: The Song of the Sky: The Constellations

And the Sun looked to her own, my kin,
and saw that they were the worst offenders

This is Shame! She cried

And her rage flared hot white across the blackened Sky


I cannot believe it of you, Altair…

Burning so strong, so bright

Is it fair?

Is it right?

Your rays so deadly and unseen in the Night…

You know it is not right

For one such as you to act as you do…

You do it, too… They said

And they were right.

And the Sun lowered herself, and allowed her brother to cloak her from prying eyes.

You cannot hide… They said.

Not one of us can hide… She sighed.


Sanem Özdural

7 Dalga: The Song of the Sky: The Sun

And the Sun, our golden one, was distraught, my kin

How is this possible? She cried

As her tears fell in hot flashes across the desert sky…

And it was all desert; and the desert was all

Even my brother is complicit! She moaned

As the Moon glowed pale and cold in the desert sky

And it was all desert; and the desert was all

She looked in vain to the winds:




and West

As they howled hoarsely across the desert plains

Do not bend! The Sun admonished Rain, Thunder and Lightning

Do not lend your might!

You know it is not right…

But they had no choice: they had to weave and strike

To be pawns in a never-ending fight

It will be desert! She cried

It will all be desert; and the desert will be all


Sanem Özdural

7 Dalga: The Light…

The White

Purified and cleansed

In a fire so bright

It glows White

The White…

Torn apart, subdued

Laid waste, deserted…

Bathed in Light so bright

It glows White

The White

With eyes unseeing

And ears ringing!

Lungs on fire…

And the air…

It glows White

The White

Bent and hobbled

With teeth bleeding

Under the surgeon’s knife

And the Light…

It glows White

The White

No more!


Sanem Özdural

7 Dalga: Chakras

Tell us, friend. Tell us: what is the first?
The first wave…

It is the worst, the first.

It is the crown that bursts; the royal teeth

That do their worst.

The purple wreath

of death

Is the first


Tell us…friend
We have to know
The second to the worst
Or is it?

The second is Loss

Loss of time

Loss of self

Loss of all that once was…

Lost in a wave as blue as the midnight sky


We grow sad…And yet, we Must know!
Even the worst we must know
Tell us…
The third

I cannot breathe!

Air. Please, give me air!

The third wave envelopes me and I am lifted high

Higher into the sky

The bright blue sky

So high

Too high!

I cannot breathe…


Tell us, friend!
Quickly, tell us the fourth!
Before you are out of breath…

It breaks my heart, this wave

This fourth wave

Of mourning.

Shrouded in green

Under the crescent moon…


Our pain is great!
And yet… we must know
The rest

A punch to the gut!

A ram with yellow teeth

Is the fifth…

Foul and filthy

The rotten seed


Friend…It is almost done
Tell us,
Tell us now!
The sixth…

Have you no shame?

The name…

I cannot name

All of the Six!

I am wracked

And broken

By the Six


Fear not, friend!
We are here; we are near…
You will never be wracked and broken
by the Six!
Tell us, friend…
The last
But not least…


Is the number of the Beast.

Red is the color of the last

Red is the color of the Beast…


Sanem Özdural

Gelecek Bir Seçimdir – The Future is Choice


Turkish | English

Gelecek Bir Seçimdir

Bir dörtyol ağzındasın. Dört seçenek var önünde.
İlki seni buraya getiren yol.
O yolu seçip geldiğin yere dönmeye çalışabilirsin.
Bu kavşakta kural yok. Ne işaret ne de kılavuz bulabilirsin bu kavşakta.
Sana ne yapmanı, hangi yolu seçmeni söyleyecek kimse yok burada…
Seni buraya getiren yolu düşün. Sola döndüğün zaman o yolu hatırla.
Burada her şey farklıdır. Belki yolun kıyısı ağaçlarla süslüdür, geldiğin yolun çıplaklığına kıyasla…
Belki sadece sen biliyorsun bu yolun neye benzediğini.
Belki biri – arkadaşın, sevgilin olabilir – bu yolda senden önce yürüdü.
Belki şimdi orada. Bu yolu onun yolu olarak tanıyorsun.
Senin de yolun olacak mı? Belki. Sade sen biliyorsun.
Arkandaki ve solundaki yolları hatırla önündeki yeni yola bakarken.
İleriye bakarken hatırla. Şeffaf bir pencere camından bakar gibi.
Arkanda ne varsa, önündeki yolda da hemen hemen aynılarını görebiliyorsun.
Ama sen bu yoldaki çukurları ve tümsekleri biliyorsun. Değil mi?
Yolun sonunu görüyor musun? Ne kadar uzağı görebildiğini sade sen biliyorsun…
Şimdi dön ve sağına bak…
Göremiyor musun? Doğru, çünkü bu yol ilerideki yol gibi şeffaf değil.
Donuk bir pencere camından bakar gibi… Gözlerini kapat.
Yolunu bulmakta yardımcı olamaz zaten gözlerin.
Ama bu yolun haritası var sende. Hayır, cebinde değil. Oraya bakma. Hiç bakma.
Şimdi görebiliyor musun? Düşündüğünden daha parlak, değil mi?
Bir taslak gibi, ama buna rağmen sağlam ve dayanıklıdır.
Evet, öbür yolların hatıralarını bulabilirsin bu haritada.
Arkandaki, önündeki ve solundaki yolların hepsinin anıları burada.
Ama ne arkan ne önün ne de solundur bu güzergâh.
Korkuyor musun?
Eğer yardımcı olacaksa, şunu bil ki başkaları da bu yolda yürüdü. Şimdi oradalar.
İnanır mısın, onların haritaları seninkine çok benziyor…
Güneşin, gözle görünmeyen bir yere dövmelenmiş gölgesi gibi.
Onlar da senin gibi gözleri kapalı yürüyorlar bu yolda ara sıra sendeleyerek…
Sana bağlı. Bu kavşakta kural yok. Kılavuz da yok.
Gitmen gereken yolu gösterecek kimse yok…


Turkish | English

The Future is Choice

You are at a crossroads. There are four paths before you.
The first is the one that brought you here.
You may try to go back if you wish.
There are no rules at this crossroads. There are no signs, no guideposts.
There is no one here to tell you where you should go, what you should do…
Think about the road behind you. Remember it as you turn to your left.
Whatever the road behind you is like, this one is different.
Perhaps it is lined with trees, while the other lay bare upon a flat landscape.
Perhaps. Only you know.
Someone – perhaps a friend, a lover – has already taken the road to the left.
Perhaps he or she is there now.
You think of the road to your left as their road. Will it be your road?
Perhaps. Only you know.
Remember the road behind you and the road to your left as you look ahead.
It is like looking through a pane of clear glass.
Whatever lay behind you, you can see that it lies ahead, too.
But you know the potholes and the crags in the road that lies before you. Don’t you?
Can you see the end of the road?
Only you know how far you can see…
Now, turn to your right.
You cannot see? No, that is true, for this road is not clear like the road ahead.
Close your eyes.
Your eyes cannot help you find your way on this road.
But you have a map of this road. No, it is not in your pocket. Do not look there.
Do not look.
Can you see it now?
It is brighter than you thought, isn’t it? It is an outline, but solid for all that.
Yes, you can find reminders of all the other roads on this map.
But this road is not the road behind you, the one to your left, or the one dead ahead.
Are you afraid?
If it’s any help, I can tell you that others have taken this road. They are there now.
Would you believe it, their maps look a lot like yours… tattooed somewhere the eye cannot see,
like the burning shadow of the Sun.
They, too, travel with their eyes closed – at times stumbling…
It is up to you.
There are no rules at this crossroads. There are no signs, no guideposts.
There is no one here to tell you where you should go…

Sanem Özdural