Cukurova Express

Cukurova Express

A few  minutes and we’re off to Ankara. Inside the Cukurova Express. We stopped at Sular Bar. I drank a couple of beers and we came to the station.

Half past seven.We’re off on time. Mussolini must be running it.

Late evening. Sliding down the track from Adana, westward, and floating up, floating up through the white rocks of the Tauros Mountain foothills through tunnels and rock cuts, the car bouncing on the springs and the wheels clanging on the rails. A gentle, sometimes more violent bouncing, rocking, clanging, gentle, going up the mountain. And other than that, all quiet. Sometimes all quiet. Sometimes the rumble of the engine. Stopping at very small villages, hamlets, slow moving, up the mountain to the snow fields, tomorrow the sun will shine. The car jumps, jerks, clanging from side to side. My friend’s soft breast against my body. We float on the clouds above the mountain, the mixed up time and places from America and Fascism to Soft Eastern Hardness, small-town Midwest and ignorance to Delhi and Punjab and Greek and Philadelphia and Arkansas memories`, Mississippi and Washington DC and New York and lonely in Norfolk and fucked up in a dozen places from Spain to Haifa and Istanbul. And how I got here and left and ended my affiliation with Red, White and Blue, which I always thought suspicious, And the train stopped, wondering at the different smug world of the West that thinks it rules the world. I thought of all the streets in cities vibrant in Adana and Diyarbakir and Ankara and Istanbul and knew the stark unknowing poverty of America.

How I came to know? Became more clear. The monster comes, it goes, it hides, it disappears, it is confused. A long trip across Kansas, all the way from California, I don’t know why, and New York and Athens in l974 and Beirut and Delhi and Punjab, Jalandhar and Simla and Sicily, Greek Beer and soufalaki and Ringo in Kalamaki and Naples. Italian pizza, nothing like the American, and Spain, Barcelona, As a sailor, and the Canaries and Palma, Majorca. And Cuban cigars. It didn’t have much to do with America to me, except for the Dicky P. I was acculturated to the Bombay wallas in Las Palmas and then San Juan. The pits in Philadelphia. Then more realization, and Tunis and Istanbul, Haifa and Jerusalem, Reggio Calabria, Liverno, Nice, Valencia and back to the New Haven in Rhode Island, Norfolk and Philadelphia, New York, Boston and finally out of the Belly, beast’s belly, to friendly Midwest and university town and Carlo Rossi wine and Pow Wow Club and Ron Burton and Bina Gupta and a friend laying me down softly and good and then trouble and California and Santa Barbara and blue skies, much work, and coming to terms, and then to Alabama and Mississippi (“Missippi”). And it all could not hang together, the Worst was the Best. Another journey through absurdity. Eating sweets in Pakistan on the Landi Kotal border. The train up the Khyber Pass and roaring down by bus past the Afghan refugees. Lahore was gearing up for Al Qaeda, but India was hanging on. It might have been a prophecy that I became exiled, written in all that and “Missippi.” North Cyprus, the land of Limbo, the Kingdom of Yok, rolling up the plateau and sometime Keysari. The old-time Ceserea of Biblical times. It was a crazy journey and worth every crooked step and I wouldn’t take back many of them. A crooked path is always the best way, might not be the shortest, but it is not the most boring, rolling on to Central Anatolia. The land dry, rugged to the cold snows, and all that time crazy about Chapatis and a hundred other different things to come to see how blond America can be and so that was a long crooked path to here. There was no way back. Nothing nicer than a good woman. The cars floated high on the rails across the mountains, snowy, rocks and pines up from the cotton plains of the Seyhan, the Ayas, to the poor, red-dirt Central Anatolian plains by Midnight, the train would be over the rim and descend, but there would be more mountains along the way to the Bready Junction called Sihhiyye, carts piled high with rolls and baked bread rings and cheese rolls and chocolate rolls. It would roll by morning. And into the old Gar Train Station with Ataturk’s car setting on the side of the track. When the train pulls into the station, a taxi will take us to the snowy hill, Cankaya.

And that scary ride from Kansas City to Las Vegas to Orange County to San Diego, as if in hand cuffs, so unlike the flight from LA to Honolulu, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Delhi, five years before, now to Central State incarceration, no less, and so less freedom, act dumb to protect one’s self from the dummies, rather crazed idiots, having their brains blown out more effectively than with a gun. The strange juxtaposition of California Freedom with military semi-slavery, the launching pad to the Mediterranean boredom and peanuts and long night watches and beer and technical manuals, unreadable and mind sweeping and rather incredible, all incredible, to think another people my enemy because they want to share the wealth, have ideas about socialism or communism, maybe because they would clamp the state, any state, on me, but Not really credible to the thinking person, and so the key. Don’t think, just do it and hope for the best. Avoid the Fascism. That was almost a year. And then out to Greece, making the best of it. And never really feeling a part of it, and so having considerable distance from it. Don’t try to chump me. The TWA to Athens was quick, overnight in l974. But I was straight on to Lebanon, Beirut and Delhi, that night, by next morning. And up all day to get the train to Punjab. I don’t know why. Just a little crazy. Still, the dreams come of sailing in weird places on a Navy destroyer. Flash backs and the imprisoned feelings.

Morning. Passed through Elma Dag, less than an hour to Ankara. Villages, white roofs and white rolling hills and steeper hills and tall leafless Poplars and green pins and gray skies. Half way up and then blue and the sun coming on the fields as the powder snow blows, stirred up by the slow moving train. And the roofs are all white, showing it is cold, when the train stops, some light flakes of snow drifting down. Ankara, thirty kilometers. A stream running through leafless trees. More Poplars, Pines on the hillsides, and dry corn stalks and pole bean sticks, with dry vines of beans. Small brick buildings and petrol stations along the main road. Marsh plants, brown dry, carried along swiftly into the urban melange, as if in a maelstrom that cannot be broken out of, as if destiny, more gecekondu-style houses and small fields, snow covered roads, outskirts of Ankara. Gecekondus up the entire hillside. It is Kayas. The local commuter train to Sihhiye. Ankara, a city flooded with peasants.