“Your poems are beautiful, but there is no emotion in them,” said the lady, who was a fan of literature. Then she leaned her head against the edge of her chair, and sighed as if she couldn’t found what she was looking for.
Those words drove me to despair. Because I’ve been writing poetry for years, and I’ve dedicated it all to her, and I haven’t been able to get her to like a single one of them. Maybe it’s because she knew that I was trying to steal her heart this way.
“Then would you let me read another one?” I said in a grieving voice.
“What is this one about?” asked the picky lady.
“It’s about the rising of the moon.”
Indeed, the moon stood among the trees at that moment as if it was caught on a branch, the evening star was waiting to be born. The Aegean Sea was asleep in front of us in the darkness. Leaves were not moving. All of this encouraged a hopeless poet like me, who thought no one was listening to him at these quiet nights.
I started reading my poem, “The Moon.”
“I kept everything I ever had to say in my heart; said it all with my eyes. For I do not know how to speak.
This love of mine, like the water never been drunk since the creation itself
So fresh, so clear…
Like a fountain, hiding within the very depths of my existence
Taking its source from my unknowns
But then sinking into its origin before presenting itself
Becoming a tear in the soul, flowing for nothing
Then running down my eyes as the heaven’s rain
May the years hurry to pass
May the fast running time, cruelly pick my flower’s leaves
May the young age be over. May the life playing its game of joy hurry for a closure.
And may this one sided love of mine
Flow among the stars like a river
Appear before you like a new moon
And when you look at it each night
May it shine its deepest secrets on you in the brightest of lights
Burn in its own fire like a jewellery hanging from the heavens
And become a second sun
When it rises dragging the whole universe behind
May everything rise alongside
And may everything set when it sets”.
I raised my eyes to meet the eyes of my merciless listener and waited for her judgement.
The lady, who was a fan of literature, stood up and ambled along the porch overlooking the garden. She looked like a spiritual being in her white dress wrapping her mature body under the light reflected from the heavens. At the time, the seaside summer house seemed to me like a ship and she like a dream that wandered on this ship’s deck, dragging it into dangerous waters.
“If the poem speaks of a whip,” she spoke with a deep voice. “The listener should be able to feel that whip. Especially if it is a woman who listens to the poem, she should moan under that invisible whip. That’s true poetry. When it talks about a whip, it makes you feel that whip on your skin. Does your poetry have that effect? I’m afraid not! Your verses are beautifully written, that’s it; but there is no emotion in them.”
Despairingly, “Is there such a poem? Is there a poem that makes what it feels like in our soul visible to the eyes?”
She looked at me proudly.
“Yes, there is.”
“Then I’d like to read it.”
“This is kind of difficult...”
“Why would it be difficult?”
“Because these poems are held in a case file in court as evidence of a crime of murder.”
I looked at her openmouthedly.
The lady, who was a fan of literature, “Moreover, you have to solve a great mystery to uncover them. So you’ll see what it means to love poetry to death. Can you do that?”
“I would do anything to please you. I’ll commit crimes if I have to,” I said.
The lady smiled, “That’s right. Stealing evidence from a murder case is a crime anyway. But I can’t find it in myself to let you go to jail for this. A judge I know can guide you,” she said.
A few days later, I met the judge that the lady had told me about. The judge, who was spending his retirement days in the same resort, was writing small stories that were inspired by the cases he had encountered, then reading them at friendly meetings. He said that he had heard but not seen the poems in the case in question. Was this a murder case? Or was it a natural death? This was the question that the court couldn’t answer. But if it was a crime, it was certain that the poems were the cause of the crime and that the muse was the instigator.
“Although the court eventually stated that the victim died by accident, this case was called the poetry murder case,” the judge continued. “Because most people say that the poems that led to the disaster were so beautiful that they worked almost like a weapon. They may have seduced the suspect into committing the crime.”
“So, had these poems been published?”
The judge said, “I suppose you wouldn’t think that the evidence of a case would be published publicly?”
“So how can I read these poems that everyone knows but no one saw,” I asked the judge.
My addressee gave me a cold look. So it turned out that the things that society talked about the most were the things that they knew about the least. Although he often spoke of these poems, he never wondered about them. Wasn’t that strange? That’s why the case, which had already been abated due to lack of grounds for legal action, was still being talked about like a myth everywhere.
“All right... I’m going to pave the way for you to meet the prosecutor of this case,” the judge said. “But I must say that this old prosecutor is now retired and is a very grumpy man because of his whiny wife. The poems are hidden in the case file in his safe. He looks like a giant waiting for his treasures. Now, you have to trick this giant into opening his secret chest and twist his arm. So if you tell him directly about the poetry murder, he’ll kick you out. I don’t know why, the guy gets so angry when he hears about poetry. Ever since that incident, he has had a great hostility towards poets. Never tell him that you are one. So, how are you going to get information on this mysterious incident? I suppose your imagination will answer that question when the moment is right.”
I came back to Istanbul a few days later. I met the prosecutor of the famous poetry murder case through the middlemen the judge at the summer house found. This prosecutor, who was in his seventies and had already retired, was well known in courts. He had the qualities that every jurist should have, such as his deep imagination and ability to make the right decision. But despite these qualities, there was something in his attitude that made me afraid of him. Could it have been because he was a pile of bones and nerves? He was always leaning forward while he was walking and his head looked as if it was going to fall in front of him, and his lifeless eyes looked like he was looking for something on the ground. His body was dried up, cheeks were shriveled, lips were sagged and eyebrows were lifted up as if they were just trapped in an angry moment. It gave him the impression of an angry person. He seemed as if he was going to burst into flames at any moment. The middlemen who introduced me to him had already warned me not to mention poems to him. A bailiff who knew him said that the prosecutor had changed so much since the case in question, that he was so much more sensitive. When he heard anything about poems or poets, he felt like someone twisted a knife in his wound. The only way I could learn about this case was if it came out on its own. The fact that the prosecutor, who seemed strong at first glance, showed such weakness was a mystery. What was about this case that drove the prosecutor crazy? Why did this great man, who was greatly respected by his young colleagues, have such a reaction to this event in his soul?
Even though the warnings about him made me nervous, the prosecutor was actually quite a cheerful man. In his own words, he had spent his life running along the court hallways like a courthouse mouse. I stopped by his office almost every day, chatting with him. The middlemen that introduced us lied to him about me being a former law student. My failure to complete the so-called law school -I was forty years old- led him to approach me with a compassionate, teacher-like attitude. It is not common for a seventy-year-old to find a young person around to listen to him, and to listen to him with respect. And he held on to me like I was a rare thing.
We became closer over time. The topics of our conversations began to go beyond the legal field and into our private lives. He supposedly got this office because he didn’t want to sit at home with his wife. He spent most of his time here, but at the end of the day he always went back home. It’s not like he was doing any work; he was just hosting his friends, accepting those who wanted to consult him, evaluating what was going on with retired colleagues. Even though he got thin on the top and was bent double as a result of years of heavy work, he was still vigorous and had the expression of a wise man who had seen a lot.
But I knew that this friendship would be through when I asked him about the poetry murder case, so I was being cautious. But it didn’t seem to come up on its own either. The conversation was just not leading there. After a while, I started to feel like I was putting up with the old man’s babbling, which even his wife could not stand. Until that day...
A group of young interns were paying their respects to the jurists who had given their years to the profession. Frankly, these visits were very reminiscent of a museum tour because of the resemblance of those jurists to historical artifacts.
I’d say our dinosaur was the star of the meeting with the young crowd that surrounded him that day. The prosecutor, ecstatic with the flatterings of the interns, stood up like a young girl chased by lovers and coquettishly showed his sycophants his family photos standing on a table. His two sons, one of whom was a doctor, married and settled abroad. His wife, who was in her sixties, was still a very beautiful woman. Although she studied law, her husband didn’t want her to work. I realized by looking at these photos that women who spend their lives sitting at home were more worn out than working women. Even though they seemed like a comfortable and happy family who had no financial difficulties in all the photographs, there was some sort of a sadness in the woman’s eyes and I could not understand why. Then, I thought there was something wrong with the prosecutor’s life.
Our retired prosecutor gave right-minded answers to all the questions.
He said he was especially interested in murder cases. But he was more interested in stories of women who killed their husbands. What was going on in the souls of murderous women was blowing his mind. He was very curious about the reasons that led them to brutally kill their husbands. He spent his legal life judging such women, finding them in the holes where they were hiding. It could even be said that these female demons filled his life. He saw them everywhere. According to him, an innocent-looking woman could easily turn into a monster. The retired prosecutor later said women knew ingenious ways to kill their husbands and put them in the grave alive. His experience, unfortunately, did not allow him to say otherwise. That’s why he wanted to see them locked in a cage. Because he had seen many women who cuckolded their husbands, destroyed them, trapped them, made murderous plans, robbed their husbands and pushed them into misery, and then married their secret lovers with the wealth they stole from them.
We’ve been listening to this conversation stone-cold. Because those were the words of a notorious misogynist. I think the prosecutor also realized that he had gone too far, and cheerfully invited us to visit his warehouse, where he kept case files, in the basement of an office blog on the same street.
We all went a few blocks away to the warehouse on the ground floor of a ruined building that looked like it was going to collapse. When the prosecutor turned on the light in a dark room resembling a dungeon, we saw shelves lined up on the walls all the way to the ceiling and worn-out files filling these shelves like prisoners. It was a shrine of a misogynist. Because these files contained stories of women who killed their husbands or ruined their lives. Our retired prosecutor obviously fed on them. These stories laid the seeds of his distrust of women, and when that distrust was about to disappear, he must have come here, looked at these files, and renewed his hostility. The interns looked around like thieves who broke into a giant’s treasure. My eyes, too, were scanning the shelves in hopes of finding the poetry murder file. Some could not overcome the desire to know the secrets that he had hidden in this forbidden temple. Then the retired prosecutor warned us all.
“Please don’t touch the files,” he said in a commanding voice. “Because these files are sorted by topic. If you pull even one of them out, you will disrupt the entire order.”
The fuss in his voice indicated that the prosecutor was very protective of these files. Maybe he didn’t want anyone to touch them. I wondered if he could now see the women who were the subject of these cases as his own women. Apparently, the old man had built himself a harem of murderous women who had killed their husbands. This warehouse was a harem room where he was with these women in his dreams. In this world of strange desires, there was room for everything. He could start a new trial to judge them, sacrifice them to his fantasies as punishment. Contrary to how harsh he was against these female demons in the hearings, he could be soft towards them here.
An intern said to the retired prosecutor, “You’ve made a collection of murderous women. It must have taken you years to collect them.”
The misogynist old man said, “Actually, it’s true. Because I’ve added other women from the court archives that I haven’t heard myself. Because I wanted them to be a complete museum of what they could do in this world.”
A female intern said, “It’s apparently not so scary if they fit in this tiny room. But a men’s museum wouldn’t fit anywhere. We should have rented at least four or five hangars.”
To change the subject, another said, “You must have encountered so many mysterious cases so far.”
The old man pulled a file from under a big pile and put it on the table.
“I think the most mysterious case is the one whose secrets remain unsolved even after the criminal has been punished, justice has been served, and the case has been closed.”
The retired prosecutor fell silent for a moment. He thought about the days when he first started the profession. He was unaware of what he would encounter. Life had many surprises for him.
The young interns were waiting with hungry ears for what the old wolf had to say.
“In this case, we know who the killer is. And why the murder was committed. But there is such an enigma in it that it is impossible to solve,” he said, pointing to the file. “It was a murder that kept the newspapers very busy at the time. There was talk of a woman who slashed her husband with an ax and tortured his body for thirty-six hours, cutting off his fingers and toes with garden scissors. The victim was a drug dealer. He secretly grew marijuana in his spacious garden surrounded by high walls, producing the drug he sold himself. Research revealed that the husband and wife were smokers themselves. The analysis found drugs in the woman’s blood. She remembered killing her husband, and she couldn’t say anything about what happened next. She had severe migraines. She said she took opium because it was good for her headaches. Even the lawyer hired by the court, because she was not able to hire a lawyer herself, asked for a reduced sentence, saying that she may have committed the murder at such a moment. But a moment of madness could not explain her torturing a corpse for thirty-six hours. The newspapers talked about her like a monster. It was revealed that the husband and wife did not get along, and the man tormented his wife. The defense claimed that the killer was acting out of a sense of revenge. But if she had, she would have acted in cold blood and not been caught. Because she had the opportunity to get rid of the body. Her husband had already built high walls around the garden so that his work would not be seen. The measures he took to hide his drug business could also have served to hide his body. But she was too crazy to think about it, or something stopped her. What caught my attention was that the woman applied torture only to her victim’s fingers and toes. Here was the knot that would solve the mystery of the murder. No one tried to untie this knot. The law only prosecuted the person who tormented the body of the person she killed for murder. To whom did it fall to illuminate the dark aspects of this case which was already closed for the police? Because it was clear that the issue that left us curious did not concern the courts.
The retired prosecutor pulled a photo from the file. This photo showed the moment the killer was caught. The whole room with her was painted in the blood of her victim. She had a stupid look on her face.
The prosecutor said, “From the photo, it can be seen that even the noise that the doors made when they broke it down could not stop the woman. Because she was trying to rip one of the dead man’s toes off at the time. So much so that when they separated her from the body, the toe remained in her hand. She was almost happy to be caught. She looked gratefully at those who came because they saved her the trouble. In fact, she was desperate when they found her. Or, let’s call it surprised, but this surprise did not come from committing murder. Because she was incapable of talking about what had stunned her. What do you think happened after the murder for her to be in such a state?”
The interns didn’t know how to respond.
The old man said, “She had covered the body with a sheet. Forensic analysis shows from the movement of the blood that the sheet was placed on the victim before he died, that is, when he was still breathing. The sheet was then untouched. Apparently, the woman couldn’t bear to look her husband in the face in his final moments. What’s remarkable in this photo is...”
The retired prosecutor pulled another photo from the file. The cloth on the body was completely covered in blood. This indicated that the ax landed repeatedly on the victim’s back. Only his hands and feet were off the sheet. Severed fingers were floating in clots.
The prosecutor continued:
“Research shows that the fingers were severed after the murder. The woman had not left the body for thirty-six hours. I guess something kept her from getting away. What was that something? That question was never answered. No one asked it either. Everyone agreed that she had lost her mind. As a matter of fact, the first thing she said after the police arrived was that she had a very bad headache. So much so that they had to give her a painkiller. That’s when they saw that she had squeezed her own finger into the scissors while cutting off the body’s fingers. She wasn’t just covered in her victim’s blood; she was also covered in her own. They healed her wounds immediately. So why did the killer do this torture that caused her to injure herself? Why did she feel the need to chop off her dead husband’s fingers? Because it was actually a difficult, laborious job that the killer did to herself, which turned her into a victim.”
The interns didn’t know what to say.
The retired prosecutor, “The woman said in her interrogations that her head was constantly aching. Her lawyer said in court records that she suffered enough to lose consciousness during migraine attacks. This pain was only going away thanks to marijuana. As a matter of fact, the cops found plenty of this plant on the table. Apparently, after she killed her husband, she sat at the table and ate some of them. After all, her victim had just prepared her food by hand. That explained the motive. Because the woman plucked and ate the marijuana that her husband had grown in the garden to sell while they were still in the branch, so she encountered her husband’s violent anger. At the time of the murder, she also asked her husband for some drugs for her headache and the other strongly refused. So she put the ax on the man’s back, ending his suffering. But she did not do anything to eliminate the body or clean up the blood on her. I repeat, husband and wife never spoke to their neighbors, they had no visitors, and they didn’t go out much. So if she wanted, she wouldn’t be caught. Because she had the opportunity to bury her husband in the garden. But then all the neighbors heard her wild screams. Her voice could be heard from beyond the neighborhood, she was screaming like a crazy person. Obviously, she had lost her mind or something had caused her to go mad. Something prevented her from getting away. What could that something be?”
The retired prosecutor again stopped and waited, but the interns had no answers to this question.
The old man laughed and said, “Here! It’s clear how much imagination is required in complex civil cases”, he continued his story:
“The forensic psychologist described the defendant’s torture of the body as revenge. This was then put in the case file as a report. The judge said that this thesis was put on the file because they could not come to any other conclusions. After all, the law considered murder to be sufficient for punishment. It was up to the poets to figure out the rest.”
A treacherous smile appeared on the old man’s lips. It was a big moment for me, who had long been waiting to hear a word from him about poetry and poets. All of a sudden, I looked at the old man’s face. And he looked back at me very darkly. He had a look on his face that I couldn’t understand. And his soul behind the mists melted in this darkness like a ghost. What was going on? Was the connection between this case and the poetry murder hidden in the old man’s strange imagination?
“I always have an answer to questions that you can’t answer,” the retired prosecutor continued, almost raising doubts.
“I am explaining this fact here for the first time. Because I couldn’t say it in front of the judge at the time. If I had, they would have kicked me out of the prosecution. Yeah, if I had, they’d rule I was crazy. But I couldn’t help thinking about it, and over time I became convinced it was true. Because if she wasn’t dreaming, she’d run away, hide the body, or go to the police. But what she saw, whatever it was, took her prisoner. Turned her to stone. A dream made her unable to move. Didn’t she already eat a lot of the marijuana after the murder? It explained her visions. Because marijuana has such side effects.”
One intern said, “Well! What could she have imagined?”
The retired prosecutor said, “To be honest, I’m not sure if it was a dream or not. It seems to me that the dead man’s nails began to grow under the sheet. Maybe it meant that even after he died, the man’s anger remained alive. The nails curled up like snakes and came quickly towards her. That’s why she cut the dead body’s fingernails, but then they grew back. She no longer was aware that it was the dead man’s fingers, not the nails she cut. To bury the body in the garden, she had to stop the nails from growing first. After all, what if his nails kept growing in his grave? What if they pierced the ground and pointed to his killer? What if he said, ‘That’s who killed me’? That’s why she couldn’t run away. Because she was doomed to do what she had to do... She returned to her agonizing job, the one that injured her. She had no choice but to be caught to escape.”
The old man stopped talking. The interns were stunned. Because in this case, the subtle distinction between imagination and reality had disappeared. As if the killer woman and the prosecutor were prisoners of the same maddening thought. Did it come from the fact that the old man was too involved with the ghosts of women who had committed crimes in this museum of the dead, most of whom were not alive, or was it the old man’s natural character?
In order to get rid of my own thoughts and a little to dispel the doubts of the interns, I declared my opinion, “We can’t say that this happened. Because we don’t know what really happened. However, our prosecutor’s comments convince us when we consider inconsistencies in the file.”
An intern asked him this time if there was an even more bizarre case he faced.
Then I couldn’t help but notice how the old man’s skeleton hands trembled with passion as he opened the cover of another file.
“In this case, it was never clear whether the woman had killed,” he said, almost stuttering.
Holding their breath, the interns looked at what had spilled over a dusty table in the flickering light of the lamp.
The old man said, “Because solving the mystery of the murder required getting into the mind of an animal. Yeah, we also had to question the animal, which was a suspected killer, to solve the murder, even though the suspect was a snake...”
Screams of amazement rose from the audience.
“What? Did you question a snake? Did you do that, too?”
The prosecutor laughed, “Although we did not take the snake into the interrogation room, we had attempted to understand his secret intentions, and the snake was present at all the hearings. There was no case against it, of course. But to illuminate the mystery of the murder, it was necessary to expose the snake. Because in this case, it worked as a weapon.”
Of course, the old monkey wasn’t telling a story. But we still listened as if he were telling a story.
Misogynist retired prosecutor,
“The accused was a woman in her thirties; she was being tried for her alleged involvement in her husband’s death, but the lawyers said there was no crime that could be attributed to her. The defense’s claim was: Yes, the poor husband was killed, but there was no murder! Because he died from a snake bite during a hunt. So the killer was an animal. But still, the victim’s wife was subjected to all the doubts. Because on that day, when those who attended the hunting party were about to find and kill the snake, the victim’s wife intervened and stopped them, asked them to forgive the snake, and even begged them not to kill it. If it was all, it would have been seen and forgotten as an overrated animal love. But it wasn’t. The woman took the criminal snake into her house, took care of it, took it with her wherever she went, never left it from her side, and even went to sleep with it. So she put the animal in the place of her dead husband, almost marrying it. Eventually, this attracted the suspicion of the victim’s relatives, and a lawsuit was filed against the woman. Some said the relatives filed this case just to deprive her of her inheritance. Because the couple never had children. Therefore, according to them, the widow did not deserve a share of the deceased’s inheritance. Moreover, some claimed to have seen the woman with the snake before the murder. Eventually, it went so far that it was even said that the woman had trained the snake. After all, isn’t this the perfect murder every killer candidate dreams of? Because the fact that she left her husband’s killer without a punishment made her look like an accomplice. Cruel comments were made on this issue. Some talked about her always looking so calm and said, ‘What makes it possible to remain innocent and commit a crime? Instead of killing their victim with a knife or a bullet, those who kill with an animal are comfortable like this. At night, they sleep peacefully away from remorse.’ Some even said she owed the snake a thank you. After all, the animal had saved her effortlessly from her husband. Such an inexpensive murder would not be so common. Some found and told more incredible stories. They claimed that the snake had been her lover for a long time. In fact, according to them, the poor husband knew everything. So a snake bite that would not be considered a crime elsewhere could have been a murder here. Because her husband had to share not only his bed but also his wife’s warmest indulgences with this snake. As a result of the constant caressing by the woman, understanding of the snake improved surprisingly. Because these caresses were not very moral. That’s exactly what led the animal to commit a crime. The snake was always ready within her arms reach, waiting for her orders, and did not leave her lap.
In fact, this mobile animal knew the woman’s body better than her husband, wandering on her curves, hugging her when she allowed it. This annoyed the unfortunate husband more than I can tell, he snapped at his wife for it and he was met with deep silence every single time. At moments like this, the snake looked at its lovely protector as if it understood everything. As a matter of fact, when they found the man dead, the police decided that based on the way he died, it could be considered murder. Because the faithful animal targeted the poor man’s you know where. The case was tried amid such great controversy. The woman brought the snake with her as a witness to the proceedings. Every time the judge pushed her, she calmly opened her bag and pulled out the snake, and put it on the table. Of course, because it was an accomplice, we allowed the snake to participate in the hearings to see the extent of its friendship with the woman. The cute animal had earned everyone’s trust in court. It followed the orders of its beautiful mistress, and it saw nothing but her. Well, that meant we wouldn’t get stung. And the smart animal was listening carefully to what was said at the trial. So even if it was convicted, it was inevitable that it would get a reduced sentence for good behavior... Fortunately, the case was inconclusive, and the incident passed on to the courthouse records as one of the oddities of the human heart.“
The interns were stunned when the retired prosecutor finished talking. Did such an event take place? Was this case really tried? Or was it all just a fantasy the old man had in his head? Everyone looked at his face looking for the answer to that question. No, he didn’t look senile at all. My opinion was that our retired prosecutor had an extreme imagination. Actually, it was good on the one hand and bad on the other. On the good side, he could find and extract details that the chain of investigations ignored from under a pile of evidence. He could ask questions that no one asked; give answers that no one gave.
As a matter of fact, didn’t he mention that you have to resort to the imagination when you come to a conclusion? But what if that imagination was sick, then what? Because it could feed unnecessary doubts. It could exaggerate the charges against the defendant and create consequences against him. I would see that I was not wrong in this idea later when I was studying the poetry murder case.
When we returned to his office, one of the interns asked the retired prosecutor, maybe to confirm his suspicions, if he had made any mistakes until that day. And he said that he may have been wrong in only one case in his history, a history he considered honorable. This was his last case before he retired. The lack of evidence did not allow the suspects to be charged. The power of analysis was insufficient. He then said this was an accident that was very similar to a murder. Maybe it was an accident that was a murder. Because in the end, the court ruled it as an accident, but he still had some doubts about it. Although he upheld the decision by not objecting it... But his instincts were disturbing him, he sometimes thought that he made the wrong decision, he couldn’t sleep at nights he kept asking himself up to that day. Was it an accident or a murder?
At first, I didn’t understand what the prosecutor was talking about. But then I had an epiphany and with the joy of it, my eyes were dazzled with happiness. Could this be the poetry murder case I’ve been patiently waiting for days?
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