submissssssssion is the misssssssssssssssssion
1. Paint for me the picture.

Standing on the corner in Adana is like standing on the corner in Cuidad-Juarez. The only difference is you understand Spanish -- Turkish is something else entirely. The only sign you will understand is Zigarets above a vendor's tin shack.

2. Do you believe in what you're doing?

Men in suit jackets loiter at the worn curb. There are women in black veils and girls in blue jeans and tank tops. There are old men with cracked faces and knit caps. The air smells like oil. A fine clinging dust and gray exhaust hang over the street. You want to wipe your face. People are crossing the street regardless of traffic. A man is pushing a cart with bicycle wheels.

3. How's the traffic?

On the sidewalk is the corpse of an iron tractor, 1930s, knobby rubber wheels deflated, resting in a mess of rusted engine parts: sprockets, pulleys, cylinder heads, radiators, drive-shafts, black hoses and a metal folding chair. A wooden fence leans behind, shedding white paint. 

The buildings open to reveal a long muddy alley flanked by black doorways. The puddles are silver.

Another storefront sells stacks of used tires.

The streets are shapeless. Traffic flows wherever it will. Motorcycles and bicycles cut across the street. You emerge from a tight residential/commercial area lined by blasted-out three story buildings to a traffic circle where cars are fighting to the opposite side. A traffic light stands blinking to itself. A fountain in the middle of the circle sprays white water.

4. Do you still think it's better to change an organization from the inside than the outside?

Crossing the bridge, to the right is the mosque that rises like marble soap bubbles, dome upon dome, four slim spires forming corners. The spires are timeless except for the loudspeakers in the arched parapets. Call to Prayer floats thinly across the city but no one stops. It's like a clock ringing.

5. I'd like you to list your life goals.

The city crumbles away from the mosque. There are no unbroken buildings. It's like a city built thirty years ago and left unmaintained after earthquakes. The curbs are cracked by green grass. Men jab at asphalt with shovels. Every street is a construction job at some point.

Men in suit jackets sit in front of store facades smoking.

6. You have a family.

No one's looking. No one cares. The city is happening. Traffic has no effect on the people leaving buildings. Three kids lean over the edge of a median in the middle of the wide laneless street. Cars swerve and dart. The road signs are European. The highway signs are American green with white letters.

Mediterranean. Fourth largest city in Turkey. Kids play tag through traffic. Small white buses stop when people motion at the curb.

7. Please hold up the list and the scene side by side.

Don't forget about the trees. It's very green between the buildings, in drainage fields and empty lots. Grass jutting between bricks, through ruptures in the asphalt, in the cracks between curb and sidewalk. Thin trunked trees with long green leaves covered in dust line the streets. Lumps of grass surround the fountain in the traffic circle.

Under the main bridge the river is blue as a swimming pool.

8. Saying good-bye is standing at the bottom of a long stair, looking up to where the moment of final separation waits.

The sky is cloudless and dusty blue. People are shouting at each other without passion in their voices. It's how they talk.

9. Your son turns one year-old on Monday.

"Merhaba," a man says: Hello. Repeat it: Mearhaba. Mairhaba.

10. Honey, where are you?

"Good," he says. Very good. "Would you like some tea?"

[Forever after at


Long before he was stationed in Turkey,
Mr. Stegall once wrote a two-part 
piece about chicken. 


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