Dancing shaman with a kingfisher's head.
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2004 Ghazals, Set Three

All Praise (after Ghalib)

by William Dennis
This stony land of sweet wells is love of the Beloved;
But for beauty's need to see, we could not have eyes.

Larks or locusts or singing sand fill each place's moments:
Stunned wonder and insight glance the same back from a mirror.

Knowledge knows not what it claims, worship is a hopeless faith;
Shaking out napkins, servants cast world and the faith away.

His very foot-prints have volition to reveal themselves:
Dusty fiduciaries for the union of two worlds.

His name on a stone centers creation over the earth,
Bending the sky down forever in every direction.

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Becoming in Black (after Ghalib)

by William Dennis
Hard men live easy, it's true, and, yes, easy men live hard.
Only man . . . even woman . . . tries and fails to be humane.

What mad-moon gravity sets me full in that direction
Daily, by choice and aware, startled when she's still not there?

Her face would coax vision out of the most reluctant eye;
Even her green-backed mirror wants to see what it reflects.

My wound waits in the grave, while I mourn the death of all joy;
Glancing up, my tears embellish an orchard from your face.

She swears this binding oath: not to torment my remains more;
One so becoming in black is quick to don mourning.

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" . . . talking to women"

by JBMulligan
It is happily tiring, when you stand talking to women.
You're not quite sure if what you said was planned, talking to women.

You will have to pardon me if I can make no sense at all,
I have spent my life not talking to and talking to women.

There is so much you can learn from a butterfly or mountain;
You might find enough there to lend a hand talking to women.

When I've had too much or not enough to drink, I think clearly--
or as clearly as in that foreign land: talking to women.

In golf, at least you can take a mulligan, and try again.
Here, play an honest lie - you'll understand talking to women.

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A ghazal about you

by Bruce Thompson
I rise at night, roused by a dream about you,
and raise my pen to write this poem about you.

In the quaint shop where we buy Christmas gifts,
lavender and cinnamon team about you.

You come naked from your bath, rose-petal pink,
wearing an incandescent gleam about you.

In a Wyoming grotto, after a sudden rain,
the rivulets of water stream about you.

You are no goddess; but the flowers do not know:
in guarded whispers they blaspheme about you.

Movie stars are mere approximations;
Glenn Close and Carri Nye seem . . . about you.

This logician feel incomplete without you,
so, as poet, dwells upon this theme: about you.

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Twixt Fact and Fancy

by R. L. Kennedy
Factions war twixt fact and fancy.
Fallacies soar twixt fact and fancy.

Faith's rapport will one's life renew.
Fads explore twixt fact and fancy.

Failure's sores run with no adieu.
Fame opens doors twixt fact and fancy.

Falcons ignore what they cannot chew.
Fairies snore twixt fact and fancy.

Fakirs adore god's most sacred clue.
Fanatics abhor twixt fact and fancy.

Falls may roar but drop straight and true.
Fanfares score twixt fact and fancy.

Famine's corps' fill the dead men's queue.
Fair boats oar twixt fact and fancy.

Facts are whores to ill points of view.
Familiar shores twixt fact and fancy.

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Sigil on marble.


Editor's Comments


William Dennis gives us two more of his versions of Ghalib. The intimate union of sexual and divine love shines in these versions. Perhaps Bruce Thompson will forgive my suggesting that his ghazal be read--as an experiment--as a love-hymn to the Divine. The fifth sher doesn't sit well with such a reading; the others (to my ear) do. However, the third sher, alluding to the birth of Venus, does construe the "you" of the poem as a goddess, whereas subsequent shers seem to suggest her superiority to goddesses such as the actresses mentioned. And the makhta closes the poem with a romantic/mystical assertion of the incompleteness of logic without love.

"Becoming in Black" verges almost into la belle dame sans merci territory--the hungry goddess of whom Robert Graves and Robert Bly wrote. "All Praise" ends with the divine name bending the sky; this ghazal takes directions set by gravity, wounds, and the grave. Instead of "his name on a stone," here creation is centered by feminine beauty that coaxes and torments the male eye.

JBMulligan's " . . . talking to women" provides a different perspective on the male relationship to the female. While this ghazal lacks mysticism, I'm happy to present this ghazal on the male's bemused fascination with the feminine Other. What else do we have in Ghalib as presented by Bill Dennis or in Bruce Thompson's lovely poem to his wife than a sense of awe and delight in the Different, whether divine or human, god, goddess, or woman?

How appropriate, then, to end with a brief comment on the binary oppositions in Bob Kennedy's "Twixt Fact and Fancy." It's a commonplace in poetics that English is rhyme-poor compared with some other languages. Perhaps so. But this ghazal is rhyme-rich, and the intense repetitions of the qafiya underscore the wit in the contrasts in each line and sher.

These five ghazals display a marvelous range of tonality. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

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