Back to 2004 Ghazals
by David Lunde
The CIA should not bother with code;
The butterfly's chaotic fluttering flight--
Write on its shell with alum and vinegar,
Dragons, whales, landscapes, faces--
Geometric designs inscribed on our corn--
Old photos hold dear friends' young faces,
Can we better predict the storms of our hearts,
Ah, Dave, don't struggle with words;
by David Lunde
The Milky Way swirls, a wizard's cloak of stars;
Honor that most clever, most sapient ancestor--
Babylonians connected the dots: Capricorn, Cancer & Leo,
Earthbound too long, we chafe in gravity's chains;
Stories tell of alien beings more advanced by far,
What prospects has the stellar prospector?
What will you think at the end, silly maker of poems,
by Jill Williams
He storms into class with a dream in his head.
He pictures himself on the cover, all right.
He always has fame and a scheme in his head.
He's got an untested regime in his head:
For now he'll just skim off the cream in his head
He'll float gently down, not upstream, in his head.
No fair, Teacher Jill. He's extreme in his head.
by Jill Williams
Animals used to run free on these plains.
Wing-strutting ostriches wooing a mate.
Lions no longer can be on these plains,
Weaver birds screech out a plea on these plains:
All man does leave is debris on these plains.
Park rangers pocket the fee on these plains.
Williams, there's no magic key on these plains.
by Joshua Gage
The farmer scans the horizon, asking "Will this drought cede?"
Lord, let me be a melon on your vine, green
Where are the lessons on the swell of the heart, bodies flush, and breath?
The devil tempts through the desert. Curl, untouched, like a cactus flower.
At death, scatter the Prophet across the river. Plant him deep
meme of the late twentieth and earlier twentieth centuries: code as the play of signification and interpretation, we humans' need to find pattern, meaning, in all our experiences. All things--natural, imaginary, made--are saturated with code, with meaning and, therefore, with desire.
"Of Stars" continues, really, the theme of code, directing our need for pattern up and out. (We've always had our eye on the heavens, of course.) This ghazal also embodies Lunde's commitment to science fictional poetry.
Jill Willians' "Wannabe" depicts a student whom any teacher has known. (Of course, none of us ever wore this guy's boots (sandals, Converses, whatever). Using the qafiya, -eem, in all but one line reinforces the effect of--squishiness? vagueness? pretension?--of the wannabe And please note how the maqta questions the harshness of the preceding shers: "No fair, Teacher Jill." The maqta provides the poet an opportunity to boost the poem up to another level, to interrupt the poem's vector with another direction. This doubling-back, reflexive use of the signature couplet is one of the most appealing aspects of the ghazal.
"Ghazal for a Gazelle": Don't we all live "on these plains"? Doesn't the debris come from each and all of us? Do you think the last sher's resignation speaks of despair or hope?
It's good to present another of Joshua Gage's ghazals. This one previously appeared on . The ghazal catches me right away--the radif and theme speak to my farm background. Note Gage's adroit use of different parts of speech in the qafiya: noun, preposition, verb, adjective.
Without scanning this ghazal syllable-by-syllable, I do find the line-lengths effective: flexible and precise, with clear images and no extraneous syllables.Back to the top