Back to 2004 Ghazals
by Teresa Middleton
Candles flicker, reap abundance.
Kill a spider, and it will rain.
Ping pong balls plop into glass bowls. Gold scales
A tiger swims across a mud brown river,
Snails slide along the edge of a plastic pool.
Moths flutter around a yellow porch light.
A poet brews creativity in a thick white cup.
by Teresa Middleton
Terra cotta gypsies seek treasure vibrant orange,
Transformation shimmers like polished brass.
Split pumpkin and cantaloupe, scoop seeds with a spoon.
St. Francis leans among scrap metal and marigolds.
A spider waits among air bubbles, bits of bark and leaves.
Cigarette embers flash, roll under moving tires. Sparks scatter
A stranger gives tiger lilies to a poet with topaz eyes.
by Alison Marshall
Her honour won't let her say it, even one more time.
She is the shadow at the back of his mind.
She has paid her emotional debt and can't lose now;
Why deny the cupbearer's gift of wine? Caging the heart
Face your temptations, companions of virtue.
She's removing her veil! Will you slit your throat
Zaynab, go tell him I have bled another poem.
by Alison Marshall
Baha'u'llah, have you seen my dear one?
Perhaps the blamer came knocking at his door,
Perhaps he is too beautiful now
He rests quietly in my heart, but my mind
I'm bored with the trees, sky and sun. I want to hear
Can you see him, Lord? He is the graceful one. Tell me
Malakut is abuzz with talk of his light.
But my mind is wandering on the banks of memories,
Zaynab, the world is full of imposters;
by Tree Riesener
Even the flowers in their riot of shapes and colors will learn un-naked is now fiat,
The rose likes a gauzy little number with sequins. The zinnias go punk. Trees like the shaved
The League of Decency sells a TV Shroud--little holes cut out where heads appear
Don't be alarmed but you're all sitting there naked under your clothing, often in the company
Under their habits, nuns, pre-enshrouded, wear push-me-up bras and lace-trimmed thongs,
Nudists order biology books in plain brown wrappers, study internal organs
Tradition had terms of doubtful acceptance in Latin and Greek, for the masses,
by Tree Riesener
In the end, even clawing and screaming could not retain the net of jewels
We can fit everything into liquid, gas or ice, those universal templates,
Apostolic succession of womb to womb, preserved by Nushu speakers, moves
A slap on the cheek or honey on the tongue, choices even through the placental drip;
For lack of something moister, the unmoving desert sun sucks the sand dunes dry;
Tinted drawings of oranges, more enduring than pixels, are yet destined for landfill,
Up as down, trees strain toward one another attempting ring-world rootedness, but
Sat Oct 16 14:26:25 CDT 2004
I had intended to post this set of ghazals sooner. Unfortunately, things don't always turn out as intended. However, these six ghazals are definitely worth the wait. Both Alison Marshall and Tree Riesener's ghazals have appeared here in the past. Teresa Middleton is new to The Ghazal Page and to the ghazal. You'll find her poems rewarding, I think.
"Orange" notoriously has no full fhyme in English, There's even a comic strip named "Rhymes with Orange." Teresa Middleton found the solution to orange having no rhyme: use it as the radif in a ghazal. The result is a study in rich variations on the theme of this color, this fruit, this texture we encounter in so many places.
Even though the radif for "Overflow" is abstract (abundance), the poem is also rich with textures and color.
One of the fascinations of the ghazal is how the radif brings out shifts in the meaning of a word. A dictionary lists a set of general meanings. A word only has a specific, concrete meaning when used in a specific context. Each sher in a ghazal gives its radif a specific context. "Overflow" rings a number of changes on the abstraction abundance.
Alison Marshall's delicate ghazals are infused with spiritual and personal loss and sorrow. The rhetoric of her ghazals is more traditional than that of many ghazals in English. I hear echoes of Baha'u'llah in phrases like "companions of virtue." This echo is not imitation, I think, but the result of suffusion in a rich rhetorical world. Words may be conventional signs, but they become vehicles of feeling and depth beyond a structuralist's ken. The deep words shape and express our hearts.
"Zaynab, go tell him I have bled another poem": such a line, such an image, expresses the release and the pain of the creative process, and the intimate roots of that process.
It's possible that some of the entendres is Tree Riesener's "Thoughts on Nakedness" are triple, not just double. I especially enjoy the nudists reading biology and anatomy texts in plain brown wrappers. Many of us are uncomfortable with our skins, much less their contents. But this ghazal also raises issues of concealment, disguise, seduction, temptation, disclosure (or disclothing).
"Net of Jewels" is a rich and complex poem that I'm not prepared right now to say much about--except read and reread it. Each sher provides imaginative and cognitive challenges worth some time in thought. Or perhaps, time researching. As in, Nushu: What a google search turned up. This net of jewels seems perhaps a female rejoinder to Indra's Jewel-Net, as found in Hua-Yen (Kegon) Buddhism. That sense of interconnecting, interlinking, interchanging beings. A jewel-net of births. Of rooted entities spilling outside the templates intended to constrain them.