Back to 2005 Ghazals
by Rachel RawlingsAt night I'm dancing at the ball of cards,
spinning in a silly folderol of cards.
With you asleep my eyes glow in the darkness,
In darkness I can hear you stir and grumble.
Lately it's true I've been building a temple,
I know you know that I am not your mother,
You hear my end before I start to mumble,
The little screen goes dark, my fingers pull back.
|This "demi-ghazal" appeared in the record of the annual City College of New York poetry festival, but has not been truly published before now. [Author's note]||
by Rachel Rawlings
My eyes entombed with sleep, I need some coffee.
She takes the can out of the freezer and the water from the tap.
A bag of beans, organic but uncertain.
The line's too long; I take the train. No cup in hand, I read.
This runs in my family. From a Chinese banquet hall on his daughter's first
Summer's coming. When it ends, I will have ridden in its heat
shaded skin (albeit three parts milk to two with some red syrup).
eggs, bananas, meat. Along the hills of Brooklyn, dodging dogs
The Germans say "Not addict. Morphine-seeky."
On the boardwalk, watch the waves. They sound like steam
by Taylor Graham
The same old love song repeats in stereo--
Those lyrics, once fresh, new-minted, never-
The scratchy voice of love's sweet longing
On 78 vinyl, the man you marry is a prince;
Why must the human heart insist on looking
A love-singer croons alone; married voices
Infatuation plays its unrequited tune, a solo.
by Taylor Graham
Age twists the red-barked arctostaphylos
When sun comes through, toyon glistens green
I walk these paths cut through second growth
The ways meander down to placer creek-bed,
How many miners' dreams have washed downstream
And here's an aging poet, spine crook'd
|The line "All eight moons destroyed but one," was meant to refer to Harlan Ellison's short story "Eruption" which was inspired by Jacek Yerka's painting of the same name. [Author's note]||
by J. E. Stanley
Just "call me Ishmael tonight."
Beowulf returns from myth.
"I am . . . Shiva . . . destroyer of worlds."
Man's explorations will not cease.
Nothing will grow save moon blue flowers.
All eight moons destroyed but one,
by J. M. Jones
At first I thought I would make the sky my home.
I went to the store and bought the finest stones
I placed stones in the walls like words in a poem
My poem was a fortress, a windowless womb
But all I had of the world was up above--
in my mind as I brought the walls tumbling down.
I have put Judy Kerman's "Tree Frog Ghazal" on a separate page because it seemed to ask for a different background than the default for 2005 ghazals. You'll find my comments at the bottom of that page.
"Of Cards" speaks to the computer-solitaire addict in me--I know how the images remain when the screen is dark and can even inflect dreams. Beyond, that, though, the radif seems especially resonant as the lexeme "cards" flips through a variety of layouts.
Rachel labels "Guzzle" a "demi-ghazal," perhaps because it lacks a qafia. (I haven't asked her.) There're also the run-on shers (the 6th, 7th, and 8th). Demi or not, "Guzzle" is an effective ghazal. Perhaps I think so because of my own coffee jones, but most likely not. Coffee is an addiction; fortunately, it's an addiction without serious social or legal costs, and one that may have health benefits to balance any debits.
Taylor GrahamIf you browse back issues of The Ghazal Page, you will find several examples of Taylor Graham's fine poems. I see a common element in "Oldies but Goodies" and "Manzanita Ghazal," in that both present branching, bifurcation, as well as bearing fruit. (Bearing fruit is implied in "Oldies but Goodies" in the "married voices" loving "in stereo." Also, a motif of singleness becoming doubled runs through "Oldies but Goodies," matched by shadows, paths, and streams in "Manzanita Ghazal."
Both of these ghazals use the radif adroitly, without a qafia. Compare these ghazals with Judith Kerman's, which uses only the qafia, to see the different effects of the form chosen. Then look at Rachel Rawling's "Of Cards," which has both qafia and radif. Three different formal possibilities. For me, Taylor Graham and Judith Kerman's ghazals are not less ghazals the Rachel Rawlings, even if they use a subset of the full set of ghazal features. You, of course, may differ.
J. E. Stanley
For me, this ghazal is about what we see in the night sky as it is physically beyond our planet, as it sparkles in human mythologies, and as it reflects in literary works. The night sky is one of the major fields of human imagination. J. E. Stanley takes us from Genesis, via Melville, via Agha Shahid Ali, to Anglo-Saxon epic, to Hindu myth via Oppenheimer, to science fiction via Galileo, and, again, to science fiction via Harlan Ellison's story. Perhaps the imagination's historical, evolutionary course, makes a large spiral, with contemporary imaginations arriving at a self-aware form of myth.
J. M. JonesIf "Ghazal for Home" doesn't describe a spiral, then it traces an arc, or perhaps a less simple path of expansion / contraction, openness / closure, safety / risk. Think of each sher as actually a question: Is the sky home? Can home be bought? Are stone walls home? The womb? And if the horizon is home, is our home in transit?