Dancing shaman with a kingfisher's head.
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The Ghazal Page

Issue One

. . . my breast

by C W Hawes

When I awoke, a sprig of sweet basil was on my breast;
And I spoke to her whose head has never lain upon my breast.

A dream is sometimes preferable to reality,
A hazy counterstroke to burdens heavy on my breast.

Sweetest memories are found in the afterglow of dreams
And so I stoke the raging fire burning within my breast.

When one is fully awake and sees beyond the veil . . . ,
Yes, being unequally yoked sears the heart in my breast.

I called to her to come and take up the journey with me.
"Not yet," she said; I invoke the Friend with heart-cries from my breast.

Akikaze lays down his pen, there's nothing more to write;
Autumn's wind: a chilly cloak; sweet basil's rooted in his breast.

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. . . lonely

by C W Hawes

Surrounded by people, millions of people; they are lonely:
Hollow sounds of laughter too loudly ring away, "I'm lonely."

The bell's bitter tinkling notes resonate from heart to heart,
A sharp, pinching ache in the spirit to flay the lonely.

A husband and wife of thirty-something years, children gone,
Look at each other with vacant eyes which say, "I'm lonely."

The children running in the schoolyard yelling, "Tag, you're it!"
But the one standing by the fence portrays she is lonely.

All the co-workers bustling about the office and at home,
Downing pills and swigging booze, they too relay they're lonely.

Lying in the nursing home bed with memories for friends,
The old woman, much to her dismay, knows she'll die lonely.

Akikaze now lays down his pen—let the silence speak!
For the blowing of the autumn wind slays all the lonely.

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. . . my Friend

by C W Hawes

In the middle of the long night, I called out to my Friend
That my voice might ease the nagging doubt in my Friend.

And long before the time of morning prayers, a special word
I breathed to God so that He might route it to my Friend.

Suddenly in the middle of the day I felt a longing;
My soul spoke the Name, my heart sobbed—I was without my Friend.

Oh the longing and the aching for the sound of kind words!
In the Face I see the emotional drought of my Friend.

And the wordless song which Akikaze sings, wings its way
To the Soul and becomes a Comforter about my Friend.

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Small Town Ghazal

by Susan J. Erickson

Dazzled tourists arrive. Ah and ooh in July.
Don't know we've signed a rain IOU in July.

Hummingbirds squabble over sugar water;
men over oil. What to pursue in July?

"To pick a ripe melon" she said, "feel it up.
Soft as suede means a ripe honeydew in July."

Violet-green swallows swoop up the dryer vent.
What a strange place for a rendezvous in July.

"Guilt leads to atonement," my novel professes.
Ask yourself, could this possibly be true in July?

Midst the purple haze of fireweed, a bee buzzes
like Jimi Hendrix playing kazoo in July.

In order to form a more perfect union,
Susan and George say, "I do, do do," in July.

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Ghazal On Lines From Rumi

by Susan J. Erickson

Cloth for green robes has been cut from pure absence.
With sleeves lined in saffron, I mourn your absence.

My forgiveness door has creaky hinges, a
rusted lock. My thoughts reek with impure absence.

Rosemary is for remembrance. But what herb
is a balm, the antidote to cure absence?

I consult the ouija board for answers to
soul questions, gambling all to obscure absence.

Look for a red kite at dawn. Its battered tail
strings are proof. I will never prefer absence.

Without notice the grief sharpener arrives.
Turn away! Don't go down that road. Detour absence.

God performs holy CPR. Says, "Susan,
each breath is a twinned prayer to endure absence."

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Ghazal For Michael Ondaatje

by Susan J. Erickson

after reading The English Patient

We are communal histories. Our stories interlace like this
ghazal. Its rhyme, refrain—twisted syllables of lace. Like this.

Vascular sizood is the anatomically correct name
for that pale hollow, that oasis at the throat's base like this.

Echo is the soul of the voice, nomadic prophet of faith
swallowing absence until redeemed by stone and space. Like this?

In the palace of winds . . . swimmers splash on a cave wall . . . cool moth
of stone . . . mirages cross memory's map . . . leave a trace like this . . .

The heart is an organ of fire; the wild poem but a trompe l'oeil
that mimics the body's intrinsic savage grace. Like this?

Michael, you say it is important to die in a holy place.
I, Susan, say, "Let me live, too, in a holy place like this."

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Editor's Comments

The first issue for 2006 has six ghazals by two poets, both new to The Ghazal Page. All six ghazals are traditional in form, as both poets use qafiya, radif, and makhta. Perhaps more significant, all six ghazals are traditional in theme: love human and divine, meaning in presence and absence. There is an ease in the flow of these ghazals that indicates (to me, at least) that the ghazal is beginning to be at home in English.

C W Hawes

Some refer to the ghazal as the "sonnet" of Near Eastern culture. Perhaps so. These three ghazals do bear resemble to many sonnets in theme, although, not of course, in structure. Note especially Chris's easy play with the qafiya in these poems, notably in " . . . lonely."

Who is never lonely? Will never be lonely? Not, I feel safe in suggesting, any of the readers of these ghazals. We all have been, are, or will be lonely, waiting for the silence to speak.

Susan J. Erickson

On the face of it, I wouldn't think "like this" would make a good radif, since "this" refers forward to a following noun. With the exception of the first sher of "Ghazal of Michael Ondaatje," no noun follows "like this." "This" as a pronoun is a pointer; in this ghazal, it points to an unstated significance that the reader completes.

Notice also the sense of community and the interlacing of persons in Susan's ghazals.

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