Dancing shaman with a kingfisher's head.
Back to 2007 Ghazals

The Ghazal Page

October Issue

All text and design © 2007, by David Jalajel, Esther Greenleaf Murer, and Gene Doty.

After Persian Ghazals Are Explained to an Arab Poetaster

David Jalajel

Your explanation's just one long, defeated word.
No verse can bear to carry a repeated word.

A truth is never humble when enshrined in verse
But will not stand to rival a conceited word.

I'd fail to kiss the beauty of her parting lips
Since she is bound to utter such a cheated word.

A sage advises his disciples clear their eyes,
And I call you to ponder a deleted word.

Each house must bake and butter its own wholesome bread.
How can you honour guests with that pre-heated word?

I'll wish to watch the feature playing on the screen
And not the tiresome head of that re-seated word.

A stool pigeon still has the mourning eyes of love,
Until it splatters your hat with that excreted word.

My father's father sold you several cups of tea
So you can drink down easily that meat-head word!

Back to the top


(Homage to e e cummings)
Esther Greenleaf Mürer

Pity this busy monster, manunkind, not progress;
or else misanthropy is what you'll find, not progress.

All hail the approaching bankruptcy of stars and stones!
Soon every square yard of land will be mined; what progress!

Translating littleness into ultraomnipotence,
"Perfection is what we're aiming for," they chime, "not progress."

Paperwork metastasizes, tears the flesh of time,
returns on its unself — a double bind, not progress.

Swaddled in cyberspace, death and life safely beyond,
icons of virtual violence are enshrined as progress.

Pharmaceuticals ensure a comfortable disease
and that no child shall be left behind in its progress.

Meanwhile and light years ago, the universe next door
pursues its far and wee ballooning, blind to progress.

All our comings and goings through curving wherewhen
mirror Sisyphean unwish, misdefined as progress.

Back to the top

Chocolate Guzzle

Esther Greenleaf Mürer

All my friends know how I feel about bittersweet chocolate.
They alert me when there's a deal on bittersweet chocolate.

At parties the other guests gorge upon crackers and brie,
while I go in search of a wheel of bittersweet chocolate.

I'll pass on the buffalo chips with guavas, filberts and chevre,
but I yield to none in my zeal for bittersweet chocolate.

When flyfishing on the river, I don't mind catching nothing;
before I left home I filled my creel with bittersweet chocolate.

I don't go on marches to save the flammulated skink,
but I reckon I'd storm the Bastille for bittersweet chocolate.

All these quirks mirror a nutrition-mad mother who
would never let me make a meal of bittersweet chocolate.

Back to the top


Esther Greeleaf Mürer

Strive to finish what you have begun before the gong sounds.
Redo what you have overdone before the gong sounds.

Shear the Angora goats, spin and dye and weave the mohair,
sew yourself a suit of homespun before the gong sounds.

Stun the world of music with a sellout performance
of your suite for harp and helicon before the gong sounds.

Conjure into the void the oozing styes of commerce
with which the land is overrun before the gong sounds.

Turn the universe inside out and watch the threads
quicken into a ganglion before the gong sounds.

Clothe your choicest insights in green and leafy words
that they may enrich the lexicon before the gong sounds.

Back to the top


David Jalajel

"I know, my son, your starry vision. Below that sky there's the wolf.
I fear that in their feral envy you will die for the wolf."

"Please, O Father, we will keep him with us at all times."
He let him go, for now his ghostly heart grew shy of the wolf.

In the darkness of the well they heard the water splash,
But then the pit breathed in, and the dusky spring fell dry for the wolf.

"It augurs evil to tell an open lie to a ghostly man,
But let our bloody gestures and our tongues imply it's the wolf."

They came before him holding a child's torn and bloodied shirt:
"Father! 'He is our youngest brother' we did cry to the wolf."

Though she was cunning, and her heat fired the passion of a king,
He was resolved within his soul he would not lie with the wolf.

"In this cell your dreams foretell my station on the Earth.
Seven years of drought will end upon the sigh of the wolf."

"Bring your ghostly father, so he may see who wields the staff.
Inside he smiled and was sated. His thoughts were wry towards the wolf."

The father's tears were wiped now with a grown man's musky shirt.
He beheld his son, King David's father, with the keen eye of the wolf.

Back to the top


Esther Greenleaf Mürer

Where the waxwing winters, we don't know anymore.
In the woods the fringed gentian doesn't grow anymore.

The creek runs past what is now a toxic waste dump;
no water striders skitter to and fro anymore.

We follow sunken pathways not yet overpaved
and hike along railroad beds where trains don't go anymore.

How shall we ransom the long-lost music of the spheres
When the ancestral shofar doesn't blow anymore?

Drivers talking on cell phones whiz around corners.
Not a one remembers how to go slow anymore.

Esther, marooned in time, laments with keen abandon,
surfing cataracts that won't let her sew anymore.

Back to the top

Editor's Comments

David Jalajel

After seeing quite a bit of David Jalajel's prose, here's your chance to read some of his poetry. (If you've followed links in his bio, you've already seen some of his non-ghazal poems.)

Satire is always fun — unless it's your viewpoint being mocked. In "After Persian Ghazals Are explained to an Arab Poetaster," David uses the Persian form, complete with qafiya and radif, to satirize the dogmatic attitude that the Persian form is the only ghazal form and the corresponding attitude that the Arab ghazal is the original and only form. David draws some of the sting by casting the speaker in the poem as a poetaster in the title. Consider this poem aimed at an attitude and not individuals. See the entry, "Who Said That?" on Don't Muzzle the Ghazal for further reflections.

The story of Joseph is important in all three Abrahamic traditions. David's ghazal centers it on the image/metaphor of the wolf. He includes the elements of the story that focus on deceit and trickery, as well as loss and restoration. The story of Joseph is told in Genesis 37-50. Here's a synopsis on the Web. In the Koran, the story of Joseph (Yusef) is found in .

The great medieval Persian poet, Jami, also told this story. There's no end to the telling of good stories: who's next?

Esther Greenleaf Mürer

Esther Greenleaf Mürer's poems are a wonderful find. In technique, image, and theme, they are powerful. From e. e. cummings through the bittersweetness that we each find in life to the shortness of life to the deteriorating world we've made, these poems sing.

Often, in writing the Editor's Comments, I feel they're extraneous to the poems, like putting cheap flimsy frames on masterpiece paintings. I've not felt more so than writing these comments on Esther Greenleaf Mürer's ghazals. Please attend to the poems and ignore the comments.

Back to the top