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August Issue

All text and design © 2008, by John Isaacs-Young, Bill Batcher, Hannah Cortazzo, Robert Godwin, Mary Cresswill, Carol Lynn Grellas, and Gene Doty.

Man on the end of a Rope

John Isaacs-Young

This is the moment to declare it
Though I want it I cannot bear it

The nervous grab that got a bit
Could have taken the lot of it

The eye though open just a slit
Has caught too bright a glimpse of it

Her silken noose is custom fit
She grips the other end of it.

The rope is thin but strongly knit
What fool would pull away from it

I pull and pull like an idiot
My struggle has no point to it

She has it, yes and I admit
I'm loving every bit of it.

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Love Knot

Bill Batcher

A lot of love   is not love
kids have       tot love

youth has       hot love
thousand        kilowatt love

has age         forgot love?
why boy-        cott love?

who can         not love?
liebchen        polyglot love

Cupid           shot love
Vegas           jackpot love

misery          begot love
whiskey         bloodshot love

romantics       plot love
Arthur          Camelot love

poets seek      what? love?
Out Damn        Spot love

Rorschach       inkblot love
Fritz Lang      robot love

Forget me       not, Love
Bill's glad     I got love

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Ghalib's Ghazal

Hannah Cortazzo

At what cost do we turn from gods to praise Ghalib?
A list of poets lost and gone began: Ghalib

Sifting sand in the desert, found only water
Thirst is not desire (you said this once, Ghalib)

The saqi is saying pay attention to form
Yet wine only takes the shape of the throat of Ghalib

Gods lick dust, but the ancient libations are gone
Of altars we make hearths, but I preserved Ghalib.

O Hannah, weary traveler, have you lost him?
Rest then, the tides recede with or without Ghalib.

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The Unity of All That Is

Robert Godwin

If it is true we are the stuff of stars, of cosmic dust,
Then we are all, together, registrars of cosmic dust.

This cosmic creativity defines the worlds to be;
On every world within exist bazaars of cosmic dust.

Souks and markets hold a cornucopia of goods,
And some are known to trade in splendid jars of cosmic dust.

Each jar contains such Sparks — gathered from the universe —
Such storied Sparks, these priceless caviars of cosmic dust.

One Spark, one Soul. Each species gets its well-apportioned share
Of souls, gathered in vast seminars of cosmic dust.

Fact and Legend have no meaning on the worlds we’ve seen,
Having shared these worlds with Minotaurs of cosmic dust.

Within each cosmic Self, Five Kingdoms dwell in harmony,
Having sampled all the salad bars of cosmic dust.

As has long been taught by mystics from diverse beliefs,
We have come from mingled reservoirs of cosmic dust.

Our mystics further teach: as one, we hold the universe
Within us, for there are no Commissars of Cosmic Dust.

And I, poor Robin, commonest of creatures in this world,
Share with all life forms the scars of cosmic dust.

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Night

Mary Cresswell

Like they say, Rome wasn’t built in a night.
Echo answers, she’ll be right on the night.

I did everything wrong that afternoon.
I hoped I could just explain in a note.

So how can I write labels in a world
where you say ‘rock’ and I say ‘ilmenite’?

Abelard taught that love (and lust) are learned.
Eloise proved that they are both innate.

Hark, Dear Heart! ‘Tis our Destiny knocking!
Nope. That’s a thing going bump in the night.

It’s hell — all my eye and Betty Martin
— a gilded garland for a Mennonite . . .

Echo goes on and on and bloody on.
But we know Rome wasn’t built in a night.

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March 24th Ghazal

Carol Lynn Grellas

I've come again to kneel beneath your veil at dawn
in company of lilies, while I wail at dawn.

The crystal dewdrops tip on every blade of grass
I genuflect and watch the mottled quail at dawn.

With feathered plumes they travel to her marbled stone
then one by one outline a careful trail at dawn.

I watch them prance along a winding lambent path
and think of you, hands held with just a nail, at dawn.

I plead for your forgiveness of my selfish ways
your suffering a gift too all who fail at dawn.

I'm no more than a bird who's lost with broken wings
in need of you, my heart cries out, I hail at dawn

Dear savior, hear the Carol from my soul and guide
me through my prayers to you like clouds that sail at dawn

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Editor's Comments

Sun Jul 27 16:24:30 2008

Love poetry commonly views love as a snare — traditionally from the man's viewpoint. The ghazal is originally a love poem, as the original meaning of the word ("flirting with women") makes clear. The title of John Isaacs-Young's poem, "Man on a Rope," suggests hanging more immediately than love, at least to me. But the rope that this man's at the end of is a "silken noose." Technically, rhyming the radif in each sher knits that rope stronger, pulls that noose tighter. Bill Batcher's "Love Knot" explores a variety of knots we tie in the rope of love. The short lines, along with the white space in each line and the intense rhymes tie this knot tighter and tighter until it suddenly loosens in the last couplet — the snare opens to freedom.

As poets writing ghazals in English in the 21st century, how do we relate to the great ghazal writers of the past? Hannah Cortazzo's ghazal reflects on one possibility, a combination of the sense of loss and a feeling of continuity.

Dust. vapor, fog, dew, lightning: These elements of experience symbolze the transience of human life in a variety of cultures. A most effective 20th century expression is the song, "Dust in the Wind," by Kansas. Robert Godwin's ghazal takes the same image and gives it a positive turn — although "Cosmic Dust," along with some of the specific images still retains a sense of transiency, or so it does for me.

Like other ghazals on The Ghazal Page, Mary Cresswell's "Night" demonstrates that the ghazal can be witty, including the plays on the syllable, "night," throughout the poem.

The "silken noose" that snares the lover may be set by a divine lover as well as a human lover. In "March 24th Ghazal," Carol Lynn Grellas seeks to be snared by the divine, whose love knots are paradoxical freedom. The "clouds that sail at dawn," summoned by Carol's carol, express this freedom in an image not that far removed from cosmic dust.

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