Let’s All Write a Ghazal!

by Paul Mathers

The ghazal is a Persian form which hit its peak of popularity around 1000 C.E. The name is derived from an Arabic word for “the talk of boys and girls.” Traditional ghazals were rhymed couplets, around 5 to 12 of them, about wine or love. Another feature was that the poet often worked their own name into the last line.

As is so often the case, our textbook then muddies the waters. Ron Padgett tells us that modern ghazals need not be about love or wine or include the poet’s name. In fact, the only similarity I can discern to the early form is that there are two long lines paired together (not even necessarily rhymed.)

For my ghazal, I decided to try and find a middle path (love, wine, and so forth, unrhymed, and firmly in the world of middle-age, straddling the worlds of the sacred and profane). Essentially, this is about my day today.

(And sorry for the line breaks. WordPress’ formatting doesn’t like long lines.)

A Ghazal

by Paul Mathers

Out in the streets the paraplegic prostitute sensually hugs a junky,

within our walls we talk of Maritain, hear late Beethoven aspire to work the universe like a woodwind.

Rhinoviral is the condition of my true love’s nose as we languor away a Saturday

imbibing cabernet to quench sore throat sting like faith upon anxiety.

We make decisions on our mortgages, a house in a declining town we can hardly afford.

The stew bums belligerent out of dark alleys alarming our dogs named after composers.

A God who loves beauty and order: essential to my structure. A well matched tie

or formed line, a harmony for Werckmeister, a distant but palpable echo of the music of the spheres.

My love rescues me from the peril of my ill, fevered, middle-aged humour of anxiety

with the evidence of sola fide and the sovereign clockmaker under curtains.

As the neighboring loving neighborhood of merchants employs armed guards to run off the vagrants,

Paul Mathers rests in a dotted outline, pacific in heart, soul, mind, strength, love, and a full glass of wine.

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