Out Among the Ghazals

Ashes in the Making

(after Agha Shahid Ali’s Even the Rain)

you seem to dance like morning’s leaves in brightest hue
a grove of secrets burning, ashes in the making.

no lover ever naturally delighted in the view
of his or her heart’s desire as ashes in the making.

black shoals of coal wrenched from their river beds to fuel
power stations feeding light, shed deadly ashes in the making.

those poets who freely scattered seeds, they knew
the most dazzling hope has bitterest ashes in the making.

she never shared her bed with any one addicted to the blue
consuming smoke, yet she found ashes, in the making.

the alchemy of bread by which the fallen grain renews
leaves ghosts of water, beds of ashes in the making.

watch ghostly elders wisp and totter down the railing to the pool
lighter than water now, they float like ashes in the making.

now clothe your heart quiescent to the season’s turning, sewell
green leaves for autumn’s fire for ashes in the making.

ams/edmonton/jan 19/14
Well, now i’ve done it. Thrown my hat in the ghazal ring. Seized the gauntlet of ghazal? Not sure how to say it. Perhaps, fallen in love gets closest. What a fascinating form.
I have avoided it for years.
Deliberately ignored it.
Oh, i heard all the cool kids talking about ghazal. And i thought, you won’t catch me dabbling in that. Too trendy. Too bad for you, you’ll probably get to see a blog about my pride in all the cultural moments i’ve let the boat pass by.
But, too bad for me, i had somehow gotten into a very fun poetry exchange with a couple of friends. The simple task – send a poem, and then the others pick a phrase or two to riff off in their own poem, send it back, for you to pick another riff line, and so on.
And soon enough, one of them sent me a ghazal. Well, time to roll up the sleeves instead of rolling the eyes.
I googled ghazal, and found Agha Shahid Ali’s brilliant Even the Rain.
Here’s a link to it:
As you can see, he’s miles ahead of me. How wonderful to happen upon his work as a starting point for a hopeful relationship with a form that is, of course, not simply a fad or trend. Rather, the ghazal (as all the cool kids know) is a lasting, powerful structure, that has served in several languages, as far back as the 8th century, as a vehicle for expressing poetry.
I look forward to digging in. Of course, maybe my own work will never progress beyond dabbling; but, off the bat, i am delighted with the challenge and poetic potential.
The title of my work above, “Ashes in the Making,” is a phrase from a lovely ghazal sent to me by Don Perkins. I’ve taken it entirely out of context, and had a great time doing it.
For more on the ghazal, google it. We live in a world of wonders, in so many ways.
If you love ghazals, send me one.
all my relations

2 Comments Add yours

  1. robert okaji says:

    Love this! Very strong ghazal. I am envious.


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