Dog days, a wearisome unfallen rain
hangs in the air, a glum unfallen rain.
The slow buzz of fat bees is caught
in flower throats, can’t thrum unfallen rain.
Clouds hoard spoils they’ve taken from the seas,
refuse all pleas to overcome unfallen rain.
Oppression snuffs out every breath—no argument
remains against this deaf and dumb unfallen rain.
Don’t move, this too shall pass, we say,
for all the fallen have known some unfallen rain.
A heavy, angry god of thunder booms,
collecting in his kettledrum unfallen rain.
And you, Cynthia, would break this hold of grief?
As if mere words could summon falling rain!
Lately I have been attempting poems in the Arabic form known as the ghazal (pronounced “ghuzzle”). I have avoided it in the past because, like haiku, it has been widely misunderstood by a popular rush to adapt it to English, and fallen far from the mark in both letter and spirit. But I’ve been reading the poet Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001) who clearly explains the requirements and promulgates good examples of the ghazal in English. He’s convinced me of the possible power of the form, classically rendered, in the English language, and I am enjoying working with it as much as—though quite differently from— the sonnet.