Category Archives: GHAZALS IN ENGLISH



Lenders continue to love their usurious way of falling
while grubbers hover above a penurious way of falling.

An ill wind blows at the lady’s presumptive tiara;
how it cackles upon her perjurious way of falling.

“I laid me down with a will,” R. L. Stevenson wrote;
Dylan Thomas raved a fume-furious way of falling.

A comedown is sometimes called a comeuppance but
my tuppence deems that a spurious way of falling.

A warning to those who topple off ladders: bracing
to save yourself is a most injurious way of falling.

When fish die, they turn upside-down and rise
in the water; this is their curious way of falling.

I dream I leap into heaped colors of newfallen leaves
fingers crossed for a windup luxurious way of falling.



In the belly of all beginning, big as a pea, is the child inside;
rolling salt of the spume, of tears, of the sea, is the child inside.

The trouble with floating?  Habits accrue against floating, they
grow like barnacles, heavy, sinking the glee of the child inside.

The dark in a stranger much older, much larger, manipulates,
teaches a sorrow, impresses a dark tyranny on the child inside.

Replace the true face, deface with tattoo, learn what to do, and
for others change or cover the caged agony of the child inside.

Even the seemingly suave may be suddenly taken with urges
unkempt to disrupt Miss Manners At Tea, by the child inside.

A tiny detector of bogus, though paused or muted at times,
still writhes against snake oil and hyperbole in the child inside.

Call me by name, please notice I came, I was here
I am me!… persists the perennial plea of the child inside.

Toddle first, toddle last, time siphons the juice from the bloom;
still there, still at work, is the sweet bumble-be of the child inside.



The snow will make no noise, but clasp the ground in silence,
slowly muffling, snuffing-out, all but the sound of silence.

A blood moon will rise beyond the last wisps of withered wheat
and deepening chills of wind blow circles around the silence.

Old uncle at the festivities, mostly a piece of history, still
he will hear a calliope, watch a merry-go-round in silence.

Sometimes the songs my mother never sang to me
drift on the blown flurries over her stony mound of silence.

So many poems have simply died for a lack of sounding;
are locked, like the terminal years of Ezra Pound, in silence.

What cannot be said, once and for all, howls dreadfully
like a two-headed dog that continues to hound the silence.

It was too early, earlier, and now it’s become too late
to fix what broke or rewind the clocks unwound by silence.

See how kindness is kin to snow in the darkness—
flakes floating down to a stately, dumbfounded silence.

The slight interfering noise towards the end of the audio was contributed by my dog, Chloë , who was nearby, lying on her back with her paws in the air, wriggling and panting with joy.



Dawn, that old hooker light of the world
returns from wherever she spent the night in the world.

Dust motes randomly dance on a yellowish beam,
soft-nudging my dream to a flight from the world.

So much to do…sweep and dust, dust, and it’s
dusty again! It feels like a fight with the world.

It’s important not to be eaten, at least for today,
or be carried away by the huge appetite of the world.

In their globular bowl, small fry hang among floating
green fronds, hide in the watersprite from the world.

You chocolate mustachioed child, how I love
how your day is another big bite of the world.

Such lucky animals, those who have learned
when to be—and not be—polite in the world.

All of a sudden the day is riddled with hiccups
here as I say once again gesundheit to the world.

One eventually comes to notice the colors of dust—
so many shades between black and white in the world.

I know by a certain color of blue—and also
because we have music, something is right in the world.



“…gathering swallows twitter in the sky.”
—John Keats, “To Autumn”


Come autumn, gathering swallows twitter in the sky;
their song portends oncoming bitter from the sky.

Chickadees hop amid the rose hips ‘til
in pursuit of blue they flitter toward the sky.

Lingering gladioli lean along the fence
aiming one last blossom-spitter at the sky.

Indian summer, you old scoundrel, heartbreak
mocker of the stars, you are a counterfeiter of the sky.

Earlier darkness doesn’t faze the ever-blinking
radio red eye of the transmitter in the sky.

Electronics do not know this is the melancholy
season, though they sense a jitter in the sky.

It is the season when things die, return to haunt
in guises ravelled by cloud-knitters in the sky.

When I am old…am I already old?…then I
will head, shed all this earthly litter, for the sky.

O hold me tight tonight, you cold, you bright
immutable, you ever-fickle glitter in the sky.



Seems like Beelzebub’s winning all over again,
smugly cavorting and grinning all over again.

God and the weather are angry and threaten us now.
Adam and Eve must be sinning all over again.

Who will be Noah and notice a need for an Ark?
The number of righteous is thinning all over again.

Flames lick the eaves, acrid smoke rips the nose,
and Nero has come violinning all over again.

Now to earth’s wanderers who will give refuge and
make them at home with her spinning all over again?

We say that we love, we want to believe it, but
why does it feel like tailspinning all over again?

The proverbs of ancients hammer our latterday
numbskulls with dire disciplining all over again.

It was all said before but since nobody listens—
must we go back to beginning all over again?



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.