And our prompt today is to write a ghazal. This is an old Persian form of poetry, and rather strange if you’re used to European meter-and-rhyme forms. A ghazal is made of couplets. Traditionally, the the two lines of the first couplet end with the same word or phrase, and then that same word/phrase is used to end the second line of each succeeding couplet. All of the lines are supposed to be of about the same length, although there is no formal meter or syllable count. If you want to get super traditional/technical, the last couplet is supposed to refer to the poet, either by name, or through some kind of allusion.I believe I wrote a ghazal last year, the poem entitled "To Know the Fullness of Pain", and that was by prompt as well I'm sure. This one, though, I feel may be somewhat more finely crafted.
One of the strangest things about a ghazal is there’s no obligation for the various couplets to have much of anything to do with one another. You can almost think of each couplet as its own, self-contained poem. The unity of the poem as a whole doesn’t derive from narrative logic, so much as from the repeated refrain that ends each couplet.
For examples, see Agha Shahid Ali’s Even the Rain, Heather McHugh’s rather silly Ghazal of the Better-Unbegun, or Patricia Smith’s Hip-Hop Ghazal.
A Ghazal to Inadequate Plums
Through years of pine and fresh paint, I still remember the plums.
I remember our adolescence dawning to the scent of fallen plums.
The sun, a ripened orange dripping sticky, saccharine sunlight
on your cheeks and my skinned knees between trees full of plums.
I can remember how pungently each summer day embraced us,
sending us back home in the gnat-enamouring eau de plums.
Your cheeks, were they freckled? Did your smile glint in the sun?
Did our games exude a beauty from you, rich like unplucked plums?
I search through memory, past rods in my knee, spring, winter and fall.
Why can't I recall your face like I can remember those fallen plums?