Saturday, May 2, 2009

3 (More) Ghazals

Happy Saturday all. Here are three more ghazals for your reading pleasure, written over the past few days. I'm really happy this sequence is continuing to move along, & I've been very gratified by readers' responses. Right now I'm going by the theory "write 'em fast, revise 'em fast;" actually that has been my theory for awhile. I recall that Thomas Hardy said something to the effect that a poem loses "its freshness" after a couple of revisions. Of course, like any rule, that one's just begging to be broken, but in general it works for me.

Hope you enjoy them.

“the rain is as classical as ever”

what else is like rain at 5 a m on the green tin roof a
marimba clucking a pentatonic scale under wool

mallets doesn’t cut it a clarinet in the backroom chirping
descending thirds doesn’t cut it an upright bass groaning chromatic

blues lines is not it—the coffee still steeping in the presspot
the mild embarassement of dressing in the kitchen when only the

cows are lowing dark in dark pastures—so exposed
to no one with memories of the Greek alphabet carved in stone as the           rain-

drops carve stones on the cliffs above Bodega Bay where the
gulls dip thru the mist & it’s last November & I could be

anywhere the rain drips on the green roof at 5 a m—
the tide pools awash in the surf off Lincoln City the

rain descending in sheets like extended chords
sounding crisp & without any sustain—a dish of

ravioli swimming in marinara a white
tablecloth—dressing in the dark as the coffee steeps ex-

posed a classical guitar left out on the
green tin roof in the rain & I could be singing

(title quote from Anne Waldman’s Holy City)

Ghazal 4/29

at 5:00 a m the stars are suspended raindrops thru the kitchen
window is there any sound in the smothered velvet air the

cascade of one semi southerly down the highway a huge exhalation a
transistor radio crackling a Red Sox game thru a

Rockingham VT hemlock green spring evening a screened-in porch in
1966 listening to balls & strikes with a man whose breathing was

labored—he did sit quiet in hemlock green air rising from the green
Connecticut River the house built into a hill it had hemlock green

trim—the new moon’s velvet dark this morning around the teardrop
constellations—a baseball scudding into leftfield at a park in

San Francisco a honeydew green spring morning 1996 the
memory of April air—the silence of baseball punctuated with the

report of a bat the silence of listening punctuated with a
wheeze a rale a cough—the stoic crying velvet morning sky

Ghazal 5-1

when stars flowered white & green & shattered to
constellations blooming over Indian Mountain as yet the summit

invisible in a sky that could be night tho it’s morning the
red roses brimming across a white pergola a white sun dress a

porcelain Blessed Virgin—the Joshua Trees’ white flowers
flowering thru shattered Owens Valley the

history of water in the city of angels etched into dry lakes the
stars’ petals unfurled along an invisible ridgeline—white roses for

innocence—hailstones pelting the driveway yesterday morning a
water glass smashed to constellations & orange

roses equal desire & lavendar roses for love at
first sight Dante’s for instance—stars blossomed lavendar white red a

Joshua Tree’s hunchbacked bouquets conferred whitely a
boarded-up diner’s windows shattered to constellations a pink gem-

stone rosary my father carried in wartime a porcelain Virgin—the
stars blooming white & yellow thru this sky’s

black waters tho it’s morning somewhere tho not here the
yellow stars shattered tho yellow roses say goodbye

John Hayes
© 2009


  1. Wow, these are fabulous! I had to read them out loud they were so full of rhythm. You say the rain is "classical as ever" but these poems to my ear are some pretty funky jazz. Get a stand up bass playing and you "could be singing!" I truly love the second one-- so sweet and sad. It really captures for me that sense of loss you wrote about.

  2. René's comment gave me an idea, John. Have you considered reading some of your newer poems aloud? On RFB, I mean. That would be a great treat.

    My favourite line? "rain descending in sheets like extended chords
    sounding crisp & without any sustain"

  3. Hi Rene & Sandra:

    Rene: Eberle plays the upright! She & I have talked off & on about musical settings for my poetry, but to date this has all been discussion. So glad you enjoyed them & that you wanted to read them aloud.

    Sandra: Yes, I'd consider that; I was always considered a good reader, & it would be a fun, low-pressure recording project. Thanks!

  4. I too would like to be able to hear you read these great poems on RFB.I hope some of these make it into your book.I particularly like the listening to the radio baseball game on the porch poem.well done John,keep goin'!

  5. Hi TFE:

    I'll definitely do some recording of these-- not sure if it will be the next time I post some, but soon.

    My book is going to concentrate on my San Francisco poems with a few Charlottesville poems to round things off. Actually this series is making me think of a separate book for these & the poems I wrote last year. They're all different enough in tone & theme etc. to warrant something separate. But I'll probably post them all here.


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