Spreading poetic wings

This is my first attempt at writing a ghazal (pronounced “guzzle”) a medieval Persian form of poetry with ancient Arabic roots. Traditional ghazals have themes of love, longing, and loss. They are often sung. Couplets are typically comprised of autonomous lines and the final stanza sometimes contains the poet’s name or a connection to its meaning (mine being either “from France” or “free one.”)

I have entitled this ghazal “Relationships.” Is it romantic? About a married couple? About colleagues? Or… what? You decide, Dear Reader…

For the record, I find this form incredibly challenging. I am still working on it (hmmm. Same can be said of some relationships).

Relationships

We yoked ourselves in this chosen journey
We get old, in one another’s way 

Passions burn like inspirational fire
Tongues burn cold in another way

A heart weighted with iron and ire
Can be a heart of gold in another way 

Narratives are sometimes cardboard boxes
Packaging people to be sold in another way

Your words cannot cage me, for I’m a bird set free 
Your truth is yours; I hold it another way

Bird in Hand 3mollycakes. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

*******

with thanks to Wendy Everard on the last day of the March Open Write at Ethical ELA, and to all who provided poetic inspiration there over the past five days

with thanks also to Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in the month of March

16 thoughts on “Spreading poetic wings

  1. There’s a lamenting tone to your poem, Fran. Like you, I find the form challenging and just could not do it justice yesterday as I travel. I think you’ve captured some of the challenges aging poses to relationships.

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    • This is a lament, in its way. It’s hard to share a vision, a life, or to reach a common goal if people cannot pull together. That word “old” was a late addition – certainly linked to aging, and also to the staleness of things growing old in any problematic relationship. This form looks simple, and is anything but!

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  2. I love this structure and wow, such powerful images for a complex topic. I have been trying to capture some aspects of a long marriage in my writing and finding it very difficult. I want to be honest, not too negative, and also understanding, respectful, appreciative and hopeful. But honest! I find it here in your piece. I loved the opening line “yoked together… to get old, in another’s way”- almost a laughing line. Yet I find your poem quite serious and thought -provoking.

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    • Thank you for your words – of course, the yoking can apply to a work relationship, and “old” to the staleness of not getting along, but it’s more applicable in a long marriage and I agree: in that context it can almost be a laughing line. I so appreciate your insight!

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  3. Each time I read this ghazal I see another favorite part. The first time it was the heart being gold in another way. Today, the narratives are hitting home for me as I see two people close to me breaking up, one changing the narrative and boxing the other in. And then there comes the bird, a commitment to not living in the box – to discovering our own truths and allowing it to set us free. Your ghazal is heartfelt!

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    • I tweaked the ghazal a little from the first draft – took out a bit and added “old,” I think. So there are differences…this whole thing was born of a phrase I heard in an instructional coaching training: “I hold it another way.” I just loved that an immediately began thinking of how I’d write to it, around it…the joy of the writerly life:) Thank you, Kim!

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  4. Shout out for the whole poem and especially for this line: “Tongues burn cold in another way”
    “Tongues burn cold” this brought up so many associations for me and it’s also a genius turn of phrase. this is a poetic form that requires some patience and persistence. Thank you for beautifully modeling what’s possible.

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  5. What can be more complicated than relationships? You have caught the enigma of it all in your lines!
    I didn’t know that about the last line including the poet’s name. I love the words you have chosen and the depth of meaning of your last line, if only everyone would be content to hold the truth a little differently from others!
    Congratulations on trying out yet another poetic form in such a powerful way!
    I have heard many ghazals sung in Hindi, but without understanding the language they have been lost on me and they’re usually pitched a bit high for my liking! But they do sound haunting.

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    • I’d seen ghazals before and didn’t know until this that the poet’s signature appears via a connection to the name. As if there needed to be one more layer of complexity! Yet that held special allure for me…I read about Indian, Iranian, and Pakistani musicians singing ghazals. I can hear them in your description – but understanding the words would certainly make all the difference. That’s where the power is. Thank you so much for YOUR words!

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  6. I find the ghazal form so difficult! You did a gorgeous job with this – and left me pondering about the give and take of relationships. This line is particularly thought-provoking – “Tongues burn cold in another way.” It is a scary thing in a relationship, I think, when all that’s left is cold. Thank you for this poem!

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    • I can’t see myself writing many ghazals, Maureen! This was born of a line I heard in a professional development session on instructional coaching: “I hold it another way.” I loved that and knew instantly I’d need to write around it, so, when the ghazal prompt appeared right afterward… you know how the writerly magic happens. Even when the magic is a lot of work. 🙂

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