The Year of the Dragon by Siham Karami

The Year of the Dragon

My parents’ fire spent, time seems to drag on
until the cosmos, smoking, spawns the dragon.

All my waters burning. Every look a flare.
Every boy I love turns me to dragon.

Stretch your wingspan’s luck between two rivers.
One, an ancient stream. One, a pipe to drag on.

Stalactites stab me, living in this cave—
to leave or enter in, pass through the dragon.

The marrow of all living things is soft.
The marrow of the universe is dragon.

Einstein, stumped. The Theory, elusive.
Beneath their grand equations skulks a dragon.

The daily drip-drip-drip of tedium
feeds the growing fires of the dragon.

I sit alone each night and dream escape.
Then wake each dawn to stroke the seething dragon.

We’re at each other’s throats. Why stay together?
Old friends walk off and shudder. It’s the dragon.

You smile and whisper in my ear, Siham, I promise.
O garish words! You made me kiss the dragon.

by Siham Karami

Twitter: @SihamKarami

Editor’s Note: The lines of a ghazal usually yearn towards something (love, spirituality, understanding), and this one does not disappoint. The dragon image is a metaphor upon which the reader may meditate.

A Prayer for the Prayer by Martin J. Elster

A Prayer for the Prayer

While straightening the tail end of October,
. . . .I step across my rug
. . . .of turf and see a bug
as slender as a drinking straw, a sober

pea-green, and unassuming as a nun.
. . . .Perhaps she is entreating
. . . .the god who has been heating
her body the whole summer not to run

away and strip the trees too rapidly
. . . .and leave her in a blizzard.
. . . .Now, basking like a lizard,
she doesn’t try to flee but studies me

with eyes that nearly dwarf her swivel-head.
. . . .I stroke her back. She races
. . . .away. Yet what she faces
is not my finger but the milky spread

that, by and by, will glaciate this lawn.
. . . .She stops as if she’s caught
. . . .my thought. Now on this plot
she’ll ambush flies till she and they are gone.

When will the mandibles of winter take
. . . .her spirit like some prey?
. . . .Who knows? But now, today,
she’ll revel in the sun — until I rake.

— Martin J. Elster

by Martin J. Elster, first published in The Flea.

Editor’s Note: It seems appropriate that this poem is an elegy of sorts because it first appeared in The Flea (which deserves an elegy). Rhyme and autumn seem to go together quite well.

The Mist by Martin J. Elster

The Mist

We danced that day as two who knew the mist.
As evening cooled the meadow drew the mist.

Orion shyly peeked above the ridge.
Cygnus, spread your wings, pursue the mist!

Each evening the red foxes roam the valley.
Like them, there was a time you knew the mist.

One night the moon came up, unrolled its rays.
A screeching raptor woke and slew the mist.

I called your name, called loud a thousand times!
A katydid responded through the mist.

Far-off, the owls tu-whit tu-whoo the mist.
They infiltrate my mind. I rue the mist.

The songbirds have all gone, the leaves have dried.
Only bats that dimly view the mist.

The breeze picked up across the distant hills.
None can remove the breath from you, the mist.

I watched a flock of martins heading south.
Then, clean away, a blizzard blew the mist.

by Martin J. Elster, first published in Lucid Rhythms.

Editor’s Note: The use of mist as a repetitive device in this ghazal emphasizes the emotional yearning of the narrator. The clever use of the bird in the second to last line to meet the ghazal’s name requirement is delightful.

Circling by Barbara Lydecker Crane

Circling

My mind circles and dives as I await the test.
Tomorrow looms, the date of the test.

I’ve cleaned my nest, done mindless chores,
trying not to concentrate on the test.

I knit and mend, as if my hands could forfend
a need to operate post-test.

But thoughts pierce the sultry, summer sky
to illuminate and equate the test

with dire news. I wish that I could wing it.
I wish I didn’t have to cultivate another test:

will I do my best to deal with fate?
With flying colors, Crane, you state that test.

by Barbara Lydecker Crane

Editor’s Note: This ghazal uses the repetitive form to highlight the obsessive worry we all feel when awaiting news of medical testing and possible illness. The emotional stress is haunting.

Announcement:  CLOSED to submissions until August 20, 2015. I will resume reading on August 20, 2015. Daily poems will resume on August 24. Thank you!

The World by Martin J. Elster

The World

Unlike the azure that protects the world,
the sky-dome’s plexiglass reflects the world.

A spherical lab experiments for eons.
Slowly, the life it bears perfects the world.

Billions of bits of sparkle whirling, whirling.
Something’s alive among these specks: the world.

A robed astronomer sees a curious glow
light up his globe as he dissects the world.

You shut the greenhouse windows one by one,
then wonder who it is that wrecks the world.

With a writ of attachment in its curved appendage,
the alien says it must annex the world.

Amphibians, mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, insects—
two by two a ship collects the world.

“Farewell,” she said, and fled to a new planet.
He shrugs when queried, “Was your ex the world?”

Tumefied into a scarlet monster:
the sun. Nobody resurrects the world.

The astronaut, though warned she’ll turn to salt,
glances back and recollects the world.

A cosmic magpie spies a blue-white marble,
then, comet-like, swoops down and pecks the world.

by Martin J. Elster, first published in The Chimaera.

Author’s Note: About the makta (poet’s name) in the final sher: “magpie” is “elster” in German.

Editor’s Note: The interweaving of biblical and mythological references within the context of science and science fiction is impressive in this ghazal. Hopefully the author will forgive my video link; it seemed appropriate.

My Heart Is an Extremity by Siham Karami

My Heart Is an Extremity

Who crowned the heads of conquerors with leaves?
You slam the door. I’m rolling up my sleeves.

We read each other’s eyes and almost drown
like gypsies rendered speechless by the leaves.

Then winter strips us down to skeletons:
static, silence, sparks are all it leaves.

What is this archaeology of love,
brushing fragile shards, preserving leaves?

Waking to a gentle blush, we whisper
truth in half-words, all the heart believes.

We slowly die, let loose from the tree,
then whirl in restless, weightless crowds of leaves.

Your hands dry out like parchment on their bones,
but longing for their firm grip never leaves.

The spine holds words together, names the whole
but we extract their meaning from the leaves.

Don’t measure time, Siham, by things that fall,
but by the upward thrust of newborn leaves.

by Siham Karami, first published in Angle Poetry

Twitter: @SihamKarami

Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem is unexpected, making it easy to picture the scenes detailed by the repetition of “leaves.” The longing that underpins the ghazal form is beautifully illustrated here.