Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Sitting near Dupont Circle on Amartithi morning   [ghazal]

I am the poet of this place   so it seems
sounding the music of this space   so it seems

here at the circle I listen   & I watch
am I a poet who's misplaced?   so it seems

yellow the arrow is flashing   hurry up!
red now expresses its distaste?   so it seems

someone is hammering   building   God knows what
Brahma & Vishnu in business   so it seems

while the pedestrians wander   on their way
no one shows signals of disgrace   so it seems

this is the world that emerges   from sleep's flame
white like the ash from a furnace   so it seems

sea-like   afloat on espresso   this white foam
coffee   has journeyed from distance   so it seems

mushrooms   are mixed in the omelette   I eat here
food is   our animal solice   so it seems

voices   are speaking in English   like always
native   existence was displaced   so it seems

mornings   are normal Ardeo   in DC
nothing   looks different in this case?   so it seems





"Amartithi" ["endless life"] refers to the anniversary of Meher Baba's passing away (Jan.31 1969) -- a date marked for annual celebration.

In this further attempt at an "English ghazal" I've continued to play with the new (to me) principle of writing with a set cadence [beher] in every line. Possibly, this ghazal may be a tad more unified than is classically deemed suitable (at least since the 11th century in Farsi, though with some notable exceptions); but to my mind, there's also more of a far eastern / american / californian sensibility at work in some of this poem.

Dupont Circle : In Washington, DC, the grid of the streets is designed with a series of "circles" (of which Dupont Circle is one), based (I vaguely recall) on a perhaps similar use of circles in Paris. Dupont Circle, as neighborhood, has always been one of the more bohemian / artistic / intellectual / yuppieish (an odd combination, that) neighborhoods in this city.

I'm just now recalling that in fact, I paid a precocious visit to the bookstore (half a block north of the circle) where, in course of this poem's imagery (and in course of writing it), I breakfasted (said bookstore including within it a bar / restaurant / cafe -- combo for mind & body). The bookstore visit to which I allude was when, at age 11, I travelled with my family on a cross-country train ride from California. We landed in Washington, DC -- and I wandered in (I feel fairly sure) to this particular [long-established, as I understand it] bookstore and bought for myself a volume of Khalil Gibran's poems.

2 Comments:

Blogger Hiren said...

Interesting lyrics... so it seems

Wed Feb 01, 03:04:00 AM PST  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

thanks Hiren.

btw, I'll add here a postscript about the metrics of this poem.

The poem is a bit unrigorous in one regard. It doesn't always follow the natural emphasis of words in its following of the beher. Stated otherwise, the beher [cadence] is mildly wrenched out of line by the natural accent that the words of some lines take. Stated yet another way, I'm not, in this poem, being completely slavish / dogmatic / rigid in how I apply this new (to me) principle of beher; I'm applying it in a way that definitely functions exactly in some parts of the line [i.e., at start & end], and functions in a slightly flexible (varying) way in the middle portion of the line.

;-)
d.i.

Wed Feb 01, 03:19:00 AM PST  

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