A Ghazal of 7 Decades, 2 Weeks, 14 Couplets
Deserted, I find the time to initiate a ghazal
with a couplet each day in the fortnight at my disposal.
My first best friend showed me his when I showed him mine; we were five
or six; I wanted to touch it, but he knew that wasn’t all.
An affable boy puppy loves his mother’s girlfriend? What’s with
that? Because she bought me Judy’s “Palace” at the shopping mall?
My toy basset hound Morgan inseparable through our childhood
till put down unstuffed in a plushless closet off the back hall.
As a one-boy boy one-by-one I survived adolescence
without infatuations whether they came or not at all.
The apprentice poet I longed to suck but could only coach
makes love to me in verses still. Of him these lines I scrawl.
Rumi says I must not seek love but find and destroy the walls
I have built. Love is that abyss into which a blind man falls.
There were the days of suicide, disease, and icy shoulders:
I got married, dug my depression, and built a straight stonewall.
When did I beg forgiveness from my dear womanly wife who
needed more than just a pal, passion deeper than a pitfall.
I granted one twinkling star in a Paris Place a wish to be
chef étoilé, and I had entrées served in my shower stall.
In the kitchen my favorite aunt told my mother I simply
must be queer as she stirred the stewpot of Italian meatballs.
My parents acted to adore me through our long day’s journey
into the night I’m kept in the wings to watch their curtain calls.
My elder brother looks at walls so blankly now I see how
much he needed friends to love, no less some filial screwball.
In seventy years one love of my life, infernal angel,
embraced or afar bel homme sans merci hath me in thrall.
A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and in poetry. His essay “It’s Been a Long Time Coming” was featured in The New York Times “Modern Love” column in April 2016. Penha edits TheNewVerse.News, an online journal of current-events poetry. @JamesPenha