by Eric Torgersen
Call me Ishmael tonight.
— Agha Shahid Ali
Can you hear it somewhere, Shahid, this groundswell of ghazals?
You, who put us under the spell of ghazals?
At Iowa they’re set to sweep the prizes.
Even at Brown, a sleeper cell of ghazals.
Is it just the “oriental” that we love,
the faintly foreign taste and smell of ghazals?
Many an aging empire has produced
a flowering, before it fell, of ghazals.
You were not taken till you’d made your generous,
mortal, lasting last farewell of ghazals.
Eric strokes the lamp and makes his wish:
sing in me, lost Ishmael of ghazals.