Ghazal Game #1
Think of the greatest love you’ve ever had ( ).
Write his/her name in the space provided_____________.
As long as you reiterate this name,
The semblance of this ghazal is complete:____________!
Don’t doubt, no matter what terror may come,
That God will fill your emptiness with Dear__________.
For me, Janette. For Dante, Beatrice.
For Rumi, Sham-y-Tabriz. And for you?_____________.
Space makes the greatest rhyme. Sufis know this,
In spite of their lust for someone just like_____________.
Now burn your useless books! You’ll learn much more
Inside schoolhouses of desire taught by_________________.
Is it so silly, making readers work?
Doesn’t most poetry ask you to find________________?
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here
To join (state your full name) and (state his/hers)________...”
Computer code, universal language,
Breaks down when translating the essence of____________.
Would you obsess over your petty shame?
Instead, substitute it with a kiss from________________.
All maps lead you to bliss. Your G.P.S.
Just estimates the time and distance to_______________.
Before the loggers come for the last tree,
Write this last line with a sharp knife: I ______________.
At this point, do you think you really chose____________?
Before you were born, you were chosen by____________!
It’s true, “The pen’s mightier than the sword.”
But what cuts off the poet’s hand? The sword.
Deconstructionists unscrewed handles and
Melted metal to understand the sword.
After the overthrow of the regime,
Newly elected leaders banned the sword.
Because it hurt children, as a father
I decided to reprimand the sword.
So hot in hell the holy warrior
Fed on his frozen heart and fanned the sword.
The victim’s mother stopped eating kebab.
She liked the meat, but couldn’t stand the sword.
Please excuse my use of “the sword.” It takes
Violent language to split apart this word.
Roger Sedarat is the author of two poetry collections: Dear Regime: Letters to the Islamic Republic, which won Ohio UP’s 2007 Hollis Summers’ Prize, and Ghazal Games (Ohio UP, 2011). His translations of classical and modern Persian poetry have recently appeared in World Literature Today, Drunken Boat, and roger: an art and literary magazine. He is an associate professor at Queens College, where he teaches poetry and literary translation in the MFA program.