Charles Martin


My Last Ghazal

“Why must you write your ghazals with that dreadful thing at the end?
That rhyming phrase? It just spoils the whole thing at the end!”

As you set down each couplet, the rules of the game insist on
A free gift of rhyme that you must bring at the end,

Although it’s left up to you to select which gift you will offer,
Either a subtle ping or a coarse kaCHING! at the end.

This one requirement should give you nothing but pleasure,
Unlike a scorpion, with its venomous sting at the end.

Nor should you think of it as a fatal ambush or trap,
Like Flash caught in the web of merciless Ming at the end.

Just think of how, as a child riding the merry-go-round,
You would reach out in joy to seize the brass ring at the end!

Or think of the blue diamond you gave one belovèd at parting:
—No one objects, after all, to a little bling at the end.

For the game of verses is always a game played by two lovers;
Shahid surely yearned for one last fling at the end.

And what of the poet who, having exhausted all options,
Wishes, nevertheless, to take wing at the end?

His name, glimpsed in a mirror, might be Urdu or Turkish:
And so Nitram Selrahc rises to sing at the end.


purpleLCharles Martin‘s latest book of poems is Signs & Wonders, published in 2011 by Johns Hopkins University Press. His previous book, Starting from Sleep: New and Selected Poems, was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Award of the Academy of American Poets in 2003.  His verse translation of the Metamorphoses of Ovid received the Harold Morton Landon Award from the Academy in 2004. In 2005, he received an Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He currently teaches in the School of Letters at the University of the South.