O is for Obfuscate …
I knew a guy once whose claim to fame is that he was never lost. That’s saying something in the world of topographic maps and surveys.
“Never lost?” I asked.
“Never,” he assured me.
“Not ever?” I continued.
“Never ever,” he said with conviction. He nodded succinctly. “I might have been a bit bewildered now and again, but never ever lost.”
How can you argue with that? I mean, I could, but I won’t. I’ve also done my share of editing for archaeological reports, and I can attest to this fact: these guys are the masters of rendering data unclear and unintelligible. My absolute favorite sentence starter is “Some say…” Who says? “People say…” What people? Who are these people and why are they running around and saying this stuff that, I can be 98% certain, is not true? The only thing more fun than that is when pit houses suddenly become self-aware and start “doing” things for the excavators. Some folks need to come into the air conditioning a little longer before they sit down to write a report. Some folks? Who are these folks? I’ll narrow my eyes and assure you, THEY know who they are …
But, then we come to authors who ply their trade in fiction. Sometimes they strive to obfuscate in the spirit of plot development. Sometimes, though, it goes too far, and the reader gets lost, or the author clouds the story with extraneous characters or waits until the end to introduce the most pivotal characters of all … Grrr…. There’s a fine line between clouding the picture for the sake of building suspense and pissing off your reader because you’ve left them confused and lost and angry. It’s that last bit, I don’t like. I’ve read two books lately that have made me doubt whether or not I’m an intelligent, nay, sentient, being. It got muddled and the muddled-er it got, the more frustrated I got. I’m stubborn (I said that in a comment in a Facebook group), and I don’t like it when I’m forced to throw up my hands (for the sake of sanity) and give a pass on the finishing of a book. I mean, where’s the fun in that? But the two books I shan’t mention in this blog post frustrated me to the point that they are now on the free paperback exchange at the Craig Public Library. Maybe someone else will have better luck.
So, today’s poem will be all about darkening and confusing, and bewildering and such. I’m writing this post in Room 209 of the Historic Anchorage Hotel in—come on, guess!—Anchorage, Alaska. I’m on the celebrated 2nd floor, but NOT in the two most-haunted of the rooms (those would be 215 and 217). Let’s see if any of these folks have a sense of humor. Here’s hoping that they do…
Poetry Form: Ghazal
The Ghazal is a very interesting poetry form and it exists throughout the whole of the Moslem world having originated as an Ottoman poetry form. As the Moslem religion spread throughout the Ottoman Empire, so also did their poetry.
Mostly the Ghazal is far from religious in its subject matter and indeed the form appears to be blessed with an abundance of erotica. This is probably why the form became very popular in Europe in the 1800’s and then later in the US with the “Flower Power” generation.
Unfortunately the essential elements have been lost with these “Modern Ghazals” and now is the time to revive them or at least make it known what those essentials were.
The Ghazal is a series of couplets each one capable of standing alone as a poem. The first couplet is called the matla or the place where the heavenly body rises. This sounds like a pretty good start for a poem.
This couplet also sets the meter of the poems and the rhyming pattern. In the true Ghazal, the last word/s of both lines of the first couplet must be the same and similarly, the last line of the following couplets must also end with the same word/s.
Modern Ghazals seem only to rhyme these last words.
(I’ll be following the ancient and traditional form for this poem)
The key lies solid, gleaming upon the table, no need to obfuscate
The meaning and touch of bright metal is sharp, no desire to obfuscate.
Cold in my hand, it scrapes the wooden surface, digging
Real in my fingers, no want to obfuscate
Dimly I turn to the door, my step falters
Wood ‘neath my feet, no passion to obfuscate.
Metal slides smoothly, embracing its lover
Key in the lock, no mention to obfuscate.
Door will swing open, alone I will enter
Light in the window, illuminates, not obfuscates
Lonely this place, dark and dim with no other
Sadness in poetry, and motion, to obfuscate.