In December 2014, after 15 years of publishing The Ghazal Page, Gene Doty published his last issue. Matt Warren, his son, took over and kept The Ghazal Page going until summer 2019. These first appeared in the online journal.


In Anger

Judith Skillman

A nightmare lingers long afterwards. It can be caught by a glimpse
into dreamtime: a word, a look, a resemblance to hunger, glimpsed.

We stalk one another ceaselessly, as prey. Marriage, married long since.
The tulips shut tight in the yard — we bring them inside for a glimpse.

The ambient temperature causes them to open. For instance,
this: petals falling open in sequence, petals ragged, fallen, pollen-glimpsed.

Envy for the siblings’ well-traveled lives — Paris, Kyoto, rinsed
in sun. Here we occupy leather seats, watch evening news on TV, glimpse

a world locked in war. We see refugees who flee for a glimpse
of peace, a bit of food, cup of water, the kind word, its fragrance, glimpsed.


Judith Skillman

Of the sun, one winter afternoon —
the sun close to setting, one afternoon

after staring into a star too soon
and long before it disappeared: noon

the time when drought takes one
by surprise. And lessons, afternoons

with father, his solar physics — don’t
stare or you’ll go blind, eclipsed sun,

half sun, quarter sun, sun through pin-
hole camera, after all he was the sun

and the moon together — a web spun
of such sheerness, his disappearance.

Afterimages spring green and red, suns
float against closed eyes and afternoons.

From him — the Pater — must come afternoon.
What is it to be awake, else to mourn the One?

Sweet Rain

Judith Skillman

Tasted, smelled, rising from hot asphalt, sweet rain
in the street where a man works on his camper in the rain.

Like desire, felt less often now we are old, the joint pain
and fatigue competing with that other. Sweet rain

rising, lifting the dampened piano that hides its teeth
beneath a lid. Sweet rain, bird song, all the rain-wet

exigencies a house brings to bear. Valence, curtain,
scrubbed porcelain. Perhaps a mouse-brown rain,

pummeling the decking. Or a violet sky shines behind
cloud cover, dense with time. Where shall I go, rain,

how can I recall my only name? The man’s sweat
pays for no one’s poverty. Often I feel jealous, sweet rain,

of brother and sister — gone to Sweden, or France.
That’s the end of the story that began with a father’s rain-sweet

face, poor past, Holocaust. Let the locusts swarm, sweet rain
brings them down out of the dogwood, they die by sweet rain.

Nightshade Ghazal

Judith Skillman

Mother can no longer eat from the family of nightshades —
peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, all verboten, nightshades

make arthritis worse, stiffness cumbersome. In Hades
her girls lost half the year, down there, with the shades.

Call her Demeter. Still, mother can no more imbibe
of sunberry than drink a potion from foxglove, nightshade

the color of indigo, ink dripping into her heart. Eradicate
her sadness, her endless griefs, still she refuses nightshades

when the waiter comes in his stiff whites to take her order.
Explaining, as if it were a story, how it started. Nightshades —

once her favorite vegetables, completely gone, the diet
works for her — all is well in the garden of Eden, nightshades

aside. Mother me or what I will become in just two decades.
My own version of mother: her stories, her family, nightshade.

A Wolf in Her Violin

Judith Skillman

Her teacher once told her she had a wolf
inside the f-hole, beneath the G string, a sylph

note crying out when she played, like a cough
on the lowest line, and she — too young for wolves —

their red fur and strange eyes, believed half-
way through the scales, up and down, that wolf

pulling at meat. Those teeth testing how tough
the ground, how buried a voice might become — safe

enough to walk away from low-growing shrubs of
the sanctuary? Why bother listening for the other wolf,

which was gray? She’d place one note against itself,
try to tell where the animal lived. She believed

it was true, the endangerment. And how, when rough
things happened, as they would, a certain colored wolf

might emerge from the Saint-Saens. Or the bluffed
Paganini, Tchaikovsky, other concertos, riffs

blended like hard liquor, and she a girl or a wolf.
Not sure which — the sly red one, the one harsh woof.