The Bed, A Ghazal


The other morning my younger son asked me two questions that were important.

1. What is the statistical likelihood that a person will marry the person they are dating in highschool versus the odds that one will move away versus the likelihood that they will break up?
I’m packing his sandwich, I have one earring on, I’m trying to figure out the most efficient way to simultaneously pull on stockings and run the blender to make a smoothie. But the honor of being asked a question makes me willing to stop everything and think. And of course, whenever I stop everything and really think about a question, I realize I don’t know the answer and had better not guess. I said I didn’t know.

He said, “Okay, well I’d say 17%” I told him you really can’t just make up statistics–you’d have to follow a bunch of highschool sweethearts and see the results.  He nodded, and moved to question two:

2. What is the difference between coveralls and overalls?

Sometimes he lobs me an easy one.

Long ago, when I was younger and dumber and thought I was smarter (thinking you’re really smart is pretty much the signature move of the dumb), I thought I was going to study form poems for a semester, know everything there was to know about them and then reject form altogether. Well shit.  What I discovered about writing in form was that when you are trying to force your ideas to fit a shape or to search for new meaning in a refrain as you re-use it, you discover truths you didn’t expect.  The incredible poet Walter Butts was my advisor. He gave me a list of books to read. He helped me write sonnets, villanelles, sestinas.  And re-introduced me to the ghazal. But writing a ghazal was too much. My dad would play ghazals driving around town. I would ask him to stop. He would explain the meanings. I would ask him to stop. But I’d think a lot about the lines. That’s the thing, right? We do hear our parents.

I scoured the whole Internet for the best way to explain ghazal writing to you and found this guide. That’s right.  Wiki how.

And this example by the incredible Patricia Smith.


It’s a good puzzle to play with.  Completely separately, check this out if you like. Baby needs botox.

And finally, the family.  In one place for a moment.  We’re a lot of ladies.  And a couple of dudes.


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