Home > Poetry > Instructional Ghazal
Published: Wed Jul 1 2009
Wosene Worke Kosrof, The Inventor V (detail), 2022, acrylic on linen. Courtesy of Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
Instructional Ghazal

beginning on a line by Misty Harper

1: on lying

You will want to make the corners of the mouth
very dark, so the teeth appear asleep and silent inside the mouth.

2: on breathing

Even coming softly the wind rattles the sills.
The windows whistle a song in parting, like the mouth.

3: on swallowing

Take only the smallest bodies with your tongue: accept
the muscled rules you must maintain inside the mouth.

4: on kissing

I felt your nose like a plum in the dark. Suddenly
I was swimming—unable to breathe or see the mouth.

5: on tying

There are three ways you can teethe and three
knots: the shoelace, the noose, and the mouth.

6: on loving

If his stomach is the surest path to a man’s heart,
you must be sure to take him by the mouth.

7: on closing

In spite of tradition, I’m leaving it open:
[place any name you want in my mouth]

David Welch has published poems in journals including Kenyon Review Online, AGNI, TriQuarterly, and West Branch. Poetry Editor for ACM, he lives in Chicago where he teaches creative writing and literature and develops literacy outreach programming at DePaul University. He also has poems published or forthcoming in Quarterly West, Indiana Review, Subtropics, Pleiades, and Helen Burns Poetry Anthology: New Voices from the Academy of American Poets’ University & College Prizes, 1999–2008. He received his MFA from the University of Alabama. (updated 4/2013)

His AGNI poem “Instructional Ghazal” is reprinted in Best of the Web 2010, published by Dzanc Books.

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