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Rhymeless in Manama

My UK friend said, “Rhyme is old,
you need to venture free and bold.”
My Turkish friend said, “Rhyme’s a must,
a rhymeless bard deserves no trust.”
But I found out I needn’t choose
I better leave it to my Muse:
she knows this poem needs to rhyme
with measured phonemes set to time.
It seems to be a modern curse:
the spread of bland and fractured verse.

.

.

Pacing in the Park

Twelve years ago, or thereabouts
And add some months, more give than take
I walked in circles in the park
And puffed on cigs without a break.

I thought upon exams and grades
For did I fail? – what utter ache!
My eye was cold, my heart was bold
My whole career was put at stake.

With numbers dancing in a whirl
My head was full of digits still.
A text came in: I did alright,
My work at last had fit the bill.

Oh joy of joys, oh merry leaps
Oh lease on life, begone the gloom!
My back now straight, with merry gait
Apocalypse no longer loomed.

And now, I’m back in that green park
I’d rather let those shadows lie
I hear my kids call from afar
They drown my thoughts in joyful cries.

.

.

Wael Almahdi is a poet from the island of Bahrain. He has been a dentist for 12 years. He has also worked in English Arabic translation for 20 years. His poem “Rain” is slated to appear in the print edition of Arablit Quarterly. He can read a number of languages including Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, French, and Esperanto. 


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15 Responses

  1. Monika Cooper

    “I better leave it to my Muse.” I concur with that strategy. Every poem finds its own way and, ironically enough, “Rhymeless in Manama” needs to rhyme.

    I’m also glad to have the anguish and anxieties of student days behind me. Parenthood has its own moments of anxiety but it’s much more characterized by peace, fruition, and joy, as the last stanza of “Pacing in the Park” expresses beautifully.

    Line two, stanza two, of “Pacing in the Park”: you might consider changing the phrase to “if I failed?” or “should I fail?” Either of those sounds somewhat more natural to me than what you have now.

    I enjoyed them both. Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Roy Eugene Peterson

    When I am in the writing zone, I attribute it to my Muse and am always pleasantly surprised with the results (at least pleasant in my view). I was worried “Rhymeless…” was going to be a cursed blank verse, but was so thankful it came out the way it did with the conclusion that it would have been “bland and fractured verse.” “Pacing in the Park” brought back memories of my final exam days.

    Reply
  3. Paul Freeman

    Hi, again Wa’el. Yes, that muse does tell us which way to jump. I wrote about the sunken ship Endeavour in both rhyme and free verse a while back and that muse urged on both versions

    I enjoyed your poems. The paper chase was everything when we were students, and now we wonder what the fuss was all about.

    May I add my own suggestion to Monika’s – ‘for had I failed’, the ‘if’ being read in.

    And may I add my own suggestion that you consider changing the last line of ‘Pacing in the Park’ to ‘… in joyful cry’, otherwise ‘…with joyful cries’. I think ‘cry’ works as a noncount noun in the former, as long as your poetic licence hasn’t expired. I’m sure others may have a view on this.

    By the way, Wa’el, I wrote a sonnet about ‘The Tree of Life’, in Bahrain after reading your ‘Delmon’s Progeny’, though I left out the camels that were munching on its branches – fortunately it’s the most resilient of trees. The poem is entered for a competition at the moment, but I’ll see about posting it on SCP once the competition is over – if the submissions’ board finds it worthy.

    Thanks for the reads.

    Reply
    • WAEL Almahdi

      Sounds awesome Roy. Can I see it privately? I would love that

      Reply
    • WAEL Almahdi

      Btw it’s an honor to have been indirectly involved in your creative process

      Reply
      • Paul Freeman

        Thank you. Sometimes we have memories of places just below the surface that need just that little nudge to re-emerge.

  4. Paddy Raghunathan

    Wael,

    There was a time when I believed poetry ought to be written in meter and rhyme alone. I still favor metered rhyme, and 99.9% of my poems are written in rhyme and meter. So, it’s a real pleasure to read your poems. You write with sincerity, and joy.

    Bt I’ve also read some free verse that have touched my heart, and have myself dabbled in writing a few…very few. I had to, because I couldn’t restrain my muse.

    But for the most part, my muse directs me to write metered-rhymed verse only. Long live the “meter-rhyme muse” in all of us!

    Keep writing.

    Best regards,

    Paddy

    Reply
  5. WAEL Almahdi

    Thank you for your kind words Paddy. I write in meter and also unrhymed and unmetered, depending on the subject. Maybe we can correspond?

    Reply
  6. Rohini sunderam

    Wael!
    How did we never meet! I love your poems and the fact that it’s metered means your muse is alive and well. I left Bahrain a year ago and miss it immensely.

    Reply
  7. Phil S. Rogers

    Agreeing with Paddy, some free verse can be meaningful and inspiring to read, but perhaps because of my age, I feel there is no substitute for rhyme and meter. They help to ‘frame’ the writer’s thinking and connect with the reader.

    Reply
  8. C.B. Anderson

    Two more lively poems, Wael, I doubt I have ever read. I do wonder, however, where you learned your technical skills. Bahrain is a long way from England. Your English is idiomatically perfect, and your lines fairly crackle with energy, while they are laden with coherent thoughts.

    Reply
    • WAEL Almahdi

      I learned English in America as a child. Then a lot of nerdy reading! Hahaha. Really appreciate your encouraging words C.B.!

      Reply

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