Helen Perry

Ghazal IV

Drunk with pride is the father, old soak, to see a knight serenade
His barmaid daughter and seize her to dance a risqué fanforanade.

Of the dank-tavern wenches a road-weary biker could target,
Who could guess he would seek so homely a milquetoast to enfilade?

"Unworthy mooncalf," she sighs tossing chaplet of roses aside,
Bust parting tankards aligned on the bar, breaching her palisade.

Arm clad in leathers he hails the maid, catching the wreath like a quoit
On a pin, ring on a finger, to this girl in dungarees and plaid.

Queen of the night, her fingerless gloves smelling just faintly of beer,
His calloused hand through the hatch reassures, coaxing her from the shade.

She rises numinous, lambent—highlights done that very afternoon—
Gaze fixed on the storm that lashes the glass, yearning for an escapade.

But the jukebox is laden, and he likes to dance in cruiser boots
so they twist until the last shellac disc and leave at music's fade.

And groggy Pop cheers the man in goggles and patch-elbow jacket
Who shelters his flame from the rain: "Here's to him who drinks lemonade!"

And the saloon doors flaking paint swing behind the soon-to-be-weds,
Wind howling like Harleys dragging cans in conjugal cavalcade.


Helen Perry is a British writer and journalist based in Nicosia, Cyprus.