Beatriz F. Fernandez

If you mean to write ghazals, my friend, then learn the ghazal rules—
Firstly, while all other poetic forms may drool, the Ghazal Rules!

Secondly, scour your dictionary (such a useful tool!),
for a word that serves as both noun and verb, for example: “rules.”  

Thirdly each couplet must be end-stopped, like a stubborn mule,
and not consort with any others—for violating these rules  

would lead to the chaos of enjambment, a trap for fools
who try it to improve the flow or follow narrative rules.

But that’s another poem. Fourthly you mustn't keep your cool
as you write of lust and longing, for in ghazals, PASSION rules.

And there are ghazals traditional and ghazals wild as wool,
but rhymes and refrains must end each couple of lines, as a rule.

Another guideline to follow—vague memory from poetry school,
that a ghazal must own at least five couplets, as per the rules.

A last note to self must read—be it ever so kind or cruel,
remember to include your own signature—that’s the final rule.

But a ghazal also has a built-in, thumb-to-nose, no-leg-pull rule,
which, like a bee’s impossible flight, takes joy in breaking all rules!


BEATRIZ F. FERNANDEZ is a university reference librarian in Florida.  She has read her poetry on WLRN, South Florida’s NPR news station, was the grand prize winner of the second annual Writer’s Digest poetry award, and was featured in the Latina Book Club blog. Her poetry can be found at Boston Literary Magazine, FLARE: the Flagler Review, Northern Liberties Review, Spark: a Creative Anthology, Verse Wisconsin, and Writer’s Digest, among others. She received a Pushcart Prize nomination in 2014 and her poetry chapbook, Shining from a Different Firmament, was just published by Finishing Line Press in 2015Contact her at