Poetry from Michael Dickel



pushes his cart down Glen Ellyn streets—

bells call on faith, ring his path, haunt him.

They peal the small farm and lumber business

he left behind in Italy. Coming here?


The worst mistake I ever made. These rich people,

fah! They sharpen more than anybody,

they just don’t hear me. Steel strikes bronze,

calling out as he pushes on.



Beware false prophets of war. Disquiet permeates the land. Two shadow armies have taken command, their soldiers drifting in and out of our daily lives barely noticed while their officers send dispatches of despair breaking across all fronts. Wave upon wave, these armies send dutiful servants into battle. They crash upon every shore. Sometimes they carry the day with them. Sometimes, we must give way to the rising tide of sorrow. Drowning, Arnold, stands remembering at Dover Beach, lacks resistance—all about despair, depression—one army from east, one from west, each beast, none rest. Shadow armies. Ashcroft in the night. Governments’ secret armies of terror. Panetta’s hidden delight. Armies of secret evidence, reliable reports, and covert actions. Contested and embattled, our identities attempt to unite around more than America (us) as the transnational identity (them) of with us or against us Bush. Exceptional America the tainted beauty. Ah, Mr. Hughes, let America be America again.



We are ocean: in our blood, within our cells, around

each cell; sea salts ripple through, life to tide pools.

Each molecule, every atom, fertile ground,

floating in water, suspended in the rise and fall

as on a raft, but for the body, so many sounds call.

And I reach down to touch below, us, this living mud-mound.

Those who swim against the rip-tide become fools.


From the bottom of the Salt Sea that some call Dead,

round clusters of salt rise like hale from a great thunder storm.

Crystals blaze light, a thousand reflections that cannot be read—

some sand caught in a mud mold, nearly colored gold.

Squares of chemicals bonded into spheres of wonder, bold

harmonies of light transparent, translucent, seemingly led

in overtones to sing alongside confused melodies, the warm

sea lifting us to weightlessness under the stars. Voices whisper.


Many languages from many tongues, many tongues per nation,

the choirs’ songs a caterwauling call of difference, exclusion,

inclusion, collaboration, competition, cooperation,

jazz, folk, classical, religious, secular, avant-garde, new

cacophony of naked, starving, crazy minds that flew

dancing and crashed in the physicality of some sensation

that might be called communication. Each lover’s verb fusion,

each child’s adjective an aspect of the whole that we cannot form,

ein sof,” that is, without end. “Sof sof.” Finally. Finally, no rules.



The bus slugs along modern highway number one,

but the path echoes back to a time of flint tools

and—where once groups of newly terrestrial bipeds

climbed down from the Baka’a ridge to the sea

and caravans wound through rock to markets—

grumbling diesels struggle up the mountains

with old cargoes of rock and timber and new

goods, hidden in steel boxes, for new markets.


I visited the watch repairman again last week.

His lumpy hands dexterous with tweezers that pop

watches open and reveal their inner works, he

checks the battery—it works, but the watch does not.

The clocks on his wall each tell a different story,

some refusing daylight savings time, some stopped

at an idiosyncratic moment, some on time and ticking.

The old man behind the counter wears his hours on his face


but his eyes show an inner working, iconoclastic as

the visages of stopped clocks. What sort of watchmaker

lets a clock stop and others rebel against industrious light?

How can each clock show its own time, some running,

some holding still as though waiting to tell something

no longer quite remembered? Only one of the three watches

I took to him runs again. I left with a new watch, though.

Time is slippery in the watchmaker’s world.


The other day I watched you reading. This morning

I saw your same face sleeping. Once, right after we made love,

your eyes shone with secret seasons. I recall on our first

evening together leaning on a railing speaking of much

and nothing to jazz music, somewhere near the Baka’a ridge.

An elderly poet gave me flint tools from that ridge.

You and I found a flint tool ourselves last week, or the week

before. Each stopped clock tells its story, eventually.


All time lumbers like this bus, up and down hills, unwinding

the paths others used to walk. Each stop holds a memory dear

to someone, somewhere. The watchmaker knows his craft:

Each clock, its own statement. Time carries us at an unreliable pace.



penetrated. tumultuous. prism.

(fract(a(ll)ure)d) perspective (pre)viewed(post)

reified atom. sphere probability.

distributed. (in)equal(ity). particulate

(con(sum)ption) conspicuous absence

((dis(covered)un)likely). (hood(ed)).

reptile brain. monkey mind    .   sing-

(u)larity quant(um(atativ(e))quality)

fingered e=mC square(d). (root of

i). hemolytic. e(motion)al (v(amp)(pyre)).

fun(e)real erotica. (p(last)ic)ized.

battery acid. free (pa(pyr(e))us). sc(roll)

inserted. numismatic mnemonic

m(ark)er. m(ask) (dis(guise)d) of.

stretch.ed (fun)icular. (fun)iculus.

moment to (mo(me(a)nt)). annum to annum.

to empty. final. breath. exhaled. into.

night sky. (kaleid(o(colloid(collide

(a)scop(e))ic))). nacreous. time.

echoes. spinal. slippage. Into


Michael Dickel’s prize-winning poetry, stories, & photographs have appeared in journals, books, & online—including: SketchbookZeek, Poetry MidwestNeon Beamwhy vandalism?, & Poetica Magazine. He lives and works in Jerusalem at the moment. His latest book of poems is Midwest / Mid-East: March 2012 Poetry Tour ( http://www.amazon.com/Midwest-Mid-East-March-2012-Poetry/dp/1105569136).

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