Poetry from Michael Dickel



from Touching the Dead

A moment looms large

but everyone

says to keep it small—

a pinpoint of light,

not a pretentious



Perhaps they are right,

these advisers, when

they counsel me to

keep my words down on

the floor with the dust

and debris swept up


by eager eyes on a

voyeuristic cruise

of the low domain.

There was, after all,

just a little fluid

smeared on the tiles. So


what if my pants were

wet at the knees from

his puke or piss that

escaped as the guard

slammed the riot stick

into him again


and again? The cloth

dried before he died.

I no longer held

him down when he stopped

breathing—between floors

I ran and ran, out


of breath myself,

a waist restraint use-

less in my left hand.

Counselors continue

to advise: deflate

dark recognition.



from Touching the Dead

But voices said: Too easy, too easy

from where you stand.

You have not touched our dead

or kissed the salty blood wounds.

Or buried your child every night,

buried your child deep in your fear,

deep in the mire below your basement

floor, to keep out the rats and brutes with guns

who crash through the door, who rape

as they cut apart the ruined remains.


You have not created a just order

in your world, the voices accuse.

Do not come to us for salvation.


No, I tell these voices. No,

my child is quite safe, it’s true.

How to say this? This, my guilt,

how to say this to you:

The knife wielders and club swingers,

room smashers and wrist cutters,

face hitters and rock throwers,

I guessed those were the ones

I could lock away. But


he fought against these—against the room,

against the leather restraints,

against the uniforms,

against the lock on the door,against the psychiatric intrusion,

Against feeding the machine,

the machine with the faceless How Many.


Tossed down by the guards,

the shouting at his head,

Listen, do you hear?

His grunts and gasps for air.

I thought it was justice.

Just bubbles in the red froth

from his mouth.

I turned away,

my slacks now wet

from kneeling.


You have not touched our dead

or buried your child, they said.

Do not come to us for salvation,

Too easy,

You have not touched

our dead or kissed and

buried your child every night,

buried your child

deep in the mire

below your basement floor,

brutes with guns

tear open

as they cut apart

this world.


Do not come to us for salvation.

We will not give you to it.



Dreams into words, but silence between

notes makes music—blue skies, red flowers.

A rhyme with something to do with love.

The contrast at the edge of meeting highlights

orange better than red: an opposite complement

to define. Marks form letters, white space shapes

words, words fill lines, lines stretch two dimensions

into infinity. Sound, air, breeze, fan the light

tickling behind my neck. Light, shadow, contrast

in shape and time and again, what? The chemical

exchange, electric spark in living tissue rises up,

a note heard, space recalled—falls back to spark,

exchanged, sung forth. The cerebellum, cortex,

amygdala, corpus callosum—parts create more

than can understand. The whole generates only part

of the meaning.



What time and where your parking meters expire

really determines nothing in the scope of walking

down the streets where gunmen rob late night stragglers

staggering, star gazing along their Uptown nights

as the news bureau crates fear mongering and sells it

to advertisers for suburban life-styles and desperate

housewives watch themselves on tv, wishing they

could fulfill their own fantasies as well as the men

who control their lives fulfill nothing, nothing full,

nothing filled in the hyper tension drive of electronic

disguise, true crimes that keep us behind our locked

doors; I mean, who cares about parking tickets

at a time like this, the end time of end times,

millennium of millennia, Armageddon dawning

dark, dreary, disgusted amid soldiers falling

from skies without parachutes like chickens

exploding on impact, grounded at last; our

patrimony patriotic patter sputters away

to nothing more or less than your parking meters

expiring where and at what time, really

determining nothing, no scope, no walking,

no street, no gunmen, no staggering stragglers,

no gazing stars, no night, no news, no fear, no sale.


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).

4 thoughts on “Poetry from Michael Dickel

  1. Pingback: January Impressions and Expressions | Fragments of Michael Dickel

  2. I’ve just installed Dolphin Browser on my iPhone, and love it bsaucee of it’s similarity to my standard browser, Chrome. However, one issue has cropped up: I cannot seem to successfully activate bookmarklets. Is this just a feature I’m missing, or is it missing?Thanks!

  3. Pingback: Synchronized Chaos, January 2013: Innovation | Synchronized Chaos

Comments are closed.