Two sides of the pepper tree downed by wind. ©2013 Michael DickelArt

January Impressions and Expressions

Weather, publication, travel

Weather: Wind, Rain and Snow

January entered stormily into Jerusalem, quite literally. By the end of the first week, several days of rain culminated in a windstorm with 100 km/h (56 mph) winds that took down several trees overnight on the 6th-7th. Our parking lot had a nice line of pepper trees along the edge, between our building and the next.

Two sides of the pepper tree downed by wind. ©2013 Michael Dickel

Two sides of the pepper tree downed by wind on Jan. 7, 2013. ©2013 Michael Dickel

The trees provided a nice green screen when looking out our living room window. A couple of big limbs—basically, two-thirds of the tree in front of our parked car—went down in the wind, and a large limb in another tree. Fortunately, the wind blew the trees away from the car and into an empty driving area into the parking lot of the next building, so no damage to any cars or buildings.

The rain continued for the next couple of days, until it started freezing into sleet on Wednesday, the 9th, and snow overnight. The 10th was a snow day, with 3-5 inches of snow in Jerusalem. The wet heavy snow took down more trees and limbs, probably many of those having been damaged by the wind a few days before. Another tree went and more limbs went down in our parking lot border of green.

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Now, when we look out the window, we see the bare stone walls of the building next door, the neighbors windows and clothes’ lines, a few balconies used as storage for the winter. It’s not as nice as the ferny green pepper trees with their red peppercorns.

Publication: Poetry, Artwork, and Prose

Fortunately, publication of my writing and art has been less stormy, although some of the poems are dark. It’s been a good month, with two online journals that have previously showcased my work doing so again—Synchronized Chaos and Drash Pit. I appreciate the willingness of their editors to keep including me.

I’ve also heard from two journals that will be new venues for my work. The Indian River Review accepted a poem of mine and a short prose (fiction) piece has been tentatively accepted, pending final decisions (that is, in the final running as the fiction goes to a second-tier review, I guess). It would be cool to have both pieces in one journal. Decades Review has accepted two black and white photos of mine for future publication. Great news this stormy  winter.

Four poems appear in the January Synchronized Chaos

Cristina Deptula, editor of Synchronized Chaos, has once again generously published a nice selection of my poetry and digital artwork. The poems are from the darker veins of my  writing, brought out in January in no small part as a response to the Sandy Hook shootings, the gang rape-murder of the young medical student in India, the US high school athletes’ gang rape of an unconscious girl, and other nasty bits of muck floating in the news. My poetry in  this issue, according to Cristina’s description on Synchronized Chaos‘ home page, in

…a set of four finely-wrought poems … [Michael Dickel] portrays issues of the modern world, from violence to inequality to the emptiness of urban life, with unflinching honesty.

Be prepared.  Here is the list of poems (all of the links go to the same page, where all four appear):

Three art works appear in January Synchronized Chaos

The art work is more uplifting, if you will. All three works are photomontages worked with  Adobe® PhotoShop® to appear more like painting. One is David Broza (Israeli musician, singer-songwriter), another a series of images pulled into a montage relate to Josephine Baker in France, and a final one of the  street where I used to live in Minneapolis during a summer storm (ok, that’s a little dark, but perhaps the image is more art than dark). Click here to view all three images.

This is what the editor of Synchronized Chaos wrote about the artwork :

This month, Michael Dickel provides us with three visual pieces—striking, colorful, and powerful… Two of the paintings (sic) are inspired by a pair of very innovative musicians: one from the past (Parisian legend Josephine Baker) and another from the present (Israeli singer David Broza).

David Broza, Masada Concert, 2007 ©2013 Michael Dickel

David Broza, Masada Concert, 2007 ©2013 Michael Dickel

Two pieces in Drash Pit

Another journal editor that has been kind enough to publish more of my work is Neena Husid, of Drash Pit. There you will find She’s Got the Beat: Trusting that there will be celebrations and joy to come, a short essay of mine–a Dvar Torah (discussion of Torah, the Hebrew Scriptures) about Miriam that goes with the weekly Torah Portion (Parsha Beshalach) that was read this past Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath). It helps to add balance to the darker poems mentioned above. My poem,  In the Beginning…, also appears in the January edition of Drash Pit.

Please follow the links and read my poems, view my images, read the short essay. Leave a comment here if you do  (see below for a more detailed invitation for comments).

Travel: Red Sea, Coral Reefs and Wilderness

This last weekend, the Jewish Sabbath was Shabbat Beshalach, the Shabbat when the portion of Torah (The Five Books of Moses, or The Hebrew Scriptures) about the Israelites crossing the Reed Sea, or Red Sea is read. The  essay in Drash Pit mentioned above speaks about this portion, in part.

Eilat, Israel

Befitting that story, my family and I went down to Eilat, Israel, on the Red Sea last week on Wednesday and stayed through Shabbat (Saturday). We drove down from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, past Masada (where, in 2007, we had watched David Broza in concert and I took the photos that became the artwork shown above), and then through the Arava to Eilat.

Thursday, we visited the Oceanarium, a complex of aquariums, outdoor tanks, and an underwater observatory.

Underwater observatory (Oceanarium), Eilat, Israel. ©2013 Michael Dickel

Underwater observatory (Oceanarium), Eilat, Israel. ©2013 Michael Dickel

The underwater observatory, built in the 1970s, goes down into a reef that was encouraged to grow around it with artificial infrastructure. It is on the edge of a natural reef, part of a national park preservation area. One enters the observatory from the end of a dock, goes into the round building, and finds first a lobby cafe and gift shop area. In the center, two spiral staircases take visitors down (one) and back up (the other).

At the bottom of the stairs is a large, underwater observation room. Around the sides are heavy glass windows that allow visitors to view fish, coral, and other underwater wildlife. We, the visitors, are in the “aquarium.” The fish might well be watching us, for that matter.

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After spending some time in the aqua-lighting of the observation windows, we ascended the exit stairs. From the windows in the lobby, where we paused for a coffee, the Red Sea, the Red Mountains of Jordan, the Eilat Mountains of Israel, and the mountains above Taba, Egypt, are visible. On a very clear day, the thin line of mountains to the South and East rise from Saudi Arabia.

After coffee, we took a glass bottom boat ride from the Oceanarium dock. The boat, which has windows on the side of its narrow keel next to small passenger benches, allows another stunning vista of the reef. The natural park area has a lane of buoys that delimit a boat lane. Several tour boats follow it to give visitors a view of the reef and its inhabitants.

The Arava, Israel
Parrot fish from above the water, seaside cafe dock. ©2013 Michael Dickel

Parrot fish from above the water, seaside cafe dock. ©2013 Michael Dickel

Friday, after coffee on a dock where we could watch colorful reef fish and parrot fish swimming alongside us, we drove out to the southern Arava (Wilderness) area of the Negev Desert. Winter temperatures that day only rose to the 70s, and some drops of rain even fell (the average annual rainfall is about 30mm). It was great.

We drove up along a gravel road in a Nahal (Wadi in Arabic, or gulch, flood plain, dry river bed) to a parking area a short way up into the mountains. From there we followed a “family” path to a natural formation called “Amram’s Pillars.” These indeed look like beautiful pillars, some round and smooth, some almost inscribed as millennia of rain and wind carved the tan and rosy sandstone into mysterious hieroglyphics and sculptures.

Vivid and dusky hues paint the whole area, from dark basalt outcroppings, to washed away layers of sedimentary sandstone colored red, white, tan, ochre, and even green by minerals. The contrasting hills, washes, and gravel deposits of the desert always amaze me, and here a genius of abstract expressionism seems to have painted the canvas.

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The layered stripes often drain their colors over the rock below them, especially the red, which seems particularly soluble in water. The running colors only add to the impression of a painting. The smoothed erosion, often regular and rounded, but sometimes as irregular as writing, suggests design, intent, hidden meaning.

The many areas like this that I have seen in the Arava really seem to me to be poetic landscapes. Stunningly impenetrable, while lending a sense of near-comprehension—this landscape offers only one way to enter it psychically: through the colors of awe.

Please leave comments

I hope that you will read some (dare I hope all?) of the newly published writing and take a thoughtful look at the digital artwork linked here, as well as considering what I wrote in this blog and the photos illustrating it.

If you do read or look, and if this blog or what you read or see inspires, provokes, or excites some spark for you, please let me know in a comment below.

What do you think of my dark poems in this month’s Synchronized Chaos? Do my artwork images in Synchronized Chaos suggest music, mood, or something else to you?

What are your thoughts about Miriam, redemption (personal or otherwise), or Parsha Beshalach? Is my Drash Pit essay consistent with your own ideas?

What thoughts come to mind as you read the blog and view my photos from the Red Sea and the Arava area of the Negev Desert? Does this fit your images of Miriam by the sea or the Israelites wandering the desert?

Please leave your comments, suggestions, questions—join the conversation, make this blog interactive. Thank you.

Parrot fish from above the water, seaside cafe dock. ©2013 Michael Dickel

Parrot fish from above the water, seaside cafe dock. ©2013 Michael Dickel

9 replies »

  1. A peek into your world. It was interesting. I remember going in an underwater observatory at Hurghada, Egypt. But none of the pics I clicked were as clear as the ones you have posted here.


  2. sounds like you have been very busy. I especially enjoyed your photos of the underwater observatory.

    Congratulations on all of the publications! I admire those, such as yourself, who have the patience and perseverance to submit your work to various publications. I don’t know why, but it is so overwhelming for me.


    • No, of course, Miriam sings her song after the cross the Reed Sea (Red Sea) and finds water for the Israelites as they travel. However, when driving from Jerusalem, we passed the Dead Sea.

      The acoustics for the concert were great–the concert stage was set up at the base of Masada, with the towering hill and fortress walls behind.


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