“Michael Dickel’s new book is an explosive tour de force. From Breaking News to all that shivers beneath the surface, it takes us on a visceral ride as the rockets are falling through screaming surfaces, tunnels cease fires and death tolls; rocketing all night through missiles, mortars, sensors, sirens, shadows and eclipses, shelters and hope. As night slopes through shivers of light, War Surrounds Us will rocket your world with an escalation of unprecedented gravity.” —Adeena Karasick This Poem (2012), Salomé: Woman of Valor (2014), The Medium is the Muse: Channeling Marshall McLuhan (2014)
My new book, War Surrounds Us, has been released by Is a Rose Press. Below this is the title poem from the book. Here’s an interview podcast link: Let’s Get Lit: War Surrounds Us, the poetry of Michael Dickel. And here’s a written interview (with another poem, “Again”) link: Johntext United Kingdom, Interview with Michael Dickel.
War Surrounds Us
We have been in the north for a while, in Tzfat, on the mystical mountain across from Meron. When we arrived, rockets still flew toward Jerusalem— one the evening we left, another a few days later. The IDF continued to pound Gaza, soldiers remained in embattled streets, engineers destroyed tunnels, civilians died.
Slowly, our son’s discussion of rockets shifts and he builds fewer with his blocks and Legos, although they have not totally disappeared even though
now a five-day ceasefire extension added to a seventy-two hour one that held join with talks in Cairo that pretend enough seriousness to end this battle.
That will continue…
…it doesn’t stop.
These few weeks we have swum with Palestinians in the Sea of Galilee, smiled with Arabs as our children’s ice creams melted in the summer sun. We rode tour boats where we danced with Arabs and Jews.
Today we picked apples in the Golan within sight of the Syrian border and heard the rumbling war there, booming cannon and mortar echoing across heated hills. Our son overhears our discussion with an orchard worker— who moved here to raise his kids outside of the city— and our boy wants to see the booms. We tell him they are over the hills, which satisfies him for now. He happily rides in the trailer behind the tractor on our way to the rows of ripe Galas and Sandras overlooking the Quneitra Crossing.
What will we say to him about his time to join the army?
The wind blew strong from behind. And after the apples, sitting in shade, playing with our young children, we found three peacock feathers and a goose quill on the ground. As we drove away, the thunder rumbled a few rounds from the right, a few from the left.
viii We ate lunch in a Druze village—a table full of salads, majadra, chicken, lamb, hummus—a smiley-face with Hebrew and Arabic for the name of the café. Out front, parked next to our car, a Massey-Ferguson tractor. It reminds me of rural Minnesota, this tractor outside the cafe—like Hinckley, site of the Great Fire that glowed on skylines a hundred miles distant and melted railroad tracks—it’s like being there, sitting at the A&W with a root beer float and watching.
Except for the Arabic, the Hebrew… the thunder of war just over the horizon.
“The poems [in War Surrounds Us] about one of the most profound conflicts between people are rooted in the everyday life of the author and his family who live in Jerusalem. Michael doesn’t take sides. Arabs and Jews are represented equally. Through portraying his children he poses larger questions about how we are going to deal with the Other in our lives in the future…The words connect you to your body through emotions: the last lines of each poem literally give me goosebumps.” —Elena (Customer Review)
Publication: July, 2015
Michael Dickel’s third book of poetry collects poems he wrote during the Israel-Hamas conflict of summer, 2014. The poems evoke a resistance to the violence all around, and make acute observations of its effects on family and daily life—from the provocations before, through the disruptions of rockets falling on Jerusalem and devastating loss of human life during attacks on Gaza, and passed the line of failed cease fires to an uneasy truce. The closely observed incongruence of daily life while war rages comes through as the poet witnesses his young son’s responses and considers the question of the future we want versus the one that is coming.