To write a peace poem

Two poems I wrote from my answers


Athena Owl along the Alon Road, Occupied Territories / West Bank, Israel
Athena Owl along the Alon road, Occupied Territories

Along the Alon road
near where we glimpsed
an Athena owl, a widening
of the road for cars to rest
and look out holds two old
olive trees together, friends.

Maps show new divisions.
Old maps recall old boundaries.
Stone fences, barbed wire
come and go. Land mines
lay sleeping. But the olive
branches don’t see these.

Standing guard by the road,
the two see one land: valleys,
wadis, and fields from here
to the Jordan’s distant shore.

—Michael Dickel ©2013

Originally published in The Second Genesis: An Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry (A.R.A.W.L.II, 2014).

While at Green Gulch Farm: Imperfect Haikai

Bell rings twice;
silence breathes out.
Zendo echoes.

Bell rings once;
gentle sound speaks:
stay or go.

Bell rings;
community chants.
Silent fog waits.

Sun-burnt patches of fog.
Sound may dispel clouds;
sea waves crash.

Water separates
into droplets reflecting light,
a loved one’s parting.

Soft sand underfoot,
yielding. Waves pound
packed sand.

Broken silence
dispels glistening swimmers
from their reverie.

Shadows fall, then rain.
Cold winds howl down
                                             the valley.
Tears drop, one by one.

Storm passes,
a lone figure stands on the beach.
It is time to leave.

Mist filters evening,
strolling through snow.
Inward-rolling fog.

…a thousand

Unending waves, eternal stone:
sparkling sea splashes.
One moment, a thousand

White-foamed waves
punctuate silence
deeper than mountain roots.

Evening mist
hides and reveals
mountain top.

Tendrils of fog
drop down.
Quail at our feet.

—Michael Dickel ©2011

Originally published in Sunrise from Blue Thunder (Pirene’s Fountain Press, 2011); this version has been lightly edited for the intended audience of this post.

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7 replies »

  1. I loved your teaching and especially loved both of your poems! They inspired the following poem:

    “Try to Imagine”
    (Raanana, March 26, 2019)

    Try to remember the feeling
    Of your cheek against your mother’s breast
    Or sitting in your father’s warm lap
    But if you can’t remember,
    Try to imagine.
    What does it feel like?
    Being wrapped in the safe protection
    Of those arms, nothing could harm you;
    How did that feel?
    Is there anything more you’d want or need?
    Is there anything more anyone’d want or need?
    Your friends or neighbors?
    The stranger passing you on the street?
    Your sworn enemy, his friends, or his family?
    Didn’t your enemy lay against his mother’s breast
    Or savor the warmth of his father’s lap?
    Didn’t he want to wrap his child
    In the safety of his arms?
    What is the word “enemy”
    But a tag we put on other people
    We don’t care about or hate
    And they put on us?
    But there is a thing that grows
    The more it is consumed
    And is worth the most
    When consumed by everyone;
    It lives by letting live,
    And its name is peace.


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