Category Archives: Digital Art

Chai equals eighteen

Double life

Michael Dickel

I mention an image that for some days now has been mounting in the sky of the revolution…Chantal’s image is circulating in the streets. An image that resembles her and does not resemble her. She towers above the battles.

—The Envoy in Jean Genet’s The Balcony

Your lost lover becomes a martyr—
a new revolutionary cause—
as the judge, an abandoned father,
conceives the child’s anarchistic calls.
Balconies crack, begin to falter
while the white rose petals start to fall,
and the soft dust now rises up to
cloud our bishop’s visionary realms.
So you saunter down to the twelfth bar.

It’s not very far for you to go—
down the road to the mausoleum,
where knowledge no longer wants to flow,
and wisdom the police chiefs promised
evaporates in blue cloudiness.
My forlorn lovers take one last look,
executioners seal sacred books,
and we dream that time will return us
again to where Chantal’s dance began.

We slip on ice in larch swamps covered
by fog, which obscures the histories
unfolding Irma’s worn tapestries—
lies of the victors, lies of the lost.
We change the general’s blank dance card,
then drop three photographers’ needles
into a heavily falling snow.
Your martyr turns into a lover—
an evolutionary lost-cause.

An old father begins his judgement
with many anachronistic flaws.
And Carmen’s petals flake slowly off
like snow melting in a beggar’s tale
of the freed slave’s magic midnight sun
where my desire has never failed.
And the rose petals? The bruised petals
from the flowers you took the envoy
cover the gravel under your feet.

At first, people were fighting against illustrious and illusory tyrants, then for freedom. Tomorrow they’ll be ready to die for Chantal alone.

—The Envoy in Jean Genet’s The Balcony

Note: In each of the two days I have been working on the poem above, the ones just before I am posting it, exactly 18 people visited this blog. The poem has four stanzas of 9 lines each, for 36 lines (double 18), not counting the epigrams from Genet. Each line has 9 syllables. The total number of syllables is 324, plus the 36 lines, equals 360—the number of degrees in a circle. Chai, Hebrew for life, equals 18 according to gematria. So, 36 lines, double 18, is double life. Or, perhaps, a double life. Genet may offer a key element to this equation.


1 Comment

Filed under Digital Art, Kabbalah, poems, Poetry, Politics, Writing

Jerusalem’s Garden — Hybrid

Jerusalem Imagined and Recalled

Michael Dickel

א — Aqsa / Dome of the Rock / Temple Mount | Digital art from photo | ©2017 Michael Dickel

Digital art from photo
©2017 Michael Dickel

Jerusalem perpetually escapes the present. It slips into strong recollection—memory with all its failings constructing histories and narratives in dusty layers under and around every stone chipped by human hand. Human-hand made narratives, full of political failings, slip Jerusalem into side pockets.

And Jerusalem also slips, paradoxically, into a weak, almost-timeless desire—imagination with all its lust polishing each dreamed-of rosy-limestone stair and wall to perceptual perfection. The desired Jerusalem, the imagined Jerusalem, the recalled Jerusalem, recollect Jerusalem into a cacophony of dissonant and contested cries.

Rabbis long ago understood the multiplicity of Jerusalem and wrote of Jerusalem below and Jerusalem above—meaning physical and spiritual. They have been taken to mean below as this world, the present, and to mean above as the spiritual realm, the world-that-is-coming—which could refer to heaven or could refer to the future: mundane, redemptive, or apocalyptic.

I take the words to mean Jerusalem imagined (above) and recalled (below), desire imagining Jerusalem and faulty images memorializing Jerusalem piece by piece, piecing themselves together to build this city that dissolves the present with its creation.

This garden I now write from also slips from the present to reside in a dual-space of a strong past and weak future, of an almost-absent present, of memory and desire, of recall and imagination. Like Jerusalem, it exists only in the mind—like the real toad’s imaginary garden, a thought-experiment generating genres too slippery to grasp.

And since the toad’s garden exists only as a mental construction, let it slide now into Jerusalem, along a stone path from one cobbled road in the Old City to another, an opening on the west of the alley suddenly revealing the garden, a glimpse of possibility unanchored by actuality.

I have imagined it there, for the moment, so that I might recall it here in this text, something abstractedly vague as the toad croaks then splashes into its reflexivity, a mirror-pool of psychology and absence, a mere pool of sociological and political ambivalence.

White jasmine flowers trumpet from their dark shrubbery, arching over the entrance from the alley, nearly hiding the portal as it covers the East wall of the garden. Oleander stretches up the wall that encloses the North side of the garden. Bougainvillea stretches up the South wall. On the West, trellises of grape vines. Nearer the ground, short hedges of neatly trimmed lavender and rosemary border the square garden. These all strive for a square of clear blue above, the imagined Jerusalem.

Now, in autumn, only the shrubbery and herbal hedges bloom. If it were spring, narcissus would be blooming. In winter, cyclamen and anemones. In summer, planted annuals—petunias, marigolds, sweet alyssum. The tended grass remains green all year.

In the center of the garden grow two trees. A lemon tree wants to spread its reputation as the Tree of Life, but January fruits give it away. Next to it grows a tired olive tree, knotted-trunk peace-symbol. Its green fruit reflect glimmers of light.

At a distance from the trees sit four benches, each with its back toward one wall.

This garden does not exist, even while my mind sits in it, watching, waiting. I think I possess this garden, but then the toad’s trigonometric pool appears, just in time to disabuse me of foolishness. I don’t occupy this garden. It occupies my mind.

I am not alone here.

On the bench to my left sits an old woman. She has a basket of grape leaves next to her today. Some days she brings fresh dates, golden, unripe. Others, her basket holds za’atar, a spice mixture sprinkled with sesame seeds. She murmurs praise for her produce.

On the bench to my right, an ancient-looking man sits reading a book, most days. I cannot tell if he holds the same book every day or a different book. He doesn’t know, either. He reads it, pauses, mutters, cocks his head as though listening, and then continues to read.

Across from me a woman occupies the remaining bench. Her two children play in the grass in front of her. She watches them and smiles, but her eyes seem not to see the garden as they search some other place, subtly creating silence around her.

I think about what to write here. My children play behind my bench.

Four people have come to this space for generations. Each lays a claim on it. The four forget about the toad and its reflecting pool. They forget about the gardener, the people who live behind the walls that enclose the garden, or whatever may thrive beyond. They remember living here for thousands of years. They imagine living there now.

The four people reflect a me and you that do not cohere. We fall asleep here, and never leave. The dream unfolds.

There is no garden. There is a garden.

There is a Jerusalem. There is no Jerusalem.

I live in Jerusalem.


Jerusalem Imagined and Recalled
Digital art from photos
©2017 Michael Dickel

Leave a comment

Filed under Digital Art, Digitial Humanities, essay, Flash Experimental, Hybrid, Writing

Winter Poem

Apocalyptic Winter I Digital art from photos ©2016 Michael Dickel

Apocalyptic Winter I
Digital art from photos
©2016 Michael Dickel

Apocalyptic Winter

Murk clenches around the world—
solstice, yes; cruor, surely; necrosis,
possibly; apoptosis, likely. Trees pull

back, plants close for business,
even cockroaches go dormant,
or almost sleep through the long night.

Those few flowers on a windowsill
only admonish me in the name of the
painted flood that stained last summer.

Dried herbs crumble, anamneses of the sun.
I stop, though, and talk to the feral cat
whose felicitations hiss out from iron bars

on top of a stone wall that divides civic
sidewalk from exclusive parking. I would
purr, unlike this ginger gamine cat,

if I had cause enough to lucubrate.
The thalassic truth of this spot sidesteps
my yearning to swim in the desert.

Apocalyptic Winter II Digital art from photos ©2016 Michael Dickel

Apocalyptic Winter II
Digital art from photos
©2016 Michael Dickel

Absinthian coffee wakes something
harsh, chlorophylloid, but not for long, and my
bleak, burnt bones creep forth on a nameless road.

The moon climbs, someone wants me to offer
straightaway. A ray penetrates the darkness
and lifts the crux to spheres surmounting

dictionaries and thesauri that spill
obfuscations, tangle moods and modes
into articulated modifications of noumena.

The cat didn’t lie, so neither will the eye.
Clouds hid the moon. An uncanny aura
spilled down from a lunar eclipse. The trees

gamboled, lifting their roots and dropping them,
a geographic gamble. Stories stumbled down
cliffs. Nothing changed in the seething

and nothing persisted unchanged, which
I don’t really apprehend. The tongue does not
construe such spectacles or words unconstrained.

Apocalyptic Winter III Digital art from photos ©2016 Michael Dickel

Apocalyptic Winter III
Digital art from photos
©2016 Michael Dickel


If you put the mouse cursor over the links and wait a moment, text will appear over (and appear to define) the linked words. Follow these links to another Solstice Poem and another Winter poem.


Filed under Digital Art, Digitial Humanities, Poetry

En Gedi (Poem)

En Gedi — Wadi David Photograph ©2015

En Gedi — Wadi David
Photograph ©2015

En Gedi

Even lizards hide from this scorched heat.
Tristram’s grackles pant in the shade of skeletal acacia.
Fan-tail ravens float on rising currents like vultures.

David hid from Saul in the strongholds of En Gedi;
along the wadi now named for him, waterfalls
drop warm water onto maidenhair ferns into tepid pools.

Any stippled shade provides shelter from the scathing sun
when hiding from midday heat or close pursuit:
Tristram and Iseult, David, seek shade, ferns, sparkling droplets.

We escape, fugitives from kings
into what little shade we find, wade
into green puddles of desert water,

for brief respite, solace,
a bright glimmer sliding down
an eroding rock face.

En Gedi Digital Art / Poem ©2014-2016 Michael Dickel

En Gedi
Digital Art / Poem
©2012-2016 Michael Dickel

I read En Gedi at the Interfaith Eco Poetry Slam in Jerusalem on 30 June, 2016, sponsored by the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development. Here is a video of me reading it.

This poem originally appeared in Michael Dickel’s book, Midwest / Mid-East.
It also appears in The BeZine: Faith in Things Seen and Unseen here.



Filed under Digital Art, Photography, Poetry

But alive | poem

But alive

You want to sleep—but across the tundra,
or perhaps desert hard scrabble. The time
change lags behind and no one wants to
fund you, not even you. So why not rock
the float, find some interest to squeeze
into your pocket and be on your way—

unyielding to the circumspect payment,
unwilling to produce commodification,
just glyphs, morphemes, words—

until you arrive without a passport
or decoder ring and you wonder
what happened to fit in, let alone
sixty-one candles burning down
the house, the barn dancing its
way to your grave, and you still

practicing for the day the music
cried? The candles barely light
the dark moodiness that covers you.

Surround surrender and give it
a respectable coat of paint in some
fashionable color that we all like
and about which we wish someone
would recognize its unique place
in our iconoclastic creative genius.

Happy birthday. Happy. Birth. Day.
I wish you, my son, an uncommonly
pleasant brit mila, ceremonial

contract, lease on life-blood,
infinite bondage to principles
long forgotten but upheld by
certain economic theories.
Why would we depart from
these familiar formalities

without considering at least
one more possible outcome
and rejecting them all except

freedom, which has no income
and leaves you broken upon
all pensioned shores. But alive.

But alive, poem by Michael Dickel, self-portrait age 61, digital art from photographs

Self-portrait age 61 ©2016 Michael Dickel Digital art from photographs


Filed under Art, Digital Art, Photography, poems, Poetry, Writing

Patreon Launch!

Well, I’m excited! It’s time to start doing this!

I have been working on a Patreon Page. It is now up and ready, so…

It’s time to launch!

My regular followers know that I write. I make digital art. Often, I combine my words and art. I have this blog, where I post my work. Several of you regularly read my posts, like them, add comments. Thank you!

I also publish my work in journals (online and print—over 150 published works), I have three books of poetry (one eBook, two print) and a fourth (print) book coming, this one hybrid flash-poetry and flash fiction. Many of you have also followed links I post to the online publications, some have even bought my books. Thank you!

Become a supporter now!

And I’m asking now for your financial support, so I can keep doing this. I want to:

  • Re-design this blog and move it to its own server (rented space)
  • Write, make art, write, make art… you get the idea.

Creating is my life. Maybe I should get out more, but really, it’s what I love to do. Or as Otto Korekt sometimes has it, what I live to do!

So, please visit my Patreon Page and add your financial support today!

There are Rewards!

  • Signed copies of War Surrounds Us for one level of support
  • Advanced, signed copies of my next book, The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden, for another level of support
  • Both for an even higher level of support

I have Goals!

  • Include supporters in some of my creative work
  • New, Premium Theme for my blog design
  • Move the blog from free WordPress to its own server

You can Participate!

  • Any amount you wish (this is for ongoing support, so keep it affordable—you are asked to pay the pledge for each new work I post)
  • Opt in or out as you can afford it
  • I will be giving Patreon Patrons opportunities other don’t have.

Today, I launch! This is it!

Come join the fun!!!


(P.S. Did you notice the Patreon button under Support | Fragments, in the right column? You can just click on that, too!)

(P.P.S. What I am not doing: I am not charging for my work, other than a few premiums for Patreon Patrons as a thank you. My blog will continue, and it will continue to be free. In fact, I should be posting even more if I get enough financial help!  If I reach the level of support that I think could pay for moving my blog from the free WordPress, the ads that sometime appear on the bottom would go—and the Amazon ads in the side column, too. If you can’t afford to or don’t want to pay to support my work, you would still be welcome here at all times, and my work would still wait for you to read it. I hope that you will support me, but I do not want to coerce anybody. Of course, I will still be trying to sell my books.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Digital Art, Patreon, Photography, poems, Poetry, Support this Blog, Writing

Blue Notes (collage)

Blue Notes Collage Poem Printed in The Best of Northlight @1990 Digital Art and Poem collage @2011 Michael Dickel

Blue Notes

Been there:

Michigan shore,



sax whispers against
the breeze:

city, Chicago.

Blue Notes Collage
Poem Printed in The Best of Northlight ©1990
Digital Art and Poem collage
©2011 Michael Dickel


Poetry Month 2016 | Fragments of Michael Dickel

Water Poems (a poem)
Flowstone Time (a poem)
SNR—Hybrid Word Dance
Veiled Lady (a poem)
My Brand Here (Hybrid Flash)
Rosy Morn | Poem | Essay | Photographs
Blue Notes (collage | poem)
The BeZine April 2016 — Celebrating Poetry Month


Monday, 18 April, 2016 · 02:36