Tag Archives: Arts

that other night when


Michael Dickel

dark crunches down
behind some planet
waiting to jump water
puddles seize land masses
swallow rivers flatten
mountains freeze lava
until we surrender willingly
to its subversive seduction
embrace folds contours
planes of existence
dimensions of imagination
suppressed memories
and skip over
an impossible sea
to an unknown continent
over remote tributaries and
beyond shadow peaks
until we burn with cold

that other night when
Digital art
©2017 Michael Dickel

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Wet Egret | Poem


Michael Dickel

Head hunkered down into shoulders,
an egret scurries across a muddy road—
desire for a different wilderness.

Wet and Cold
digital art from photo
©2017 Michael Dickel

Digital art posted on Instagram, FaceBook, and Twitter (via Instagram).


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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

א
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.

jerusalem3web

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

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coffee brews Wednesday


Michael Dickel

As he wrote Musée des Beaux Arts

Auden danced with Isherwood. He asked about a young man
who had caught their attention long ago in Berlin.
Brecht approved of their love; Gypsy Rose Lee kissed
their cheeks when she visited them on Fire Island.
Auden loved his suffering, embraced it in his bed
each night and held it close, making love with it
before he dreamt of flying toward the sun,
the smell of molten wax, the splash of water.
Just as the blue waves engulfed him
he glimpsed the amazing flashes of color—
yellow, red, orange, blue, green, purple—
of reef fish darting toward a bit of shelter,
smooth dark caves amid the sharp coral reef.

XIR3675

Pieter Brueghel, the Elder, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus
Oil-tempera, 29 inches x 44 inches. Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels.

 


W. H. Auden, 1907–1973

Musee des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

 


William Carlos Williams, 1883–1963

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling
near

the edge of the sea
concerned
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings’ wax

unsignificantly
off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning


 

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Faster than the speed of light | poem

Faster than the speed of light

Geneva (Reuters) An international team of scientists said on Thursday they had recorded sub-atomic particles traveling faster than light—a finding that could overturn one of Einstein’s long-accepted fundamental laws of the universe. —“Particles found to break speed of light,” Robert Evans, 22 September 2011.

A particle apparently arrived slices
of a millisecond earlier than expected.
Faster than light, it knocked on the door
relatively early on a Saturday night.

The hosts had not readied the party
or sent the invitations yet, as time compressed
events into a singularity—understanding
slipped away and arrived before it left.

The single green parrot flew above the road,
its raucous call cheering the sight of the race
with time and space as a lone soldier stood guard
over the abandoned barracks of this particular dream.

A sub-atomic speeding ticket noted the date and time
of all events but perhaps its clock shifted with condensation,
a dewy drop of time dripping down the broken windshield
while the galactic waltz shifted on its axis at something

much less than the beating butterfly wing.
The whole of history would stop if we observed Shabbat
or made peace or sang a simple harmonic note,
a hidden breath of a name written by the smallest bit

of nothing as it raced to beat itself to the drummer’s distant
dance. It’s another observation point, this faster-than-light
speed, a stretching and tightening of time and space
that allows the smallest slice of a millisecond rest

before the melody continues.

Falling-bike-WEB


Appeared in:
Diogen pro kultura magazin / pro culture magazine. Dec. 25, 2012. Online and in my book Midwest / Mid-East (2012).


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Falling | poem

Falling

That day you flew down the street,
bicycle wheels humming as you leaned
into the curve and the earth’s plane
skewed, the flat ground standing up
to vertical as you floated sideways
until your knee hit the pavement
and shed its outworn skin.

clear clear  clear clear clear  clear Still, you sped on,
standing with your feet in space,
your head toward a lowered sun
that pours fiery paint down the road—
black top a mere wall below you
that confirms the looseness of earth’s
grip on your aging, no-longer immortal
body, which still thrums, bird-light,
as you catch lift and rise into the air.

Falling-bike-WEB

 

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Falling out of the world | poem

Falling out of the world

No matter how I touch this device in my hands
I will not connect to anyone or anything. A jet
flies overhead, wheels down as it prepares
to land. Passengers will disembark, lost and
confused so far from their bodies’ time. In the
distance a dark blue band of sea across a low spot
between hills promises something that I don’t
understand. I should have told her I was going,
but it’s so long ago now. This device can’t
recall her to me. It would have been better
had I told them I was on my way to visit,
but now I realize that they are not ready
for me and would not understand my call.
So, I stand on the balcony, its low railing
calling me—to jump out, so I do, forgetting
to fall as I read in a book would let me fly.
I float out into the breeze, slowly drifting down—
out through the gap in the horizon, over
that darker blue. The bruise on the skyline
welcomes me like a mattress does for a weary
old man way too tired to stand anymore.
I lay down on it, and watch the clouds
slide across blue fields of flax, the world
turned upside down, and no one to call
as I fall out of the world, dreaming of your arms.

Falling-out-world-WEB

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