from is a rose press
The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden
by Michael Dickel, illustrated by Ayelet Cohen
Paperback (6″ X 9″)
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Michael Dickel’s highly engaging fourth book gathers flash fiction written in recent years–from a series of surreal memoryscapes to flash thrillers to psychological experiments. This hybrid writing blurs genre lines across poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and cultural criticism in an entertaining montage of imagery. The woman with a beard–the unnamed main character of the first series of stories–travels as much in her mind as in the world around her, but somehow all merges with her memories to reveal emotional realities of being human. She and the toad commune somehow, through magical surrealism and mystical physics. The toad provides metaphysical commentary, at times. The garden may or may not exist. The palm reader in the second series of stories predicts the uncertainty of multiple futures which unfold in the following stories—less connected than the toad’s garden, the palm reading follows the many lines of possibility through a collection of somewhat, but not much more conventional tales. Yet, any conventionality is only on the surface—just beneath, under the cracks in everything, the stories remain surreal, mystical, strange while entertaining readers and exposing the characters’ odd humanity. These stories will amuse you as you keep reading, unable to stop yourself from finding out what next outlandish reality will appear on the pages.
Butterfly Effect: Chaos on a Shoe String
Butterfly on a shoe—a constant bliss, elated and surreal, some automatic writing made from fresh warm milk—dreams of rain. The desert sunset signifies peace to the gopher writing its manifesto far from the Saskatchewan railroad’s violence. A nasty sherbet left a taste of forgotten hypocrisy like a flashbulb memory in his mouth, burnt like boiled-over soup on the stove top. The moon mirrors his face, its shadow-craters another dimension.
Greed spills blood through the nun’s hands, nuclear waste pouring out her fingers. What bread will she eat, this stench of death in her nose? Lady Macbeth knew blood and hands and death. The ocean breeze ruffles her hair like forest leaves, while the sea’s salt walks the dog like sweet coffee travels through the night, Mercury retrograde, with nomadic drivers hustling the highway for spare change at the pool table before dawn.
The tulip knows cold winds, playing Scrabble, drinking mint tea under the snow, waiting for the cardinal’s lonely, red, winter vigil to leap up into spring. The spirit needs rest. Karma suffers bouts of cold and sweat; hot, dull space drips its indigo cello-blue into Luce Iragary’s recursive folding of flesh away from and toward the center, touching Cixous’ brushing, together, moments of possibility.
The cat in the sky sits on the green roof, thinks, “time to go.”
—Michael Dickel, from The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden
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Michael Dickel co-edited Voices Israel Volume 36 and was managing editor for arc-23 and arc-24. His poetry books are War Surrounds Us (2015), Midwest / Mid-East (2012) and The World Behind It, Chaos… (2009).