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A Birthday Wish for America

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Vietnam Veterans’ need for healing honored at the Traveling Wall

I wrote this poem when I saw the Traveling Vietnam War Memorial at the Northport VA. These words woke me in the middle of the night, and I wrote them down. Thanks to Gold Star Mothers Michelle McNaughton and Chrystina Kestler, I was invited by Gary Miller, of Dignity Inc. to read the poem at the Traveling Wall when it was displayed last weekend at Calverton National Cemetery. The listening was so deep, it was compassionate beyond words.  Thank you, veterans and families, for receiving my words. I’m publishing the poem here in a blog, hoping that it will become accessible for those for whom it was written. Someone asked, “Why is it called ‘Poem in Seven Pieces’? Is that because there are seven letters in AMERICA?” I was so touched by that, by how our America so deeply needs healing. It’s going to be 4th of July on Wednesday. I’m just saying.

Poem in Seven Pieces to Be Assembled In Front of a Traveling Wall

(written at Northport V.A. with thanks to the Gold Star Moms)



honoring our Vietnam


The Lord’s Prayer

engraved upon the head of a


flames soaring

above the temples into the

sky thick orange


robes of Bodhisattvas

set aflame,

a dragon breathing fire

in whose

name this poem can never be read at

any event

honoring soldiers

that does not honor

their dead


in the traveling exhibit,

forks and plates

stored in a rifle box,

jokes you told, clothes you wore that

died there, did

not come home.

Agent Orange

killed you

all alike

whether you never

left the

rice paddy or

bore your

sorrow all the way

into a new millennium,

wearing your green satin jacket,

carrying your flag

before the wall that goes on forever,

the black wall

with thousands of names on it,

some you remember

this cold night the ritual to honor you

brings wreathes and candlelight

through a cold muddy garden

whose brave bright sod

remembers your footprint.

Two thirds of you

are gone, and no one

old enough to remember you

is left

in Vietnam

Agent Orange


no one

welcomed you in those days

that are gone.


Here in this wide tent

we welcome you home.

Blue orchids

surround this chapel

if you know how to meditate  or pray

do that now:

millions of souls are waiting

to reclaim you.

What if healing


not blaming anyone

but simply sitting with

our grief,

not saying anything,

being with

the stench of burning flames

that knows no name,

dragon of fire breathing out

throughout the land

leaving as survivors

only the occasional

miracle child,

lotus blossom that still might open

in any solder’s heart any time now

the healing promises

no name will be forgotten,

even those we do not know.


Dear frozen


sit with me awhile.

I will engrave your name

upon the head of a pin,

a purple heart

is buried in

this human wall that travels

in a truck from state to state.

The man who drives the truck

asked for a hug.


There is something human

in a wall we take from state to


let us stop

and be with it awhile.


The war

ate our generation

even if

we did not go there

I look at the wall

& I would not be surprised

to see my name—

Oh yes, I would say,

so that’s what happened to me

during those years I lived in


under a TV set

as these names scrolled by

night after night

in the town bar,

missing in action,

prisoners of war,

no longer living,

like me,

neither here nor



There is just so much

no one can ever say.

Look at me.

My eyes are blind from crying tears I

cannot feel,

they fell

in a field somewhere

along the DMZ

You cannot

comfort me,

I live within this wall,

my heart still beating

I am awaiting

an ocean of compassion,

a generation

to sit beside this wall,

and “be,

and be,

and truly



I will read this poem

at that wall,

and wherever I read this poem,

that wall

will be


in the silence

of your listening


and we will be

together fully present

for the healing

that occurs here.

Susan Grathwohl Dingle 2011


Dingles in Toronto…at the top of the world!

Here’s a poem documenting the arrival of the Dingles at the top of the world:

At the Top of the World

                                           (with thanks to Cordelia Dingle)


At the top of the world

there is nothing to do but

look around and see

all the paths you could take,

and the path you did take;

what you could not see

until you got here.

This is the top of the

world! You had to

scramble to get up here,

boots dusty,

pants dusty, a hundred times

up and down,

just practicing.

You know where the trails

lead, where the fish hide

down there in the pond

because you have been

here before—

you are the enlightened one,

you brought us here

because you wanted us

to see it too;

so it is thanks to you

I know the view

from the top of the world

in Toronto,

where the old quarry was,

where now

we hold on to branches

high above the ravine,

scramble up,

see all the way

to the water!


Dingles in Toronto!

Dingles in Toronto!

Dingle Jingle Promises Well-Being Creativity & Compassion for All Sentient Beings Now!

Dingle Jingle Promises Well-Being Creativity & Compassion for All Sentient Beings Now!.

Dingle Jingle Promises Well-Being Creativity & Compassion for All Sentient Beings Now!

Still no graphics. But I declare a promise for the world: By 2020, all people generate well-being, creativity and compassion!

Thus the Dingle Jingle becomes a listening place where you can be with the poetry that occurs in words beneath the words.  Here’s a poem I wrote, dedicated to all sentient beings.  

Buddha’s Brother

Does not appear where you don’t need him.

He frequents churches less

than homeless shelters,

tearful phone calls.

Buddha’s brother

does not bring calling cards

inscribed with creeds:

He loves the heart, the need,

the deed no one noticed.

I have met him

in the wilderness dark night,

the splash of shame,

the plunge of grief,

the friend nearby

who brings the gift

of empathy:

He speaks in voices

spared the early grave

the ones he came to save

whether or not

they ever take the cup

or call him Lord,

recite his prayer,

capture him in service or in song:

He loves as well

the ones who don’t belong.

Thank you for being in this space with this poem. Let me know when to post again.  Please feel free to bring your poetry to the Listening Space that occurs between the Dingle Jingles.  This blog is now an interactive work in progress: thank you for what you contribute to the listening!

BACK BY REQUEST….Your Very Own Dingle Jingle!

That’s right! A person of vision, wisdom, power AND contribution went to the well, rang the bell,and requested a Dingle Jingle. A voice from Heaven, music to our ears, most recently bashed by a reader who loathed the stream of our consciousness, our lack of graphics and our so-called wit. We were admonished to adhere to linear expectations; and although some of our best friends are linear, we simply cannot toe that line.  We cannot even find that line.  But that’s okay because plenty of people (and blogs!) are linear.  Others hew to the stream of a different consciousness. That would now make two of us, actually maybe three, and if you are anything like Emily Dickinson (who isn’t?), then you know three really is a crowd–in a good way! Yes, gentle reader, you are in good company.  The Dingle Jingle aspires to something Gertrude Stein once suggested when she said of Los Angeles, “there is no there there,” a new post-facebook phenomenon similar to a Zen Koan, only with a commitment to honoring absurdity, contradiction and paradox:  Stream of consciousness raised to the level of the one-liner.  Write on!  There is something for you to get here, but only you can say what it is!  Yours is the stream this consciousness goes a-swimming in, to mis-quote Henry David Thoreau who once opined, “time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.” That’s what I’m talking about, and if you have ever even dabbled in Michel Foucault, you know exactly what I mean. Word!