Henry Israeli Poems



The Shimmering Maze



Over the grand waterfalls a flock

of starlings shocks into life,

eyes startled awake at 3 a.m.,

a plate falling upward back

onto the shelf. . . . The guests

have lingered for too long.

Thatís okay. I throw my daughter

into the air and she sticks there,

little cloud of daughter and nightgown.

The guests circle beneath her,

stare up in amazement. Bedazzled,

they agree sheís very advanced

for her years. Gazing up at stars,

itís difficult to imagine oneself

knee-deep in the water of elsewhere,

where pennies, hammered into

coppery satellites, spin like cars

on a racetrack of humdrum days.

The bookshelf pours out words

like rain. Back to bed, my baby.

Our impurities will work themselves

out as freely as our cats gather

electricity on the tips of their tongues.

I lose my place in my book.

Thatís okay. Ink seeps up through

my scanning finger. My pillow

lays an egg. The egg is my skull.

Something clucks in there.




Dementia (5)


We are doing our rounds,

††††††††††† circling the cemetery,

alphabetizing stones until

we forget the names given us.

You kneel on the ground,

pull tufts of grass. Startled bees

percolate around you

††††††††††† in a jazzy swirl. You are

digging yourself a grave.

††††††††††† Queen at the center hums

the saddest song, scats, fidgets,

††††††††††† rubs her eyes, large and blind.

I put a coin on your tongue.

††††††††††† I want to love you. You may

be my father, or worse yet,

††††††††††† my son. Bees dip and suck,

at your grey, wispy locks,

††††††††††† blind and stupid on honey.





Henry Israeliís books include New Messiahs (Four Way Books: 2002) and Fresco: the Selected Poetry of Luljeta Lleshanaku (New Directions: 2002)ówhich he edited and co-translated. He has been awarded fellowship grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Canada Council on the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council, as well as a residency at the MacDowell Colony. His poetry and translations have appeared in numerous journals, including Grand Street, The Iowa Review, Quarterly West, Tin House, Fence, Verse and elsewhere. Henry Israeli is also the founder of Saturnalia Books.




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