TIE Poet of the Month: ‘Book of Shoulds’, by Henry Israeli

A snail never trusts its surroundings
so is always moving somewhere
until it ends up in a pot with butter.
Is that how you imagine the passage
of time, your life a slimy trail
leading to a burning hot pan?
It feels like 100 degrees out there today.
The sun is clearly trying to warn us.
At what point will we start baking?
At what point should we start baking?
My therapist warned me against
that word—should—but I can’t help
myself. Maybe I should wear a ball gag.
There I go again! I’m starting a tarot
card club for all the dead in my life.
The beekeeper offers lessons in
blind courage but nothing is free.
The joke was never meant to go this far.
It’s true that weather was weaponized
for maximum damage but it was also
raised on a diet of raw goat milk
and moonlight. Taken out of context
the river’s always looking for new
ways to strangle us. If you hear the bees
pressing up against your windows
it’s a sign you should make haste.
You should tear up your passport.


Henry Israeli’s poetry collections include New Messiahs (Four Way Books: 2002), Praying to the Black Cat (Del Sol: 2010), and god’s breath hovering across the waters, (Four Way Books: 2016). He is also the translator of three books by Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku. He has been awarded fellowship grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Canada Council on the Arts, and elsewhere. His poetry and translations have appeared in numerous journals including American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Harvard Review, The Iowa Review, The Literary Review, and Tin House, as well as several anthologies. Henry Israeli is also the founder and editor of Saturnalia Books (www.saturnaliabooks.com). Visit www.henryisraeli.com for more details.

feature image via Fabio Sola Penna on Flickr.

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One Response to “TIE Poet of the Month: ‘Book of Shoulds’, by Henry Israeli”

  1. October 14, 2016 at 1:14 am #

    BRAVO, HENRY! MAZEL TOV!