god’s breath hovering across the waters

gods breath_Israeli cover

god’s breath hovering across the waters

978-1-935536-76-5

“With the earnestness of an Old Testament prophet, Henry Israeli traverses personal and historical tragedy—arguing, beseeching. In a brilliant move, Israeli writes, “god blows my hair back with his hot breath,/god with a capital G.” There are many such moments of delight in this deadly serious book. I urge anyone who loves to read to get god’s breath hovering across the waters.”

—Noelle Kocot

“Henry Israeli’s titular god—lower-case g—is a being who must be addressed, supplicated and scolded; also a being who has been stripped of his capital letter as an army officer is stripped of his insignia and demoted. The poems in god’s breath hovering across the waters themselves hover, and also dart, full of the world, and full of alert, sometimes pugnacious private sorrow. Israeli’s vision is slant, arresting, and at times, almost out of nowhere, celebratory.”

—Daisy Fried

 

THE MOTHER’S SONG

The mother’s song is

the sound of the boot

compressing the snow

the sound of the bayonet

stabbing a bale of hay

the sound of a gunshot

behind the barn

the sound of a spade

edging into dry earth

the sound of a prayer

muttered by the doomed

penitent hiding behind

a curtain his mouth

taped shut his thumbs

cut off and a hole in

his throat through which

a thrush reaches out

a worm in its beak

blind and twisted

as an ampersand

a child practiced

over and over

in a black book

as punishment for

daring to imagine

the mother’s song

that’s written on torn

white wings from

the other side

of understanding

where everything

has a way of breathing

and everything

is as wondrous as

waking up in rags

on a forest floor

realizing that no one

survived not even

those who live—

 

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