Richard W Halperin – Ink, Block, Scent

Profile Halperin LEP&W June 2021

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing June 2021

Richard W. Halperin holds Irish-U.S. nationality and lives in Paris. Since 2006, he has seen over 450 of his poems published in literary magazines, mainly in Ireland and the U.K, with an especially large number taken by Cyphers and, until it closed, THE SHOp. Since 2010, he has published four collections via Salmon Poetry. The most recent is Catch Me While You Have the Light, 2018; People in a Diary is listed for 2022. In complement, since 2014 he has published thirteen shorter collections via Lapwing, Belfast. The most recent is Richard Dalloway in Wisconsin: Two Poem Sequences. The Irish Writers Union has awarded Mr Halperin a bourse to spend a week in Rome in September 2021 under the auspices of the Italian Writers Union.

i. My pen writes

My pen writes.
I try to follow it
As best I can.

I do not know
If it is running to something
Or running from something.

As a boy, I enjoyed golf.
Hard to play in the middle of
Manhattan Vienna Paris

The places I have lived in since.
Green terrains
Where even the surprises

Are planned.
Where tempers can be lost
Without calling the police.

Where if things change
From 4 to 3,
That is jolly good.

Some writers are terrains
Which I like to be in.
Jane Austen, Arthur Waley.

Jolly good.

ii. Lines

I broke with a friend
And am unhappy about it.
He was my friend.
My back was totally exposed.
He said what he said,
I had no preparation for it.

I turn to Chinese poetry.
It is some help but not much.

A broken marriage
An unhappy love affair
A confusing childhood
These all find their way
Into poetry,

But a broken friendship
Has no place to go.

iii.  Irish Grey

There is green of course
And all those other colours.
But for me
Grey is Ireland.

Irish grey
Brings out the colours
In everything.

Paris grey
Is vibrations of light.
Sometimes it hurts the eyes,
The glare of it.

Irish grey is soft.

Ireland and Paris.
I have lived in other places
But grey has little to do
With them.

Paris grey
Is what it is.

Irish grey
Falls on me
Like a sorrow.

iv. Lovely Lady

She arrived
During my college graduation
In the Bronx.

I was not at it,
I was working a summer job
In Chicago and glad of it.

At the ceremony,
I was to be awarded
The college’s Liberal Arts medal.

A pal who did attend
Wrote me he was disappointed
That Dorothy Lamour hadn’t arrived

On an elephant
To pick up my medal for me.
Who didn’t love her?

She had got me through
Some tough times in my childhood.
And the Bronx could have handled it.

iv. To a Friend

Your poems are a complete delight.
You write them in English
But they read as if translated

From a language in which
Words are not necessary.
I also write

Which gives me a complicity
In such things.
I shall not mind dying

Or at least I think I shall not.
At worst, it will mean
That I shall disappear.

At best, it will mean
That we shall walk together
Where we already are

© Richard W Halperin