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Richard W Halperin – Scattered Things, Formal Things

Halperin profile LEP&W July2021

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing August 2021

Richard W. Halperin has Irish/U.S. dual nationality and lives in Paris. His most recent collection for Salmon Poetry, Cliffs of Moher, is Catch Me While You Have the Light, 2018. People in a Diary is listed for 2022. His most recent shorter collection for Lapwing, Belfast, is Summer Night, 1948, 2021. His poem ‘Snow Falling, Lady Murasaki Watching’ is on permanent display at Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo. Readings scheduled in Ireland for 2020 have been deferred to late 2021 or to 2022.


Scattered Things, Formal Things

I look at an old photo sent by a friend:
An outdoor fête, Rosendale, New York.
Many friends gathered, some seated on
The grass, some in chairs, some standing.
A giant tree shelters everything,
A clapboard house in the background.
Blurry afternoon sunlight, precisely
Photographed, surrounds each person,
Each object. Not an effect. Not at all
Soft focus. One can almost touch
The gauzy summer clothing, brush
Against a croquet ball, know – as
Everyone does – what the inside of
The house looks like. As in all photos,
Everything is here and not here.
I take it all in. I am waiting for a bus
In Paris, as it happens. The photo
Is in my phone. I hear a bus bell ring
At a distance, the bus not yet visible.
The sound yanks me out of the photo.
Will death be like that? A good photo
Is like a Rossellini film. Scattered
Things, formal things, which stick
In the mind forever. Miss Bergman
Made a good decision.


Light Is Water

One of the oldest surviving mechanical clocks
In the world is that of Salisbury Cathedral.
It has no face, it has no dial, just the iron parts
Moving. In clocks afterwards, something has
Been gained and everything has been lost.

July 18th 2021, Place Vauban, eleven o’clock.
I am having morning coffee on a big café terrace.
The tops of the trees on the avenue de Breteuil
Are transfigured in the sunlight. People pass,
People sit down at tables: couples, friends,
A few pregnant women in majesty, a man
With one leg, antique car owners –one can
See every Sunday here Isotta Fraschinis,
Fin-tailed Cadillacs, Volkswagen Beetles,
Peugeots looking like Alain Cuny or
Delphine Seyrig will step out of them.

A time of peace, the Wandering Rocks wide open.
A consciousness, depending on your beliefs,
Of an Invisible Photographer. Photographers
Change the reality they photograph. Their
Actions in it stir the waters. (Light is water).
They are responsible for those changes. Yes, they are.

July 18th 2021, Place Vauban, eleven o’clock.
A street post box is so pure a primary yellow in the light
That it could be in Oz. Seurat and Dali did their best,
Their best was the very best, but this is better.

© Richard W Halperin