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Richard W Halperin – Matutinal Palette

Profile Halperin LEP&W Sept 2021

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing September 2021 Mini Edition

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.


Matutinal Palette

‘One is an artist, he is living at home.
One is a musician, she is living at home.’
Knoxville: Summer of 1915, James Agee

Shiny things come from that.
Every home has an odd one.
Although everyone in the home is odd.

Oz comes from an odd one.
Salvation comes from an odd one.
An Sylvia comes from an odd one.

Wars come from very odd ones.
For some reason, that is allowed.

Every day begins with one shining second.
Then everything that can possibly happen to it
Happens to it.

In The Portrait of a Lady
Isabel Archer goes back home knowing
It is not home, no, not at all home.

She goes back to it because responsibility
Is at least as luminous as happiness.

Most poems are sad. Most songs are sad.
Even An Sylvia.

I am an artist, I am living at home.
I am a musician, I am living at home.


Summer Night, Dublin, 2021

Outside my hotel window, two young people
Continue to talk past midnight. At a table in
The hotel garden. Murmurs. Soft laughter.
The heavy air carries it into my room. I wish
That they would stop, but my soul wants them
To continue indefinitely. Very young voices,
One may be a girl’s, or a boy’s whose voice
Hasn’t changed yet. Two brothers, I think.
They speak Danish, a language I can recognise
But which I cannot understand.

They are we. As we were, and for decades
Thereafter. We would sit outdoors, talking
Quietly in the quiet, in a language which was
Our own, sometimes until dawn. Love –
Familial and of every other conceivable kind –
Rubs the edges off words. The soft knot of being
Together. The soft knot of being together
At the same time in the same place.


A Ballet for Martha

There they were and I, too, I
A child so I did not recognise them
Crossing streets, on their way, Graham,
Copland, others, a New York that was,
Traffic, noise, art – ‘Appalachian Spring’
A bubble blown by sophisticated people
About unsophisticated people – marriage,
House-building, faith – vanished before
They existed, never existed except
In dance. Quaker tunes which whirled
Them all away, Martha, Aaron, my mother
Jeanne, me, Bonwit Teller’s, vanished, vanished.

© Richard W Halperin