Download PDF Here
Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, January 2024
Quintet, poems by Richard W. Halperin
Snow over Easingwold
Businessmen’s hands shuffle cards
Outside November rain rises in smoke
in the Japan of grey palaces. Within the deck
On the card a picture:
A poet balances in the rain,
avoids puddles, frogs, phoenixes,
through cold willows,
his brain dry under his
‘Players playing become cards,’
nods the poet,
nod the businessmen with the rain.
on roots, on roofs,
hear within the hum of
hands of cards playing hands of cards.
Over the deck, twelve months slide,
slap. Businessmen lose, win, trade
who, in the rain,
walks outside the grey palaces
alone in the game
when the game is over.
‘Araby’ glows on the pages of Dubliners
while the latest human atrocities spew
from the radio. This time, atrocities in actual Araby.
Not for the first time in Araby, where Abraham
had two sons and, for a while, there was room
for both of them. I think of a gentle shepherd
whose gentleness has never gone away
and which is mixed in with his (legal) murder.
I am grateful to Joyce for describing a boy’s
first confused love for a luminous girl,
which prompts him to go alone in twilight
on a tramway to a distant bazaar, Araby,
to buy something for her, and where
he is ignored by a British salesgirl, Ireland
not yet a nation. So, faint echoes in ‘Araby’
of atrocities already happened and to come.
I think of a CD of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder
by Leonard Bernstein and Jennie Tourel.
Songs on the death of children. It ends with
the singer’s picturing the children as if now
they rest in their mother’s house, no longer
frightened, and with God’s hand sheltering them.
Meaning, that when they were alive,
God’s hand did not shelter them. At all.
Some art glows. It is there the day after
for the inconsolable.
My Mother’s House
A Taste of Coffee
A taste of coffee and a love of poems
is where my life has brought me.
Living in a language I couldn’t speak
until I was sixty is where my life has
brought me, through the grace of others.
With age, my favourite part of ‘In Memory
of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz’
is ‘mix pictures of the mind.’ That is what
happens in friendship, that is what happens
in love. A taste of coffee and a love
of poems. Otto Klemperer never referred
to the singers in the operas and oratorios
he conducted as singers. He referred to them
as artists. And so they are, and so are we.
Euripides writes that nothing is so foul
that it isn’t washed clean by the sea.
Time is like the sea, the sea does not move,
tt does not go for walks, it does not
turn in circles, all movement is within it.
To one who knows he is unclean – me –
that has become important. In a world
of gratuitous evil – animals don’t make
bombs, animals don’t pervert language –
in a world where compassion is at
the bottom of Pandora’s box, one is
grateful – I am grateful – for anything.
© Richard W Halperin
Richard W. Halperin holds Irish-U.S.dual nationality and lives in Paris. He is published by Salmon/Cliffs of Moher (four collections since 2010) and Lapwing/Belfast (sixteen shorter collections since 2014). In 2024 Salmon will bring out Selected and New Poems, drawing upon the twenty collections and including thirty new poems – Introduction by Joseph Woods – on the occasion of Mr Halperin’s eightieth birthday.