Richard W. Halperin – Can the Stars Read?

Halperin LE P&W June 2024

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing June 2024.

Can the Stars Read?, poems by Richard W. Halperin.

Can the Stars Read?

Can the stars read? Read us?
I think they might. I think they
can. Including our own sun,
although one doesn’t like
to think about that – too much light.

Can the moon read? I think it can.
It has all the requirements for a good
reader: stillness, shadow, death.

Einstein was a good reader.
Bach was a very good reader.

Endless Pleasures

Anne Kennedy’s poetry, for a start:
her collection The Dog Kubla Dreams
My Life. Why does a poet put marks
on a page? Because they are marks
on the poet’s life. And if the poet is
really good, marks on the lives of others.

The dog Kubla dreams my life.

I am not American woman. I do not have
a husband who occasionally strays
or thinks about it. I do not have children.
I have never lived in California or Upstate
New York or Buck Mountain or Galway.

I have not been diagnosed with terminal
cancer. I have not asked that my ashes
be buried in Westwood, near the plot
where my mother is buried, which is near
the plot where Marilyn is buried, to which
Joe continues to send red roses.

Anne Kennedy makes me know there is
something endless about courage.
I shall need courage to enter the night
that she has entered. Her poems.

About stones she finds on beaches.
(And people find amethysts on Achill.)

About a woman sitting next to her
on a bus, talking about an umbrella
lost or stolen in a place which starts
by being Paddington Station and
turns into tunnels under Cairo.

About Schrödinger’s cat. For
Anne Kennedy, as for Einstein,
physics can’t be physics without charm.

Some people are fond of Schrödinger’s cat.
Some people are fond of Schrödinger.
To be fond of makes any discussion
of eternity or immortality a discussion,
not an experience.


A tiny bird – mad? – mainly yellow,
hovers over a bush outside the guesthouse
in which I am staying in Ireland.
Never landing. Changing its mind
every second. Then landing. Continuing its
evident argument. Is it injured? Can it not
fly away? Then flying away.

Multiply this by the tiny birds
trying to get at a nearby bird feeder.
Multiply this by all the stars that are.
Multiply this by human stupidity and by
human kindness (bird feeder).
The bird’s tiny head was bright yellow,
as was most of what was either its neck
or revolving spasms.
Was Jesus a tiny bird talking to other
tiny birds?

Hop, hop.

Karajan said in a podcast radio interview
that what made him know, as a boy,
that he could conduct big symphony orchestras well –
that it could be done – was seeing flocks of birds
in flight, wedges and diamond shapes
moving in the sky as one beautiful thought.
That this was happening entirely without him.
The interview was in French. Thus,

© Richard W Halperin

Richard W. Halperin holds dual U.S-Irish nationality and lives in Paris. His poetry is published by Salmon/Cliffs of Moher (four collections) and by Lapwing/Belfast (sixteen shorter collections). In Autumn 2024, Salmon will bring out Selected & New Poems, Introduction by Joseph Woods.

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