Richard W Halperin – Beige Beach

Halperin LE P&W July 2024

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing July 2024

Beige Beach, poems by Richard W Halperin.

Beige Beach

A watercolour and collage
‘Barrow Harbour, Co. Kerry’
by Mona Lawless.

The sand is beige.
The sea is beige.
The rocks are beige.
The washed-up seaweed is beige.

The light is grey.

The low hills
which encircle the harbour
are brown
but thanks to the artist

they seem dark beige
which takes some of the terror off them.

Beautiful Artists

Arleen Auger singing Mozart under Bernstein.
Bernstein was always at his best in Mozart.
Vivien Leigh as the tubercular wife in
Chekhov’s Ivanov. She spoiled every other
stage performance I have ever seen.

Beautiful artists. Some of them sign one’s soul.

Where Home Is

A bell struck once, which summons people
from their houses to assemble in a public place
in hopes of something marvellous: ekklésia.

Then the bell – copper? iron? – is struck
again and the assembly disperses.
I disperse, something leading me lightly –

as in Sailing to Hokkaïdo by Joseph Woods –
to what, if it ever was attached, can only be
thought of as sadly, lightly. Where home is.

Teller of Stories

Am I really a teller of stories?
I have come to think that I am,
because any poem is a story.
Every poem begins ‘And now,
my best beloved.’ A poem
can be a question, since
questions are stories, as in
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s
‘What Happened Next?
in The Map of the World.
‘An’ or ‘the’ can be a story.
If one is alone and the wind
is blowing outside and one
is so afraid one cannot breathe,
‘And now, my best beloved, the’
is a very good story.

In Memory

I have come to think that it is odd
to put ‘in memory’ after the name
of someone departed. Memory is
different from the past and has nothing
to do with the past. Love is memory.
The face of Garbo in so many films
is memory. Lakes are memory and here
they are. Did I do wrong by putting
‘in memory’ in some of my poems?
I don’t know, and not knowing is part
of memory. Outside the kitchen window
a deer in the garden. I look at it,
it looks at me or at something else.
That also is memory.

The Outline of a Leaf

By a neighbourhood bus stop: the outline
of a leaf imprinted on the surface of
the footpath, obviously by the leaf itself
over time. Dark grey against the lighter grey.
How long did the leaf lay there before it
blew away? Why only the outline and not
the imprint of the whole leaf? A strange
osmosis. Why only one leaf, on a street
in which there are always dead leaves
blowing about? When one sees an outline –
a triangle or a square, for example, on
a piece of paper – is there a content?
Nothing does not exist. In this case,
the memory of the leaf that was. Its veins,
its colours, its solidity. And its weight.
It had to have weight to fall in the first place
and to stick for a while. Did the outline
help the footpath remember the leaf? I don’t
think footpaths need help remembering.
Nor do I, my dear, in remembering you.

© 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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