Richard W. Halperin has seen over 230 of his poems published in magazines in Ireland and the UK since 2005. His full collections are via Salmon: Anniversary (2010); Shy White Tiger (2013); Quiet in a Quiet House (listed for Autumn 2015). In 2014 four chapbooks appeared via Lapwing: Mr Sevridge Sketches & A Wet Day; Pink, Ochre, Yellow; The Centreless Astonishment of Things.
I have finished my poem. It is enough.
What does one do to escape sadness?
A boon in writing is not to include sadness
For a few lines. But that’s not possible.
When one dips one’s brush onto the palette,
All the colours are burnt sienna, unless
One is drunk or a liar. So, use them.
If light accidentally hits a word or two,
Someone may think there is no sadness;
That the fourteen lines are an oasis
From what one has had too much experience
Of. See? A preposition’s not sad. Sentience
Is sadness. Olivia’s willow cabin. A dream
Rubbed: colour, then sepia, then good-bye
Reading Dom Sebastian Moore
A holy man who thinks he is not holy
Writes sonnets, one a day, a form resembling
Forgotten perfection, the lonely thoughts
Of a lonely man in community, Jesus also
A lonely man with lonely thoughts in
Community, our brother and friend therefore.
Calls his book Remembered Bliss because,
He says, we were all pre-happy before birth
And can remember that. Since poetry,
In good hands, is pre-, he puts me in the pre- .
Here in my own room, window open, I notice
Rain soaking my curtains. I could pull them in,
But don’t. They’ll dry eventually.
I won’t. A good poem, his, does that.
There they are
They die and become the forever people.
The woman who sold fruit outside the school.
The neighbour who was carried off last month.
Others much closer, but not for this poem.
So many books are called The Adventures of,
The mind diverted to the fake extraordinary.
All the horses I rode, and not like Errol Flynn,
Now the forever horses in the forever field.
It is being which is extraordinary,
Any slight hand tremor; any waking;
The complicity between a couple,
No breakfast exactly the same; some poetry –
Emily Dickinson’s – buzzing like a fly on
The wall: forever now, you are forever right now.
It slices through the water. It is the water.
It is the sea, and the light upward
On your face. Green light. Transparent
Under the brim of a straw hat, on the print
Of a voile dress; on you, full stop. The sea too,
The water of it, is green light. Not the
Heaviness of the water, the crushing weight;
Not the buoyancy of it; but; but: the colour green.
This consoles. This transfigures. You, solid,
There, in the boat. We were talking, of course.
A woman with guts is a pearl of great price.
How did that get in here? It is true; as I’ve learnt
From its absence. Green light that day. Your hands
Calm. We talking. When all now is not, that Is.
I am no fool to be afraid of the night
An old man writes from an old house: Shapes change
In the night – chairs, sounds, thoughts. Bernadette said
‘You are not responsible for a thought
The first time it passes through the mind.
You are responsible the second time.’
But night has no time, as every lover knows.
So I write to stabilise the night: To keep
My old body old, lest it change into
The young one which did all that damage. To keep
Young the young dead, lest they no more rest in peace.
I am no fool to be afraid of the night.
If writing fails, other things: ‘Dover Beach’;
The ending of ‘The Dead,’ which would not be
The same if the man’s name were not Gabriel.