______________________By RICHARD BERENGARTEN.
_________________________The pleasures of secondhand shops
_________________________on Mill Rd have been mine for 35 years:
_________________________Cambridge Resale, where for £29.99, I
_________________________bought my sleek fine-tuned ghetto-
_________________________blaster, on which I still play obsolete
_________________________audio-cassettes; the Salvation Army,
_________________________where in 1987 I found a serviceable
_________________________suit for ten pounds, wearing which I
_________________________later met ambassadors, a president
_________________________and a duke; Cornwall’s, from whom
_________________________I built a collection of patterned plates
_________________________from post-mortem house-clearouts;
_________________________and the RSPCA bookshop, where
_________________________for peanuts I unearthed half a dozen
_________________________dictionaries, by now dog-eared and
_________________________finger-marked. These pleasures I
_________________________praise and sing. May those who provide
_________________________them live in health and joy for ever.
______________________ Morning, open windows
_________________________Sunlight is flickering
_________________________on the wall facing
_________________________the long window
_________________________in our sitting room
_________________________and the leaves
_________________________on the windowsill
_________________________scatter their magnified
_________________________daubing and splashing
_________________________the whole wall,
_________________________bathing and swathing
_________________________the entire interior
_________________________where nothing can
_________________________or will keep still.
_____________________ Winter solstice
_________________________Sky a frosted pearly
_________________________porcelain blue as I walk
_________________________down Mill Road this
_________________________morning to post a last
_________________________Christmas card. A mass
_________________________of people out, traffic
_________________________honking, blocked solid.
_________________________Yesterday I heard another
_________________________friend has died – that’s
_________________________two gone this week.
_________________________Today consciousness, life
_________________________itself, seems improbable,
_________________________of small glories mean more
_________________________than all or any of
_________________________At home I boil a sky
_________________________blue egg for lunch.
______________________ C’est la vie, mort de la Mort!
_________________________One September Sunday
_________________________evening I walked out and
_________________________saw a zinc-and-nickel
_________________________half-moon in cloudless
_________________________sky above Cambridge, and
_________________________beside her, joined
_________________________in hinted outline, her
_________________________other half. And that was very
_________________________fine above my town’s
_________________________trees and buildings. And
_________________________around 2 a. m. that night I
_________________________read Cesar Vallejo’s line
_________________________Calor, Paris, Otoño, !cuanto estío
_________________________(Heat, Paris, autumn, so much summer) –
_________________________and then turned pages and read
_________________________C’est la vie, mort de la Mort! –
_________________________and that was even finer than fine.
_________________________Poetry is a criticism of death.
______________________ Beautiful September morning
_________________________morning. I open my eyes
_________________________and then our curtains
_________________________and windows. Behind
_________________________the telegraph pole outside
_________________________this house, our rowan
_________________________tree’s berries redden.
_________________________Men in shirtsleeves and
_________________________women with bare arms
_________________________walk or cycle to work.
_________________________Against the green wall of
_________________________number 72 opposite,
_________________________sun shadows patterns
_________________________of chimneys and sloping
_________________________roofs. Things of their
_________________________own accord fit and
_________________________cohere, including our
_________________________breaths and this air.
______________________ Brightness diffusing
_________________________Sunlight bronzes sea.
_________________________Everything sighs. Mid-
_________________________October, still warm.
_________________________Olive leaves’ undersides,
_________________________dull metallic sheens, flicker
_________________________across sandy hill groves.
_________________________Our sunflower heads
_________________________are harvested. Light flames
_________________________oleanders and cypresses.
_________________________Prickly pears swell,
_________________________lobes topping green oval
_________________________faces, golden grenades.
_________________________Instress, pattern, glory.
_________________________It all coheres, no question,
_________________________as do these notes of mine.
_________________________Come sit at the table
_________________________out here on the balcony.
_________________________Drink a glass of wine.
Born in London and resident in Cambridge, Richard Berengarten has lived in Italy, Greece, the USA, and former Yugoslavia. His writings, mostly available from Shearsman Books, draw on and integrate multiple traditions. His latest book, Manual, contain 100 poems on the theme of the human hand. Two recent chapbooks are Imagems 1, twelve statements on poetics, and Twelve Poems, translated from the Croatian of Tin Ujević. The Salt Critical Companion to his writings contains over 30 essays by writers from 11 countries. Forthcoming books are: Notness, 100 metaphysical sonnets, 2015; Changing, homage to the I Ching, 2015 (from which the above poems are taken); and Richard Berengarten: A Portrait in Inter-Views, ed. John Dillon, 2016. Three recent interviews appear in the International Literary Quarterly (# 21), and his 2012 reading of the single long poem, Goodbye Balkan Belle features in the Berkeley Lunch Poems series. Recipient of many literary awards in the UK, Macedonia and Serbia, especially for The Blue Butterfly, his work has been translated into over 90 languages. In 1975, he founded the international Cambridge Poetry Festival, which ran until 1985. He is a Fellow of the English Association; currently a Praeceptor at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge; a Bye-Fellow at Downing College, Cambridge; and poetry editor of The Jewish Quarterly.