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Richard Berengarten

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Richard Berengarten Feature

Richard Berengarten

extracts from “Two to the Power of Six”

a work-in-progress based on Yi Jing

Cambridge, January 2010

The prime-minister heliports

The prime-minister
heliports to an
army base seven

safe kilometres from
the refugee camp and
gets driven there in

an armour-plated jeep.
Cameras zoom into his
sincere sombre sober

warm composed face
as he sweats in rolled
up shirtsleeves inside

a tent, holding a two
year old child on
his lap. It was worth it,

he says afterwards in
private, grinning, his
steely eyes glinting.

* * *

We wash things

We wash things,
pour oil on them,
use them

for carrying, cooking,
cutting. Meanings
slip from one

thing to another.
Things also wing through
time, acquiring and

discarding meanings
like feathers. It’s the small
particles model and

mould dooms. The spaces
between shall also be opened,
and ways names

blur one another be noted.
But who shall open them,
rename them, and return?

* * *

Harriet, queue-jumping

Impatient to get home
and cook the scrumptiously
large lobster currently

garlanded in parsley,
stranded among ice blocks
and displayed on

the sloping slab of
marble above the haddock
kippers prawns crayfish

mullet cod plaice scab
mussels cockles whelks oysters
sea bass salmon trout herring

and mackerel — Harriet
managed to jump the queue
of hatted women that sloped

all the way up the hill
from the fishmonger
to the post office.

* * *

On a slow train between Cambridge and King’s Cross

Loopy summer. Our train
has stopped at Baldock and
now is off again. Curved wires

between pylons. England’s
greennesses hedge the line in.
Ding dong. The next

station is Letchworth. Platform
hung with flower baskets.
Overhead lamps panelled

in blue and white. Sky grey
and darker grey against grey.
Fields golding slow towards

harvest. Ding dong. The next
station is Hitchin. Field
banded by poppies and
silvering willows. To be
alive is good. To be alive
and well even better.

* * *

To a next-door-neighbour

This tide of summer perfume
neither respects nor knows
any silly boundaries

of private property. Look
how the honeysuckle you
planted below our fence

has crept through cracks
and stretched and clutched
and wound its

thousands of spiralling
tendrils around everything
it has encountered — all

apparently, to invade
my back garden in full-frontal
assault — from where its limbs

go on exploring in tangled
waves, tossing out flowers,
combing out sweetnesses.

Richard Berengarten

Richard Berengarten

Richard Berengarten used to be known as Richard Burns, under which name he published more than twenty books of poetry. With the publication of For the Living: Selected Writings 1: Longer Poems 1965-2000 by Salt Publishing in 2008, he repossessed the family name of his father, the cellist and saxophonist Alexander Berengarten. He styles himself a European poet who writes in English and lives in Cambridge. He was born in London in 1943 and has lived in Greece, Italy, the UK, the USA and former Yugoslavia, and has travelled widely in other countries. In 1975 he launched and co-ordinated the first international Cambridge Poetry Festival. His poems have been translated into more than 80 languages. He is a Bye-Fellow at Downing College, Cambridge and Preceptor at Corpus Christi College.

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