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Mark Halperin

Mark Halperin

Mark Halperin currently teaches at Central Washington University and has taught in Japan, Estonia, and Russia. His poems and translations appear in Virginia Quarterly Review, Yale Review, and Seattle Review. He received the United States Award of the International Poetry Forum for his first book, Backroads (University of Pittsburgh Press). His last book of poetry, The Measure of Islands, was published by Wesleyan University Press, and followed A Place Made Fast (Copper Canyon Press). He and his wife, the painter Bobbie Halperin, live near the Yakima River, which he fishes avidly.


Time as Distance

Time as DistanceTime as Distance

$14.00 paper | 93 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-932826-21-3
Publication Date: Spring 2001
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"'We leave old lives,' Mark Halperin says. 'the way I put down a glass,' but those old lives have a way of continuing to invent our new ones – just as global weather patterns predict and shape one's daily round. In his latest collection, Time As Distance, Halperin explores some of his and our various lives, traveling along a time-line from Yakima, Washington, and Tallinn, Pennsylvania, back to Tallinn, Estonia, deep into his own Russian-Jewish ancestry. Along that time-line he and we all live, still, always: for Halperin, time strands and estranges us; it streamlines and brings us together. These are poems that travel immense distances very quietly, without gimmicks, but with saving heart and irresistible grace."
        —Nancy Eimers


The Escape

Amused when she asks, is your wife Jewish? and,
because it’s easier, because I don’t
want to think, I answer yes. It’s the first time.
Later, a pushy man wants to know my
son’s birthday. Confused, I make him younger
and the shift of dates feels so natural

I let it stand. Then it’s happening with family
names, with where I work, how long, with
whom—minor changes in my vita, small alterations,
other lives, one variant for this person,
another for that, as though I were picking out
ballpoint pens or books, rummaging for

keepsakes to give away, a different self to
each, each time. Months pass before I
catch on too and admit I’ve done what I did out of
caution, an attempt to screen the self,
erase the scent, obscure the trail with a series
of deadends until no one could thread

a way through those dense thickets back to
me, reeking of fear. What did I think I
had worth hiding and who was I trying to deceive?
Tell me: surrounded by those casual lies
fabricated with disarming aplomb, why didn’t I ask
whose escape I imagined I was fashioning?