cover image Foreign Neon

Foreign Neon

Daniel Halpern. Alfred A. Knopf, $19 (85pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40636-5

The poems in Halpern's seventh collection are mostly domestic recollections, backward glances from a point in life shared with ``the second generation / of pets, whose kidneys have already / begun to fail.'' While the poems often originate in kitchen or bedroom, Halpern moves into the surrounding natural world (frequently a coastal setting) to call upon the progress of the seasons, the movement of day into night, or the advance and retreat of a storm to support his meditations on time's passage and the distance left in its wake. Wispy anxieties weave through daily life--``What about me / standing here downstairs?'' asks the speaker in ``The Plan,'' waiting for his beloved to finish a telephone conversation and join him for a walk ``along the beach road''; on laundry day ``It's the domestic that remains reliable'' (``Cliche Domestique''). Also summoned up are a rock-collecting friend from childhood, an absent colleague and admired fellow poets in poems that plumb the emotional territory between experience and its existence in memory. Halpern is the editor of Anteaus magazine. (Oct.)