Ekphrasis: Nighthawks (by Hopper)


Nighthawks (by Samuel Yellen)

The place is the corner of Empty and Bleak,

The time is night’s most desolate hour,

The scene is Al’s Coffee Cup or the Hamburger Tower,

The persons in this drama do not speak.


We who peer though that curve of plate glass

Count three nighthawks seated there—patrons of life:

The counterman will be with you in a jiff,

The thick white mugs were never meant for demitasse.


The single man whose hunched back we see

Once put a gun to his head in Russian roulette,

Whirled the chamber, pulled the trigger, won the bet,

And now lives out his x years’ guarantee.


And facing us, the two central characters

Have finished their coffee, and have lit

A contemplative cigarette:

His hand lies close, but not touching hers.


Not long ago together in a darkened room,

Mouth burned mouth, flesh beat and ground

On ravaged flesh, and yet they found

No local habitation and no name.


Oh, are we not lucky to be none of these!

We can look on with complacent eye:

Our satisfactions satisfy, Our pleasure, our pleasures please.


~ by irwin on November 16, 2009.

One Response to “Ekphrasis: Nighthawks (by Hopper)”

  1. Nice little page, enjoyed the accompanying poem. Gives new perspective to an old favorite

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