Sunday, June 1, 2008

Poem: Nightwhawks

(inspired by the Edward Hopper painting)

It is late at night and the couple sits
next to each other,
coffee cups on opposite sides,
together, yet worlds apart,

not unlike the world you once lived in,
where proximity had nothing
to do with closeness,
where time was not the investment
you imagined, and where,

like the couple in the painting,
your legs could touch
in the dark lateness of night,
and no spark fly between you.

It is a painting, nothing more, yet
you see it's truth, and you know
that each person there is thinking,
their minds and hearts somewhere else,
with someone else,

someone far away,
yet closer than the person next to them,
and that for the heart,
distance is not a measurement of inches and miles,
but something else,
something soulful.

You know this because your heart
is not here where you write, but far away,
not in the southern state of your birth
with it's Dixie propaganda
and lush June honeysuckle,
but instead lives in the sparse air of New England,
where people do not eat in diners,
but at home, near the warmth of fires
that burn from within.


A while back I took part in a poet's conference, the first annual Manchester and the Mountains Poetry and Writer's conference. One of the workshops I took was a collage workshop, where first each of us made a collage, and then took those images and wrote a poem, the idea being to start focusing on images as sources to write from. Since then, I've been more conscious of the images around me.

This poem came from a book of poems I bought in PA, where several poets wrote poems based on the art of Edward Hopper, and I decided to do the same thing, taking one of his most famous paintings, Nighthawks, and writing a poem to it. You can click on the painting to get a larger view. In fact, I'd suggest it, since you can't really get the poem as fully without seeing the picture.


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