Edward Hopper: Poems at an Exhibition

Le Pont des Arts, 1907

                     Le Pont des Arts, 1907

                     in 1907 girders were made
                     curved to span a river in
                     tempered sprung, perched
                     across pillars, a taut hold
                     of tonnage letting the

                     frozen strain of arched
                     air through which to sea,
                     allowing the first parting
                     for cream sunlight to
                     wash the quays a new day,

                     holding up ridiculous Way
                     for passers-over blown
                     full against over-clothes
                     regalia by the fithery grey
                     sky preparing lemon

The Louvre in a Thunderstorm, 1909

                     The Louvre in a Thunderstorm, 1909

                     the mansard roofs were sullen
                     right up to their windows, even the

                     Pont du Carrousel was brooding, begrudging,
                     still, its continued expanse; but

                     the trees were aflame in anticipation, they
                     have always breathed the scape of sky

                     to ascertain continued combustion, never
                     cursed it to a line, however stylish

Le Pont Royal, 1909

                     Le Pont Royal, 1909

                     the thing is: the morning sun
                     which meets the facades face

                     on and sculpts them – fine-
                     hewn – into their architecture

                     and makes the bare trees into
                     manly veins, is not brought

                     by the bridge despite all its
                     pedestrian traffic to work

Soir Bleu, 1914

                     Soir Bleu, 1914

                     what does that clown
                     sat at the table with
                     cigarette oblivious
                     to blood-wounded eyes?

                     my goodness, I hadn’t
                     noticed, sat here with
                     only a towel to wear,
                     no wonder I cannot drink

                     I
                     am a Chinese lantern made
                     flesh immaculate borne of the
                     minds of my un-talking parents
                     sat before a clown with empty carafe

                     me, I could paint a picture of this all
                     but the hills are dark behind my mind
                     and roll downstream continuously
                     out of frame

Evening Wind, 1921

Triptych 0

                     Evening Wind, 1921

                           ahhh,

                           I have
                           washed

                           the bed
                           is open

                           and cold
                           I shall

                           dry my
                           self in

                           the air
                           of town

                           and breathe
                           the scent

                           of stone
                           and paint

                           work port-
                           al to dream

                           where the
                           work can

                           continue
                           all night

                           with vigour

Railway Crossing, c. 1922-23

                     Railway Crossing, c. 1922-23

                     so it is always the latent light
                     transmitted through cloud

                     or orbit that depicts manufacture
                     from function to dimension,

                     from light to not light in all degrees
                     of plane and completed form,

                     novel from the slow trees and grass
                     that know no distinction but the

                     quantum happenstance
                     of air and reach, but no way

House by the Railroad, 1925

                     House by the Railroad, 1925

                     now the sides go up
                     yes the sides go up

                     and the columns come down
                     yes the columns come down

                     and the windows look out
                     yes the windows look out

                     and the windows let in
                     yes the windows let in

                     and the ledges stick out
                     yes the ledges stick out

                     and the roofs step up
                     yes the roofs step up

                     and the shadows cast depth
                     yes the shadows cast depth

                     all cushioned by the sleepers
                     all cushioned by the sleepers

                     of the track track track … annnd

Drug Store, 1927

                     Drug Store, 1927

                     Silbers Pharmacy
                     attractive as a Hindu shrine

                     apothecary of light
                     key to laxation

                     at the sound of coin
                     on glass-top counter

                     on the corner in the heart
                     of sandstone city

                     shadows etched into
                     its uprights and lintel

                     red and orange-pink
                     phial, green and turning

                     blue-black phial

Automat, 1927

Triptych 1

                                                              Automat, 1927

                                and so it came to evening
                                where all outside became

                                the dark of window
                                zipped by serried flanks of light

                                held in time
                                for tea – for long moments

                                gone cold while last thoughts
                                echoed back through canyons

                     of event

Chop Suey, 1929

Triptych 2

                     Chop Suey, 1929

                     it wasn’t until late morning
                     the following two years later

                     when she sat alone at the table
                     washed ghastly in the daylight

                     that she raised her eyes at last to
                     recognise what had happened

Hotel Room, 1931

Triptych 3

                     but then it was a further
                     two years until she found

                     herself half dressed between
                     lifetimes marked between the

                     pages of a book found in the
                     Hotel Room, in 1931, so long

                     since the promise of the evening
                     wind ten years earlier when she

                     could stand to have the lights
                     out

New York, New Haven and Hartford, 1931

                     New York, New Haven and Hartford, 1931

                     morning sun appears in fat fingers along the
                     railway track, along the lawn getting somewhere:

                     it fringes the finials of the trees and brush
                     phlanged in all directions but splats façade-

                     on and aspectedly against the sited house for
                     decades reaching 3D chimneys high to the sky

Compartment C, Car 193, 1938

                     Compartment C, Car 193, 1938

                                the woman reading
                                in the compartment
                                was a student of pivot
                                and cross-reference;

                                while the trajectory
                                paralleled the river,
                                it bisected the bridge
                                at sunset: the light

                                to read came not
                                from the lamp but
                                the heightened pers-
                                pective of traverse

New York Movie, 1939

                     New York Movie, 1939

                     the column must be carved and grandiose-
                     enough to hold the height of proscenium
                     despite the worried contemplations of the

                     usherette that it is colossal-enough for the
                     lost horizons washed grainy across the screen
                     for she has watched it ten times or more

Office at Night, 1940

                     Office at Night, 1940

                     you cannot see your own eyes while looking
                     or your face when working late
                     macabre with its daylight paint

                     because the light across the wall from the street
                     will not work its way over the room
                     only the blind will lean

                           inwards
                           slightly and
                           briefly

Summertime, 1943

                     Summertime, 1943

                     all the stucco, ledge
                     and column waiting

                     patient for the age to
                     come its rightful time

                     will mark the vigil
                     but once a year when

                     door is paused and
                     window opened to

                     draw a single breath
                     won  –  der  –  ing

Morning in a City, 1944

                     Morning in a City, 1944

                     in the height of a room
                     with no ceiling, it’s alright,

                     it’s alright to stand naked
                     before the window and be

                     the first to let the tilt of
                     sunlight through lucent

                     green form every ligament
                     poise and fold up from some

                     groggy horizontal; the blinds
                     across the way are half-

                     pulled and unconcerned
                     staring vaguely downward

El Palacio, 1946

                     El Palacio, 1946

                     the perpendicular signage
                     plainly black and red
                     in the dirty daylight

                     and the tall windows
                     and doorways down
                     the street with their

                     proud back-painted
                     balcony rails looking
                     out over empty flat-

                     roof streets one floor
                     up, submerged before
                     the mountains under

                     unrelenting pressure
                     of the blue and grey
                     sky so that distance

                     is sharper than the
                     foreground in all of
                     its vague detail

Seven A.M, 1948

                     Seven A.M, 1948

                     too early to open,
                     the shadow off the clock
                     is too long

                     the trees at
                     the edges of nightmare
                     have yet to release

                     the light worries
                     the door handle and would
                     feign entry already

                     but the
                     conspiracy is deep, as
                     dimension takes a right angle

Office in a Small City, 1953

                     Office in a Small City, 1953

                     sitting back in his chair
                     the architect, exhausted
                     by the detail of the past,

                     sits in the building he has
                     not yet finished designing
                     but satisfied, at least, with the windows

Western Motel, 1957

                     Western Motel, 1957

                     she turned, shoulder-frozen
                     and foot-crippled, ‘what, now?’,

                     as the setting sun reached
                     the bare tree branch across

                     a mesa landscape
                           no
                           ne
                           ed
                           to
                           an
                           sw
                           er,

                     the shadows are set
                     square and boxed

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