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Nighthawks

Second-place 2016 Poetry Contest Winner

Edward Hopper, 1942—Art Institute, Chicago

 

He sits at the counter
of the café, keeps his hat on,
a grey fedora, maybe thinking
he won’t stay long.

His back to us
he faces the couple who
come every night to sit
at the bend of the counter.

The woman in red … hair, dress,
lipstick, her companion
in suit and tie, they take no note
of him, murmur only to each other.

The server, white shirt,
white hat, blond and young
eyes fixed
on the woman of the night.

The man has grown tired of this scene
his coffee bitter, body stiff from sitting
too long on the stool,
he wants to step out of the picture.

No one seems to notice as he moves
toward the door,
exits the frame,
dashes down the long tier of steps

darts past the lions who stand guard
— both fast asleep.
On Michigan Avenue a Starbucks
at every corner, livelier

than the café Hopper
painted for him, he goes inside
muses over the menu,
orders a cappuccino grande.

The barista says she likes his hat,
tells him the fedora reminds her
of the man
in her favorite painting.

Contributors

Janet Leahy’s poems appear in online and print journals including New Verse News, Midwest Prairie Review, The Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, and elsewhere.

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