PROMPT #354 – EDWARD HOPPER

It seems the paintings and works of artist Edward Hopper are great fodder to inspire other artists in their endeavors. We as poets have come across this from time to time. Many an Ekphrastic poem has sprung from these offerings. Some show the desolation of the human condition, or the interaction of the same.

Today I offer three such works for your poetic interpretation:

“Room in New York”
by Edward Hopper
“Hotel By a Railroad”
by Edward Hopper
“Sunday”
by Edward Hopper

Each painting expresses something and it’s your job to relate what it says to you. Choose one and tell us what you see!

MARIE’S VISION:

Room in New York (An American Sentence)

Here she has a house, but longs to be there, even if in one small room. 

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

#seventeensyllables

WALT’S VIEW:

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
The man had many hang ups,
and this one will have him hung over
all day. Another Sunday with nary 
a prayer on his lips, but plenty of
Jack Daniel’s on his breath.
He curses God for his lack of strength
in battling his demons, for they’ve
cost him his job and his family.
Responsibility was never his, 
and he wasn’t laying claim to this.
On any given Sunday you’ll find him
pissing his life away; he thinks
he’s keeping his demons at bay.

(C) Walter J Wojtanik – 2021

162 thoughts on “PROMPT #354 – EDWARD HOPPER

  1. Top of the morning to ya. Very lovely prompt, paintings, and poems here. Marie, your poems always manage to say a lot more than the words presented. Walt your words always seem to have more depth than what’s actually been said. That being said, well done! Let the feasting begin!

  2. Pingback: For Poetic Bloomings Edward Hopper Prompt – Plumb-Lines

  3. A Room in New York

    She rests her finger on a key. G Flat.

    Admires the Red No. 1 on her nails,
    and then presses the key. Softly.
    A single note shivers across the room.

    She pauses as if some great thought
    passes her mind, but there isn’t one.
    And it didn’t. Her thoughts are empty
    as air. Heavy as a New York summer,
    as this slap-up room with its walls
    painted with nicotine condensation.

    And she rest her finger on A Flat,
    and then presses the key. Softly.

    She sighs as if some great amatory
    urge passes her mind, but it didn’t.
    She presses the keys, randomly.
    No tune. No interlude. Just noise.
    She sits quietly. Making noise as

    he turns the page of The Times.
    He can’t read. Can’t think. Noise
    is a mind-paint, a mental rattling.
    She’s just noise, he thinks. She’s
    just a toothache. A fork in the eye.

    He feels uniquely single. She feels
    the ache of longsighted time.

    She rests her finger on a Middle C.
    Admires the Red No. 1 on her nails,
    and then presses the key. Softly.

  4. I love Edward Hopper… there is an art site on FB and I have often wrote stories to his paintings and I think the first one is one I have done… my favorite is a summer evening with a young couple out under the light…I would write these one paragraph stories to the pictures…off to church but my mind will maybe playing hooky a bit.

  5. CHEERLESS STORY

    Hot off the press,
    mundane words grabbed his
    attention.

    However, hers unspoken,
    did not.

    His eyes, ever so spry,
    kept reading—

    Wandering aloud, but never
    around to her spot.

    His mind was keen,
    while she was yet lands away.

    Cheerless and unseen, her heart
    remains—unfetched til this day.

    Benjamin Thomas

  6. ON THE SIDEWALK BY THE DIVE

    I saw this fellow sitting there
    as frail as any man could be;
    his shoulders had the shape of wear
    and his clothes, the smell of misery;
    the sight was more than I could bear,
    he reminded me too much of me.
    I’ll bet he’d rather be alone;
    I’ll bet he’s wishing he was stoned.

  7. Walt, I’m fascinated at the use of “demons” here, twice. For me, this is a compelling picture of irresponsibility.

  8. Second Honeymoon

    Second honeymoon?
    Him reading the newspaper
    Me here plunking notes

    Me reading a book
    Him watching the train go by
    His cigarette breath

    Second honeymoon.
    Isn’t that what she wanted?
    Now, I’m on the street!

    (all 3 paintings)

  9. “Sunday” – by Edward Hopper

    LONELINESS

    Loneliness,
    is an inexact science.
    It is, in itself,
    lonely.

    It’s like a book
    abandoned, left
    on the shelf.

    Aged, with more
    dust than
    pages.

    A forsaken,
    stillborn, unread
    story.

    Rotting
    like forgotten
    fruit.

    A closed virgin story,
    without the pleasure
    of eyes

    Ever laid
    upon it.

    Time and tide
    had come.

    Passed,
    on without its
    grace.

    Time and tide
    had run.

    Left its
    touch.

    As if,
    loneliness

    Never
    had a face.

    Benjamin Thomas

  10. Paper in Hand (for Room in New York)

    It could be a poem
    the man has written
    for the lady
    who sits in the room

    or it could be fortunes told
    jobs in the want ads
    to help them live
    in the city.

    It could be a map
    of memories
    of prairies and plains
    they once knew
    the dance of wildflowers
    in a place where the wind
    blows free,

    but the walls
    that need another coat
    close in on them,
    and he calls it love
    even when
    the words won’t come.

    Cars honk and sirens scream
    on the streets below
    and the weary sun
    pokes through clouds.

    The restless city stirs
    as a couple sits alone
    while visions skyscrapers
    glisten dreams.

    The flutter of angel wings calls.
    Pigeons gathered on the ledge
    talk among themselves
    until they burst free
    into heavens.

    He sets down the paper
    and opens the window.

    As the room takes in
    a deep breath
    she turns to him
    and smiles.

  11. If Only

    It’s Sunday somewhere else,
    someplace where
    love and good and light,
    are real in life,
    just as real as toil and strife,
    where “effortless effort”
    is written in invisible ink
    on nonexistent name tags,
    where there’s music and prayer and meditation,
    a break from madness, a soulful vacation.

    I have no name for the effect,
    but I do know what I might expect,
    if I could but rise to attend,
    my body to heal, my heart to mend.
    Others would speak, I would listen,
    and an unseen current
    might course through me,
    perhaps a tear might glisten.
    Maybe it could be, possibly I’d see
    that change is challenging
    but hope is tangible,
    and grace is possible.

    If only

  12. After Edward Hopper’s
    Room in New York

    She turns then
    presses slowly on the key
    for a Bflat its minor tone
    plaintive as indifference
    heaped atop the white doily
    on the table behind her

    He’s buried again
    in the newspaper
    as if she hadn’t spoken
    how she wants more
    than this tiny existence
    how he promised her

    There is no music here.

  13. (Room in New York)

    There’s just no good news
    When will all the madness end?
    When will we be free?

    Or

    I have a coupon
    BOGO tacos at the Bell
    Door Dash in thirty?

    Or

    Honey, name this tune
    She quickly plays a few bars
    The neighbor’s dog howled

    Or

    I think I found it!!
    A 3-2 in Orlando!!
    We’re leaving New York!!!

  14. Dreams needed doors to open…

    The big window open
    To let the light out into the darkness.
    It was summer and the night air
    Was cooler and not muggy.
    She had dressed in her orange dress,
    For she dreamed of going out dancing.

    He came home and sat down
    To read his evening paper.
    Work had been hard that day,
    And he wanted to rest.

    She had dreamed all day
    That he would see her and say,
    “You look beautiful.
    I think I will go show you off.”

    Instead, he had not noticed,
    And her dreams had dashed.
    She asked him how his day was,
    And he said, “I reading the paper.”
    She sat down to play the piano,
    And he said, “Could you wait
    Until I have finished reading.”

    She softly pinged one note,
    Trying hard not to cry.
    She wanted him to see her,
    But he didn’t anymore.

    She had waited the day
    For the door to open
    With him saying
    Let’s go dance.
    He closed the door,
    And she knew
    Doors had to open
    For dreams to begin.

    She wondered
    If this was how
    Her life would play out
    Waiting for events
    That never happened…
    Listening for words
    That never would be said.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    October 3, 2021

  15. (Hotel by a railroad)

    According to this
    The last train runs at midnight
    You’re such a cheapskate

    Or

    These dirty train tracks
    Are not what I consider
    A room with a view

    Or

    The sign on that train
    BOGO tacos at the Bell
    Come on and get dressed

  16. (Sunday)

    Too early again
    Why does this keep happening?
    I need a new watch

    Or

    They told me a lie
    They said on Sundays they would
    Roll up the sidewalks

    Or

    My dome’s too shiny
    I shouldn’t have shaved my head
    Do your work sunshine

  17. The Need for Rest…

    As he took the subway,
    And then walked the two blocks home,
    He dreamed of reading the paper,
    And maybe some moments of quiet.

    His weariness from a long week
    Of hard work with deadlines,
    And the boss unhappy with all of them
    Because the money wasn’t rolling into his coffers,

    Every step he got wearier.
    At home he could sit down
    Read the paper for other people’s problems,
    And she would be happy to see him.

    He stepped in the door,
    And saw her dressed
    In a nice dress, and
    How lovely she was,

    He chose to ignore,
    And saw her face collapse
    Into another night of broken dreams,
    Why could she not understand he needed rest.

    She began to play a song
    That made him smile, and laugh,
    But his head was aching and
    Each note sounded as a siren.

    He saw her sorrow.
    He made a promise
    That he would make it up to her.
    He just didn’t know when

    For him, home was a place
    To escape, and there be quietness.
    He did not see that for her,
    It was a place of work, and pain.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    October 3, 2021

  18. “Room in New York” – Edward Hopper

    HE AND SHE

    He reads things,
    black and white.

    She pleads keys,
    black and white.

    He sees things,
    that cozen his sight.

    She hears things,
    notes, taken flight.

    He hears melodies,
    aloft slender fingers.

    She knows, there’s
    no music in his pages.

    He knows her euphony,
    like words, won’t linger.

    Benjamin Thomas

  19. RUMBLINGS OF THE ORDINARY

    “Hotel by a Railroad” – Edward Hopper

    They wait patiently for the slow rumble
    of the railroad along their way.

    Anticipating the sheer power of a locomotive
    beneath their feet.

    They wait in haste, for the intense tactile taste
    of vibration, jittering, and shaking of bone.

    They cherish the subtle earthquake—to break up
    the doldrums of an unextrodinary day.

    Benjamin Thomas

  20. THE SUNDAY BLUES

    For Sunday – by Edward Hopper

    Alone, I sit.
    The Sunday grit kicks up
    against my feet.

    “Those two timing bandits
    dun robbed my saloon
    fer the last time.”

    By the time
    the dust settled on that ol’ dirt
    road, his mind was still in a dither.

    Benjamin Thomas

  21. this is one of those dueling poems… his is odd and hers is even…

    Hotel by the train tracks…

    I brought her here,
    Because we met here.
    Decades ago…
    She took my breath.

    I decided to come
    For we met at this hotel.
    I was going the opposite direction,
    But he was so charming.

    We have had a good life.
    The kids did well, and
    She was generous,
    And never questioned me.

    Our life wasn’t so bad…
    Even the rough spots
    When the money was tight,
    But he worked hard.

    I want to give her
    This break from our life,
    And maybe we can
    Go back and remember…

    I want him to remember
    How I was then…when
    I was young and beautiful,
    And he was so charming.

    I wonder where the trains
    Are going these days?

    I wonder if he sees
    That I am still that young girl…

    I wonder if she remembers
    How our kisses burned us up.

    I remembered how his eyes
    Flamed just to look at me.

    Will she remember?
    Will he still want to kiss me?

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    October 3, 2021

  22. Sunday Morning comes down hard…

    She left me without leaving me…
    She sits in a chair looking out the window…
    She rarely speaks, and doesn’t know me.
    She calls our son by my name.

    I stay out drinking
    Until the bars close down.
    Never was a drinking man
    Until she left me.

    Sunday mornings
    Bring back memories
    Of her checking the children
    Making sure that they shined,
    And checking my suit for lint,
    And smiling that smile of her hers…
    I just want her back.

    She is here, but
    Isn’t here.
    I am not alone,
    But I am.

    I’ll sit here in the sun,
    Listening the church bells,
    And let the sun dry me out,
    Before I head back home…
    To care for her
    As she once cared for me.
    Maybe the kids will come over…
    But they don’t know how to take
    Her not knowing them anymore.

    Isn’t exactly easy for me
    Most days…
    The reason I go to the bar
    When the sitter is there…
    Just to forget how it is,
    And remember how it was.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    October 3, 2021

  23. To Edward Hopper

    Artist of the ordinary
    Displayed in contrasts…
    The contrasts
    Of the disillusioned
    Against the bright colors
    Of yellows, blues, and reds…
    Of light
    In its stark brightness
    Of dark
    In its gloomy shadows…
    The shores
    In the brightness of the sky
    In its shadows of the earth…
    People
    Waiting for life to change
    People
    Watching for what is unseen
    Towns
    With no one
    Barns
    With no livestock
    Boats
    With no people
    People
    Alone
    People
    Alone with others
    Landscapes
    Bright with their emptiness…
    But
    Then there
    Are sometimes
    Cities
    Bustling
    Woman
    Sitting listening to a woman…
    His painting
    Draw us into
    The emptiness
    And we want
    To fill it with
    Action
    Laughter
    Sorrow
    Not the stark
    Emptiness
    Portrayed
    In
    The
    Comeliness
    Of
    The need
    To fill
    The Emptiness.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    October 4, 2021

  24. Edward Hopper

    A simplistic but brilliant point of view
    Laid on canvas with watercolor or oil
    Subdued to dull the situation depicted
    And provoke a diversity of thought
    So many possibilities on each canvas
    Much mindful genius in every stroke

  25. Lost On A Sunday

    Streets stripped bare.
    No sign of life
    anywhere on this
    seventh day of
    the week. Wearing
    the last decent clothes
    in his closet, he sits
    on sidewalk fronting
    his old place of
    business. He knows
    he is lost again.
    He does not know why.

  26. TRAIN OF THOUGHT AND OPEN WINDOWS

    Written for – “Hotel by a Railroad” – Edward Hopper

    Oh, the blissful days when there are open windows!
    When ginger persimmon drapes are drawn to admit
    the sweet bellows and yellows of unyielding light.

    When the sun’s steady spectrum flight is like a striking pitch
    of violin at the crest of seismic waves, striking a chord of
    an oh-so-mellow heart.

    All will be made manifest within its light, where things smart,
    where conscience and shadow meet, then peel a cry for a shy hiding place.

    He stands naked before her; laid bare in the midst of the hue’s truth,
    a ruthless and merciless x-ray of his flawed soul.

    She knows he’s no man of mettle, but she wished he were composed
    of its shade, a grayish gleam of metal spine. Then she could align their romance,
    conduct the electricity they once had, but she had enough mettle for them both.

    Following the deed among the doves, he searches the windowsill for
    minute crumbs of kind courage, tiny fragments of valiancy to stand strong
    for his true morning dove. Pure, white, and untainted.

    He knew she was no soothsayer, but he’d already been smitten by her charms.
    Wishing she were an open window, he gazes intently at the landscape of mystic beauty
    throughout the land.

    She was still beautiful in her old age, as she was in her days of innocent youth.
    Like the truth, she was wisened, a majestic oak, with deep roots. The seasons had changed
    her over the years, but she stood upright, yet without the covering pleasure of a crown.

    But even in her fallen state, she radiates a unique beauty to behold; for there is no better beauty—
    than beauty old age.

    She was the passing autumnal breeze, richly endowed with manifold degrees of color.
    She was pure, as winter’s crystal’s lover, emergent as diligent spring, the familiar humid cling
    of summer’s heat—

    Once the rumbling of the train came, their train of thoughts were broken…

    And complete.

    Benjamin Thomas

  27. Pingback: One in a Million | echoes from the silence

  28. THE GRAINS OF TRUTH

    Written for “Sunday” – Edward Hopper

    Why is it so hard to embrace weakness
    when we were born with it?

    Small and helpless beings utterly
    dependent upon the hands of another.

    With no strength to feed, drink, or nourish
    our bodies with sustenance.

    Why is it so hard to embrace weakness
    when it allowed us to be loved and cared for?

    What is strength without first knowing
    the pangs of weakness?

    What is nourishment without the knowledge
    of dire hunger?

    It was weakness that first allowed us to know
    the comfort of assurance.

    It was weakness that allowed us to grow,
    become strong and resilient.

    It was weakness that allowed another to
    embrace our needs until we were mature.

    But yet maturity means to reject our
    very nature.

    Maturity means we dispel others who seek
    to embrace our most basic needs?

    It means we reject the weakness that
    seeks out the flood of unborn tears.

    It means we actively suppress the nature
    that makes us passionate human beings.

    It means we scurry away from the weakness
    that brought us all the vigors of life.

    Yet real maturity means we embrace the
    brittleness that is—the essence of life.

    It means we open to the oppressed well
    of tears, and embrace the fears of flowing.

    It means we grasp the grains of truth,
    reject the lies that keep us from knowing—

    That we are not truly weak.
    We are just human.

    Benjamin Thomas

  29. Domestic War in Three Acts

    ONE

    Last week when he hit me…
    It was not so bad this time,
    And my bruises are
    Where no one can see them
    Except us,
    He promised to go out tonight.

    Tonight, he came home,
    And though I was dressed…
    I said nothing…
    Except that I will have food
    Delivered…
    Something he likes.

    Each page he turns
    It rattles louder,
    And while I wait
    For our supper to arrive…
    I begin to ping the
    Piano keys-
    An expression
    Of my pain…

    The keys get louder
    As the pages rattle louder…
    Until the food arrives.
    I pay for it
    With my measly allowance…
    I will skimp on what I buy
    The rest of the week.

    I turn and there he is
    Standing
    With the face of a raging bull.
    I sit the food on the table,
    And I scream
    Before his fist hits
    My jaw, and down I go.

    The pain,
    The words I hear in my head,
    Will make me be careful
    And maybe next time
    I won’t be hit.

    TWO

    Years have come,
    And years have gone,
    She can’t remember
    All the beatings she has had.
    Try as she might,
    She never has found out
    The key to make him happy.

    While traveling
    With him to visit his folks,
    She dared not look up
    At him looking out the window
    Because if he saw her looking
    He might hit her.
    She asked his mother once,
    What to do, and she told her
    That he was just a man,
    And to accept it.

    She never asked
    For help again.

    THREE

    Sunday morning
    Found him on the street
    After another night
    Of drinking
    Trying to forget…
    He didn’t mean
    To hit her that hard…
    Didn’t want her to die.
    She was his, and
    She disobeyed him.
    It was all her fault.
    He was out on bail…
    They said it was
    Due to the many times
    They came out
    Due to his beating her.
    The cops always took him aside
    To tell him not to hit his wife…
    But no one arrested him.
    No one sits in the bar
    With him and
    They look at him
    Like he was a monster…
    He was just doing
    What he thought
    Was his right.
    He never learned
    That it was never
    A right to harm
    Anyone else.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    October 6, 2021

    October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I might write this again from the point of the woman being the abuser because in my work with child abuse cases, I ran into several women who were the abusers. There is little help for men who are being physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually abused by their partner. For years there was little help for men who abuse… now they send them anger management classes, but those rarely deal with the reason behind the anger…I was once physically abused by a male friend… He kicked me and tried to strangle me… I escaped, and said to myself never again. I told no one for decades about that once instance. I felt like I would not survive. I cut that man out of my life.

  30. Marie, It is always amazing to me how you put so much meaning into a brief poem.
    Walt, Wonderful interpretation of this painting. He is the only one who doesn’t know
    that he is not keeping demons at bay.

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