Sunday, December 27, 2015

December 27 -- Jerry Garcia

Underneath the Gil Turner
Liquor Store Sign

          After Nighthawks by Edward Hopper
Bourbon skies slop
morning boulevard
            Plaza Towers glinting sunrise.
Nighthawk’s blackened pupils bulge,
            and wince.
Graphic-wrapped panel trucks
screech Jimi Hendrix cat calls
through a spew of black soot
            muffler tar.
            A trampy chorus paces
cross-street corridors
            of shadowed bushes
                        and trash cans.
            Ten hours before
            Nighthawk telephoned a spousal deception
                        about working overtime
                        with calculators and ledgers
                        and a boss screaming orders
            plausible disguise for an impending debauch
                        in a city darkened
                                    like Bald Mountain.
            Fractal colours
                        brake lights      neon signs      
                            and advertising placards
            escort Nighthawk to his mission.
Non-melodic thumping reverbs
sweaty perfume swaggers
                        at a club discreetly called The Body Shop.
                        Discordant concertos exploding cocaine addled brains
delirium collateralized
in the nakedness of dancers
            with tedious personalities.

Tiffany offers
            her oiled and sparkling breast
            and Nighthawk drifts farther
            from the quietude
            of home-cooked family life.
The chapter might have ended
            several hours later
                        in the glass-tabled penthouse
                        where card-sharking schemers
                        appropriated the electric bill funds.
            But the 3 A.M. ATM
            printed green money
                        for another run of 
                                    Nighthawk’s bad luck.
                                    He drops the bills
            picks up the cards
            and seizes hard in a glare
            of perspiration
            and high altitude
            tarmac vapours confound
                        raw eyes.
            Nighthawk seeks
                        the vehicle left behind,
                        his battered sedan lost, not stolen
                        not towed in the night
                        —just parked in the wrong
                                    dog stained alley.
            His skulking silhouette
monkey jumps a cig,
shakes its head
and folds
into the ripped vinyl
driver seat.
            Amber car-lights
process like the pilgrims
            of Fantasia.
            Ave Maria echoes remorse.

                        In the traffic of the boring,
rested employees drive
            to their first-shift time-punch.
                        Nighthawk guns his engine forward.
            When he steals into his own condominium
for ablutions and coffee,
he ponders his angelic spouse
asleep on cotton sheets;
the gut punch reality
            of children in the nursery.
            Tooth-broke and greasy,
Nighthawk chases the workday.
He throbs like a freight train
            on scrappy rails.
Disguising shame with mock efficiency,
            he sweats a job of punching numbers;
dozy excess of last night’s gluttony
            repeats in columns and rows
                        of balance sheets.
           Through zeal and sweat
work is done:
Perfected, folded and filed
inspiration of presentational success.
At quitting time
the city prepares
            Elevators full of happy-hour lightweights
unfold into marble lobbies
revellers spill onto grainy concrete
heading home to fast-food suburbs. 
            Cars congest the highways like trails
                        of  shimmering swag.  Leaving the party behind
                                    for the natives of the night. 
            Tired and cranky
Nighthawk wanders the variegated streets
                        of perdition.  Craving silence
                                    and reprieve from the din.

                        At the all American Diner
            Nighthawk shares repentance
                        and another cup of coffee
                                    with fluorescent strangers.
            Through stencilled windows
the golden gloaming cityscape
            enchants the Nighthawk
                        like a pair of legs
                           and a cheap bottle
                                    of hooch.

Edward Hopper “Nighthawks”

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