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James Hoggard


Mr. Hoggard comments that the poems featured here are from a series based on paintings and etchings by Edward Hopper, and told in Hopper's own contrarian voice.

(Edward Hopper on his 1965 oil, his last painting)

Perhaps it's the costume
that lets me laugh,
or smile as it were --
for me they've been the same

Perhaps it's the clown's disguise
that lets me be
looser than I usually am
strutting cock-proud now,
goofy-eyed at a crowd,
the illusion of a crowd
no one sees but you and me

Clowns, we move toward stage's edge,
a place I've made like a roof's edge,
with threat or promise of a fall

But the moment seems sweet,
our domestic wars almost done,
and white-clad and foolscapped,
we seem blest as we press
toward the last edge we'll meet,

our lyrical selves always in France,
our final days just bibelots:
Nous sommes, Jo et moi, les pierrots

(Edward Hopper on his 1942 oil)

They are not human, except in disguise
A hatchet-faced crew, their eyes
are sockets of darkness that catch no light

Forward-curving, their backs make them seem
as if they're perching on limbs
in a windless world where light,

spilling from its aerie, triangulates
all the planes it touches: sidewalks
and streets, open windows and wedge-lit walls