Poetry from Lorette C. Luzajic

Edward Hopper's famous painting Nighthawks. Four people in suits and hats and a lady in a red dress sit at a cafe at night. There's a huge window and this is on a city street at night with a tall building across the street.
Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Night Hawk

after Nighthawks, by Edward Hopper (USA) 1942

1. Nighthawks: Postcards From Easy Street. A foggy night. Tom Waits choking on the microphone. Eggs and sausage, toast. Warm beer and cold women. Dewana, fading burlesque queen, bumps and grinds through another round of late night jazz. Her husband, in his taxi outside, collects the strays and malcontents and takes them elsewhere, or home, if they have one.

2. May 13, 1942. Mr. Edward Hopper, S. Washington Square, New York. Chicago. Night-Hawks. 3000, less 33 1/3%, 1000. 2000, less photos, 29.00. Check $1971.

3. “The loneliness thing is overdone,” Hopper said himself.

4. Sometime around 1992, stone cold winter, inside McDonald’s, somewhere in New York, waiting to warm. Drifting, in those days, from town to town. A gangly sort, his face a sharpened street corner, slid his tray over, sandwiches and fries. It could have been Ric Ocasek but he said his name was Voltaire. All I had on my mind was running away backwards, homewards, or if my boyfriend would come back for me after whatever business he was up to, but I distracted myself with the little salt packets heaped high in hopes of skinny fries. I was half-starved, but toughed it out by grumbling about the un-green meal I’d been given. Voltaire was unruffled, but he did have a lesson to teach. You chose this place, he said. He picked up the little white envelope and folded it until it broke open and salt snowed over the Formica. Besides, this little packet’s whole purpose is your fries, and in wait of that, to hold the essence of the world... I’d never thought of it that way before, but never thought of it any other way again. 

5. On a winter’s night, a traveler: hair full of Jupiter and copper pennies. She’s a long way from Nacogdoches and she can’t sleep. She inspects her nails, lets her new friend in the fedora edge his fingers closer to hers. He seems nice. She nods for more coffee, dreams of rum and grenadine. 

6. Another diner, a dime a dozen. A woman is writing a song. Another woman hitches up her stockings, ducks into the dawn and wields her umbrella against the rain.

7. Kaldi’s, New Orleans, Decatur Street, our meeting place. Chicory in heavy pottery. Tourists and trombones and vampires. 

8. Nine years after Nighthawks, the ballad of the sad café. 

9. Café des Nattes, Sidi Bou Said, artists gathering above the sparkling Tunisian sea for shisha and mint tea for 300 years. For one afternoon I join them, squatting down on the red and green floor mats like I lived there. A German tourist next to me is reading Hesse and on the other side, some young women are arguing amicably about the origin of tajine cookery.

10. 1990. The fleet of puffy shirts and pointy boots line the north window of the all-night Yonge and Carlton Golden Griddle like some kind of pirate wedding party. 

11. Night + brilliant interior of cheap restaurant. Bright items: cherry wood counter + tops of surrounding stools … good looking blond boy in white (coat, cap) inside counter. Girl in red blouse, brown hair eating sandwich. Man night hawk (beak) in dark suit… holding cigarette…Sign across top of restaurant, dark—Phillies 5¢ cigar… Note: bit of bright ceiling inside shop against dark of outside street—at edge of stretch of top of window. Descriptive notes for her husband’s work by Jo Hopper

12. Everything Hopper painted was a kind of movie still. 

13. A clean well-lighted place, a cafe church, an American prayer.

Lorette C. Luzajic reads, writes, publishes, edits, and teaches small fictions and prose poetry. Her work has been published in hundreds of journals, and translated into Urdu and Spanish. She was selected for Best Small Fictions 2023. She has been nominated several times each for Best Small Fictions, Best Microfictions, Best of the Net, the Pushcart Prize, and Best American Food Writing. She has been shortlisted for Bath Flash Fiction and The Lascaux Review awards. Her collections of small fictions are The Rope Artist, The Neon Rosary, Pretty Time Machine and Winter in June. Lorette is the founding editor of The Ekphrastic Review, a journal of literature inspired by art, running for almost nine years, and the brand new prose poetry journal, The Mackinaw. Lorette is also an award-winning mixed media artist, with collectors in more than 40 countries so far. 

4 thoughts on “Poetry from Lorette C. Luzajic

  1. As stirring as a personal memoir, a short movie; brief moments frozen in time

  2. 1, 10 & 11 are the parts that resonated with me the most here, Lorette C. Luzajic!
    My felicitations!
    – S.

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