Nights and hawks

I have a poem in the Ekphrastic Review today, a response to Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Shame the WP lines aren’t long enough for the formatting…

You can read all the responses here.

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There comes a time, but you have to wait until the hubbub dies, the rolling home

and car doors slamming, radios blaring with final weary laughter, when dark falls.


There’s a time when dark trickles silent except for hollow footsteps and the whoosh

of the espresso machine, brushing our faces with a remembered caress, and we


can imagine the stars. City nights are starless and moonless and each cupful of quiet

has to be dipped from a diminishing stream, a slender trickle where the pigeons sip.


Follow the stray cats to find it, where the kerb bends sharp, always right angles,

into the brief silence that waits for the birds to return with the rumbling dawn.


Café lights glow, turning streets into gullets, swallowing shadows. No moonlight

this, only ersatz, that draws moths with fluttering, papery wings, not hawks,


hawks don’t come here foraging with the pigeons in this delusion. Hawks fly high

and fierce where the night is dark and bottomless, and their sharp, narrow wings are


moon-silvered. Shield your eyes with your hand and look higher than the gully of

darkness, above the rumbling dawn, and you can see them, hanging among the stars.



Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

19 thoughts on “Nights and hawks”

  1. The form suits the sentiment and the painting I think – long, slow, thoughtful. I always thought this was such a desolate painting, an encapsulation of loneliness and isolation we feel, even when near others. But your poem speaks of other places, other times – and those wonderful, soaring hawks!

    1. Thanks Lynn. The prompt asked that we don’t write about loneliness, but I’ve never thought of loneliness in connection with this painting. Just people out late. Cities are like that, never closing down completely. I’d rather be with the hawks 🙂

  2. Oh, this is lovely. Congratulations! I thought you said once that you didn’t like long lines. 😉 I’ve always been intrigued by this painting, too. I love how you play with the title and convey the isolation–but then also the freedom of hawks.

    1. Thank you! I maybe had something against long lines, can’t remember what exactly. I thought it read better to have the long lines rather than lots of short ones.
      It’s such a familiar painting, like something from a Bogart film.

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