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A NEW YORK TALE

Though they lived for decades no more than a block

from each other in Greenwich Village – one

in Washington Square, the other Patchin Place –

there is no record they ever met,

Hopper the painter, Cummings the poet.

 

They would have thought that they had nothing

in common – the real, the lyrical.

But, hey, what do geniuses know?

 

They may have passed each other on some sidewalk,

on Sixth Avenue or Bleecker Street,

or in the subway on 9th, or eaten,

unaware, in the Grand Central Oyster Bar.

Though for different reasons, they would have

admired the colour co-ordination

of the pink elastic bands which restrain

the claws of the live lobsters brought to tables

on metal platters for diners to select.

 

***

 

In ‘Automat’ a pretty young woman

in a beige cloche hat and a dark green

fur trimmed coat sits alone. Behind her

the two rows of the vast automat’s

overhead lights are bleak in the night-filled

plate glass window. Her silk stockinged legs

are crossed beneath the table.  Her dress –

which we can glimpse through her open coat – is tan.

She has removed the black glove from her right hand

to eat whatever was on the small plate

in front of her and to drink her coffee.

 

Maybe she is thinking about the poem

her lover read to her this afternoon:

‘somewhere i have never travelled…your eyes

have their silence… your slightest look easily

will unclose me…nobody, not even

the rain, has such small hands.’

 

 

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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3 Responses
  • Alan Horne
    July 4, 2018

    I very much like the way the poem switches from the open, slow and discursive pace before the asterisks, to a much more snappy rhythm and focus on detail as the painting is described.

  • John Huddart
    July 5, 2018

    This is a fine juxtaposition of artists and ideas – art + art = even more art.

    Why is there an irresistible americanness in New York? Such colour, charm and excitement! Such romance!

    Thanks for bringing New York back into focus. It’s over a year since our family visit, and you’ve made sure it wasn’t the last – in this poem.

  • David Selzer
    July 6, 2018

    Many thanks for the comment, Alan. It’s always good to know intended effects actually work for readers.

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