Ekphrasis poem based on Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”
Spoilered cuz large image:
Once A Week
The diner sits on the corner of 6th and Lake,
same as it always has.
Conquest, the counterman in white,
pours his friend a coffee,
same as he always does.
The counterman’s friend has a nickname too,
he goes by Famine,
and his plate sits empty, same as it always does.
While Conquest serves his friend,
he chats with two other patrons.
The woman goes by ‘War,’
“Suitable name for a woman who
always wears a blood-red dress,”
the bartender noted when they first met.
The woman in red came with a man on her arm,
same as she always does.
This man chose the nickname ‘Death,’
but he’s much better company than his name would suggest.
There, at the diner on 6th and Lake,
sits Death, War, Famine, and Conquest,
same as they always do.
Each week, it’s the same time and the same place
They come together in the same clothes,
and put the exact same portion
of stale bread and canned fruit on their plates.
(Except for Famine, who prefers a coffee, and is
always fifteen minutes late).
They bring fake names and tales of fake glory.
They talk of life as it once was and debate
news stories that are over a decade old.
Outside, on the city’s hollowed boulevards,
their nightmares circle, waiting, same as they always do.
The pain of watching infection drive a loved-one to die.
The horror of watching the last helicopter leave you behind.
The heavy solitude of survivor’s guilt that weighs on your mind,
and the suffocating isolation that comes with being trapped in a city with no escape,
all of those nightmares awaits.
Here sit the last four living people
that can be found wandering the streets
of a city otherwise deserted.
Once a week, they meet.
Same as they always do.