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The Edward Hopper Retrospective.mp3




The man's dead
so I suppose that any looking
at the paintings
must be backwards
though I read someplace that
even when alive, he often held
the paintings back
unsigned, few dates
stuck in back rooms
didn't say much about it
never spoke much at all
married late, precipitating
his sensual period
painted the wife a few times
and let her do the talking
when the guests dropped by.

Today in Pasadena, two earnest gents
with full gray heads
one electric as Einstein's
both in shirts and slacks pressed
sharp and clean as the neighborhood Chinese
could squeeze it
scuttle and murmur through this gallery.
Old Left, I figure
readers of Fearing
totalling between them maybe
six or eight votes for Norman Thomas.
"He said it right in this one,"
one gent says
and the other nods
and they both stand there
looking and nodding
at a barren gas station
on the wall in Pasadena–
and I'm thinking
what do these gray gents see
that famous Hopper loneliness
some moody Americana?
do they picture Tom Joad stopping for a fill-up?
Dillinger knocking over the joint for pocket money?
what did Hopper trigger right in that one
something from a film or book?
or some gas station they remember
thirty, forty years ago.

That solitary painter, these eminent gents
an art museum in Pasadena.
I try to find
the proper retrospective.

–Tony Quagliano