: Edward Hopper (1930) :

an excerpt by Arthur Vogelsang


Slim pickings on the street yesterday

And now it's today.

On the bus, an argument about mercy.

It wasn't two old codgers

Making the mouth racket

Over the shifting of the big GM gears

And with the inspiration of taxi horns

In discord just below us.

It was one person who spoke both sides-

Better to give mercy, best to receive mercy?

Some of the riders were interested to eavesdrop,

Especially when he asked himself

Whether the donor or the recipient

Would feel pain, without the mercy,

Or, then, genius madman, he asked himself

If one or each would feel pain

With or without the mercy.

I counted sixteen possible outcomes

And might have spoken to him but

Had to get off, the stop at that window

Where two bare mannequins were waiting

The day before yesterday, and still waited.

They have the ballet in this town, huzzah,

They have plays uptown and downtown, thanks be,

And there is an eastside and a westside

For ships and bookstores, Jewish food,

And exotic martinis if you need one once

In a while, hooray. All the men wear grey

And all the women wear burgundy and black.