Ekphrastic Poetry – Chop Suey by Edward Hopper

There’s a meme doing the rounds on Twitter currently (not that I spend my whole life on social media, you understand) about which famous painting best represents your soul. I went for Van Gogh’s Starry Night but a huge thanks to Annabel Gaskell for choosing Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, which reminded me how much I love his depictions of urban loneliness and angst. My favourite of his paintings is Chop Suey, so much so that I wrote a little poem about it. It’s been far too long since I shared any of my poetry, so here it is, thanks to Annabel!

To warm your fingers on the teapot

till the bruise-blue tinge subsides.

To allow the pallor of the windowblind

mimic the green in your dress.

To know that vegetable wontons will never be as filling as duck

but all you can afford.

To keep the hat on and feel the flash of neon lights

mock the expensive lipstick he gave you for your birthday.

To wait for the office gossip to die down.

To wait for him to leave his wife.

To wait for the order that never seems to come

for single women on the second floor of that small lunch place

in Chinatown.

13 thoughts on “Ekphrastic Poetry – Chop Suey by Edward Hopper”

  1. I’ve seen this challenge and was intrigued by it.
    Love what you have done with it, the poem reads very real and vivid and in a way, unreal as well, because it reminds me of observing and giving a story of my own – which could be spot on but could also be so so far from the truth.

  2. I agree, you’ve captured the spirit of the painting beautifully; what an interesting meme as well, something to think about!

  3. It’s wonderful to hear something original from you. Sending love for the day, and ‘coo-raj’!

  4. Thanks for these observations on the Hopper painting and your poem Marina. Poetry is always a useful way to respond to what we see and feel as you have done here. I would choose Guernica, although I’ve no idea how to download it. It evokes both my first reading of Sartre and the time when I saw it in the States before it was moved to Madrid.

    I saw a recent exhibition in The Ashmolean, (sp?) kOxford where an Iraqi artist evoked the same destructive visions in a powerful and searing way.The state of my soul? Sometimes I think so.

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