Edward Hopper’s Boy and Moon
(Variations on a Theme)

the boy awakens from a time
of flying, a dim hallway
littered with tintypes,
daguerrotypes, faces
of bearded men, women
in bonnets and lace, blank
stares, blurred hands fluttering
when the shutter clicked

the walls of his room
painted in the sullen
hues of a midnight sky
two or three stars, moon
riding the horizon like
a budding mushroom

he holds his blanket high
hopes that sleep will not
hover beyond his reach
until dawnlight

the boy cannot sleep in
the cold rush of a midnight
moonrise, the walls
of his room crumbled,
broken away, the eye
of a full moon staring
from beyond gray hills

a river holds the lemon
lunar reflection, black birds
swoop and curl to pluck
fireflies from their perches
in the pearl-gray sky

the boy finds no solace
in a comforter pulled
close to his chin

the boy dreams of
waking up, of flying
with black birds to a nest
beneath the blossoming
midnight moon, a silver
strip of water to slake
his thirst, ears attuned
to falling calls that echo
across far gray hills

he floats on the feathered
boat of his pillow

the boy sits stiffly
in his bed, a comforter
his shield against the chill
of a sleepless predawn sky
the wall of his room
somehow lost without
a storm or quake, a distant
river beyond the fear-laden
forest outside what might
have been a window

black birds like Icarus
too close to the blooming
moon, three stars glaring
down in the pearl-gray sky
the moon about to bury
itself in smoke, in dust

the boy waits motionless
for filaments of dawn to touch
aspens in lambent yellow
and green, silver filigree
on the waterskin of the river

waits for dawnlight to chase
black birds beyond the moon’s
glistening shoulder

I live in a dream of flying
with ravens to a yolk-
and-lemon moon, riding
on a cloak of midnight

over a quicksilver river
awakening in moonrise
over oak and pine entwined
with ivies, over copses tinged
with primeval sadness

there are cries for help
and arms reaching up
to the ravens, to the moon
to me, but it is cold
and stark and still
the dark sky muffling
everything to a whisper

the boy awakens in a dream
of predawn moonrise
a rippled river, tangled
forest, ravens riding
high in a silent sky

I live in a time of talons,
ravens flying to a midnight
moon, rising on smoke
and dust in a pearl-gray sky,
vigilant and sleepless





James K. Zimmerman is an award-winning, neurodivergent writer, frequently a Pushcart Prize nominee. His work appears in various publications, including Atlanta Review, Carolina Quarterly, Folio, Nimrod, and Rattle. His poetry is also featured on The Poetry Foundation, American Life in Poetry, and Vallum. He is the author of Little Miracles (Passager Books) and Family Cookout (Comstock), winner of the Jessie Bryce Niles Prize. He resides at the crepuscular edge between this universe and the one next door. He can be contacted at https://jameskzimmerman.net.

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