Nighthawks, after Hopper

The world, of course, is dead.
                It was my father's as this could
be Nickel Charlie's, the all-night restaurant
next to Loew's Poli in New Haven where he'd repair
after the graveyard shift on the Journal-Courier.

                A linotype operator his fingers
swam beside a window propped up by Four Roses
against a smothering night. Wasn't, though, this
lead and whiskey universe he died from since

he retired punching the copy out of tape under
                a livid, technical flourescence - which
is of my world of course. And I must
                sit among these waiting nighthawks
to become

the one who shows a slice of face and who observes
                the hard-edged guy, nondescript
in the dark suit of his time with gray fe-
                dora and black band. I wear
it too, sniffing the coffee, hearing the chromium hiss
                of the polished urns, watching
the redhead

                check her nails. Diner of
the Heart.
A blondish counterman thrusts down his arms
                like old women washing clothes
in the rivers which erode exhausted cities.
                The redhead played
367 for a year and it came out
the day she stopped. I say nothing,
having myself run out

of numbers, bad luck entombed
in the wool of my suit.

But then I mumble past
                the obligation of our unconcern
that I'll play it, three, six, seven staring out at nothing from the bright space
                of terror. She says play a quarter
for me.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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