Richard Modiano: Three Poems

Elected Executive Director of Beyond Baroque in 2010, Richard Modiano is a writer, curator, and editor.  In 2007 he produced Beyond Baroque’s “On the Road” 50th Anniversary marathon reading and 2009 he produced the marathon reading and panel discussion of“William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch at 50.” He has been a member of the Industrial Workers of the World since 1974.

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At the Subway Station

                             A young man approaching
                           and a woman, turning her back
               on him without a word, and
going out to the sidewalk

A man in a sudden outburst of anger
      at a woman who appears to
             have come late for their date

A group of girl students, each
      hand in hand with a friend, their free hands
       hailing a taxi

A plump middle-aged woman
            approaching with rapid
      mincing steps

Every face looking totally intent on some
       immediate intimate aim

What I noticed
       coming from
       the death bed of my brother



A Bar in Hiroshima

A girl bar with red
        neon, called “Riddle”
The young woman took a seat
        on the bar stool next to me
“Nihongo wa diajoubu?” she
asked me “Ee, diajoubu yo”

        A blast of cool air
chilled the sweat on my
and carried her scent
        She smelled good
but I noticed the
        mamasan behind
             the bar
Why did she name the bar “Riddle”?

        The mamasan answers,
“It sounds exotic and it seems to
        pose a question about life”

She was eight when the bomb
        killed her mother and sister—
She still carries scars from
        the glass that slashed her body

Hiroshima City August 7 2005


At the Rainbow Bar & Grill


       Sitting in the upstairs

bar of the Rainbow next to

a good looking woman waiting

for my friends—

       The bar tender isn’t

bad looking either—I like

her lipstick—

       The good looking

woman wears no make-up

but her fingernails

are long and red—

       She drinks

a glass of red wine—

       The bartender sets a glass and

a bottle of mineral water before me—

       The good looking woman says,

“Whatcha writin’?”

       She has smooth

ebony skin, straight

shoulder-length black hair

parted down the middle,

brown eyes under long


        “I’m drafting an

article for my private


“Yeah? Where’s it published?”

“In my mind”

        She touched my ring

finger with her index finger

and stroked it with

her red painted nail—

        “No wedding ring?”

“No wedding ring”

        She smiled—

My friends arrived, my

girlfriend arrived and

I gripped my glass with my

left hand—

        I got up and greeted

my friends and put my arm

around my girlfriend—

        The good looking woman slid off the barstool

walked over to

me and pulled my sleeve so

I leaned toward her and she

whispered in my ear,

        “Relationships, such a

ball and chain”                  

        “Yes, you have a

nice night too”


(Author photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher)

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