richard modiano, two poems

a word

(Poem for Iris Berry)

You have to select a word—
It will be talked about as little as possible
and have a deep suggestiveness like nature,
bloom from within itself,
and at the edge of the fate encircling you
it will become darkly and sweetly ripened

Of a hundred experiences it always
will be the sum total of only one—
One teardrop
becomes the harvest all tear drops,
a single point of red neon on Hollywood Blvd. on a dark evening
is the light of the whole world

And after that your poem
like a substance entirely fresh,
released far away from your memory,
the same as a chord plucked from a Stratocaster,
the same as haze over the San Fernando Valley in spring,
will suddenly begin to sing from its own recollection

Rimbaud knew better

Rimbaud knew better than
to save any of himself for the grave–
He spent every resource to the last penny–
He burned
money, health, friends, family, sanity
as so much fuel for the fire–
When Death came to take the poet
He got nothing, not even a man
with his pride or common sense in tact–
When He comes for me
What will He find?

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