an on-line poetry magazine
for the 21st century


Richard Modiano


By chance
I was there for
the 50th anniversary of the truce
Dublin, July 11, 1971
and chatted up the woman who

was a Provo as it happened
and later we had pints in the pub
with her comrades, and even though
she didn’t share my bed as I’d hoped
I agreed to visit Londonderry

with news, Free Derry, the war zone
in Bogside, “You Are Now Entering Free Derry”
the graffito read, I saw it beyond the checkpoint
where the SAS braced me and checked my passport,
a Yank, and not an Irish Yank —

“You’re going into a dangerous area and we can’t
protect you,” a clueless American tourist they thought
but I had a mission, I had news in a fat envelope
to deliver at a pub on Rossville Street

What did I know?

All eyes on me when I walked in, I ordered a pint,
they heard my accent
I asked for Tom, “Who wants to see him?”
“A friend of Claire in Dublin”
Tom was at the bar right beside me, neatly dressed

in tie and jacket, “This is for you” I handed him the envelope
which he took without opening, “Another for my friend”
Another pint set before me, we drank and talked about
the nice weather, the evening dart game coming up,
followed by a little song and music

But I didn’t stay for that,
I took the next bus to Belfast and then
the ferry to Scotland, never to see any of these
new comrades again while six months later,
safe at home, I read about the massacre,

Bloody Sunday, they called it —
that was 50 years ago, the Truce a 100 years ago
and today a new war (has war ever stopped?),
the war zone on the nightly news,
the suffering, the fear, the appeals

unchanged on this different terrain,
and I have no news to deliver, nothing to offer,
but the intangible may peace prevail —

RICHARD MODIANO is Director Emeritus of Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center in Venice, California. The Huffington Post named him as one of 200 people doing the most to promote poetry in the United States. He is the 2022 winner of Joe Hill Prize for labor poetry, and his collection The Forbidden Lunch Box is published by Punk Hostage Press.