I met a modern man

by James B. Nicola Issue: Spring/Summer 2019

I met a modern man one day
    Who looked but could not see
The me in front of him for all
    The tags attached to me.

He noted I was someone of
    My height, weight, age and race.
And from my accent, he could tell
    That I’d come from some place.

Wanting to know how much I made
    He asked me what I do
And how much that profession paid:
    I told him and he knew.

He took note of the model and
    The year of what I drive
And nodded at my home address
    When he asked me where I live.

I’ve met this man so often, friends
    Have seen a change in me,
The onset of a rather quirksome

Now, when I meet a modern man
     And he asks such-and-such,
I make up facts, then ask him, Does
     It matter all that much?

Whatever salary I make
    You are welcome to half;
And if you’re homeless, my home’s yours.

    When homeless gets a laugh—


He’s never homeless—there is hope.
    Then I ask him a thing or two,
Like favorite parks, and types of days.
    I like snow—what about you?

If by then he has not beaten
    The hastiest retreat
I might inquire, Say have you eaten?
    Let’s go somewhere and eat!

And then I get that modern man
    To talk of other things
Than things, like parks and snow and men
    Who don’t enjoy such things.

Then I pick up the check and treat
     So that he owes me one
And it’s up to him whether or not
     A friendship has begun.

My friends point out I can’t afford
    To treat like this, but I’m
Determined to give modern man
    A chance. And it saves time.

James B. Nicola

James B. Nicola’s poems have appeared in the Antioch, Southwest, and Atlanta Reviews; Rattle; Tar River; and Poetry East. His full-length collections are Manhattan Plaza (2014), Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (2016), Wind in the Cave (2017), Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists (2018), and Quickening: Poems from Before and Beyond (2019). His nonfiction book Playing the Audience won a Choice award. His poetry has received a Dana Literary Award, two Willow Review awards, a People's Choice award from Storyteller, and six Pushcart Prize nominations—from Shot Glass Journal, Parody, Ovunque Siamo, Lowestoft Chronicle, and twice from Trinacria—for which he feels both stunned and grateful.