Author Archives: Tom Zampino

Tom Zampino is an attorney in private practice in New York City who makes his home on Long Island. He and his beautiful and accomplished wife have raised two fantastic daughters, four cats, two dogs, and various other domesticated creatures over the past three decades. He formerly blogged at the Catholic Channel at Patheos.

Home

 

You aren’t alone in your contempt for the world for I stand with you.

But neither are you alone in your delight of the things that make a home.

The sleeping child, secure in the knowledge that we will battle any monster that might call in the night.

The absurdity of unrelenting forgiveness.

And the fiery embrace of these four walls. A place of shelter, but one primed to incinerate every unfamiliar intrusion.

Whatever hurts, whatever scars, sit at our table need not be nurtured nor long entertained, only accepted.

Thus freeing our hands so that the world might finally fall away from our grip.

Peace

© TZampino 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Writing Poetry

 

The hardest part about writing poetry, at least sometimes, is not knowing how it will end and how I will get there.

It usually flows pretty easily at first – like that time I told you about the hardest part about writing poetry.

Then I might fumble a bit in the middle as I buy some time, looking for something clever to say while trying to avoid becoming self-referential.

And then comes the ending.

It usually takes even me by surprise.

Especially today, since I’ve been daydreaming this whole time, vividly recalling my younger days as a pilot flying solo for the US Post Office in Omaha.

Back in the 1940s.

The decade before I was born.

 

Peace

© TZampino 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay

 

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Enough

 

Side by side and hand in hand, neither of us sure about what comes next.

Two score years of exhaustive honesty, backhanded compliments, and salt – 

that sometimes flavor enhancer equally adept at intensifying old wounds.

 

Nothing about the walk still ahead will permit even a hint of pretense or pride.

Nothing about it will charm us into believing that we can start back over again.

Only the two of us, side by side and hand in hand, willing to just be.

 

And today, that’s enough.

 

Peace

© TZampino 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Small Talk

 

How does one fully grieve for a father? One who left some time ago.

One whose memory is stirred up again as I sit alone on my front porch, remembering our last conversation when we sat side by side on his.

Words were mostly awkward between us, and always difficult to come by. But the small talk that passed for conversation on that particular day served a purpose. Deflecting big talk about big things.

Things like decaying bodies, failing minds, death.

Our meager words that day were occasionally punctuated by the clomp-clomp-clomping of the horses and buggies trotting down this rural street. We would stop and watch. Exactly the picturesque scene that he had fantasied about long before he settled there.

Another conversational deflection, no doubt.

But a deflection that had also provided some meaning after a lifetime of endless traffic, long daily commutes, grimy city streets, and constant noise.

Perhaps a taste of what was just ahead.

It occurred to me that today’s misspent grief was only partially about some distant memory. I find myself engaging more and more in small talk with those who will one day look back on my own words, porch or no porch.

Small talk that attempts to pass for conversation, that tries to deflect – not always successfully.

But small talk that still serves a purpose.

At least for now.

 

Peace

© TZampino 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay

 

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She, A Life

 

The lines in her face conceded a generation of secrets.

Ones perfectly ordinary yet embarrassingly withheld.

A life of chaos deemed irreparable, but always with

a handful of unused chances given over, and

silent spaces ready to restore.

 

How much lovelier would she have felt with a hint

of truth revealing just how ordinary she truly was?

 

Peace

© TZampino 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay

 

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Carry On

 

That pain in your gut, those tears flowing down the contours of your cheek, reveal nothing more than your singular humanity.

Even time spent alone reminds us there can be no consciousness of the whole until each of its fragments are freely acknowledged.

Just know that surrender and loss were never meant to be the final payoff – for they are charlatans withholding riches just beyond your shattered grasp.

Carry on.

 

Peace

© Copyright TZampino 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay

 

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Seated On A Park Bench

Seated on a park bench overlooking the great bay, I find myself embracing the sounds sneaking up from behind.

A ragtag band of well-wishers is heading this way. Sounds reminiscent of a generation’s jazz greats – all of the enthusiasm, none of the skill.

It’s a day to welcome home the men and women from our town whose talents, both inborn and coerced, allowed us to thrive here full-throated and free of chains.

The ship and the rag-taggers arrive simultaneously, as if that were somehow planned far in advance. But nothing was planned.

The ship’s transports descend and disappear among us. Ghosts from another era.

The band quickly follows.

Seated on a park bench overlooking the great bay, I find myself embracing the sounds sneaking up from behind.

Sounds now freshly covered in silence.

 

Peace

Copyright (TZampino) 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay

 

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After Walt Whitman’s: I Saw In Louisiana A Live-Oak Growing

 

The mangled limbs bent low enough for me to sit, but only with my feet limp and nearly double-crossed on the ground.

The branches gave in slightly from the heft of my body but pushed back just as hard, taking my measure, steadying my grip.

The sun breached the morning shadows and this November day began to feel more like a spring day back home.

How impressive was this twisted concoction, a monument to the handiwork set in motion a generation or two before.

How utterly obsessed was I with this now continuous dance: breathing, watching, absorbing, separating, pretending, uniting.

This was not the New Orleans that I had imagined, but it was the one that I needed and the timing was just about perfect.

Peace

© TZampino 2020

Photo Credit: My Own Photo, New Orleans, 2019

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