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.

Heavy Heartedness


My heart cracked with a thud against the cold, dark pavement

As if bouncing some half-deflated, well-worn ball still leaking air

No amount of alchemy can revive this broken, heaving mass

Nor any mortal attempt give back its now dismembered life

Today stands alone, unadorned with yesterday’s promises

And stripped bare of tomorrow’s stillborn pride



Copyright (TZampino) 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay



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The First Sign


There’s always that first sign.

Afternoon glasses of cold tea, with their sticky sweetness and fluorescent green straws, feel so out of place once the cool evening weather sets in.

Hot mugs of cider and cinnamon sticks appear much more proper and dull. At least the skeletal staff of mosquitoes seems to think so.

The backyard leaves quietly begin to fold themselves into shifting piles of reds, and yellows, and browns, and greens attesting to both my lethargy and lack of plans.

The fresh cut smell of grass is quickly fading, while the breeze carries with it a subtle reminder of nearby chimneys that will soon need sweeping.

As the dreadful sound of mowers winds down, neighbors take to prepping their massive winter blowers. I own neither and harbor no regrets.

This plastic furniture will soon be on a winter’s respite, the charcoal and lighter fluid stored away behind the bikes in the garage, and all the windows tightly sealed.

Only then can I finally rest from all this summer laziness.



Copyright (TZampino) 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Day Jobs


There’s not a lot of sympathy for lawyers

Humble is not a word that comes to mind

Nor is gracious, nor is kind


But an assumption that words are for sale

To mean one thing or the other depending

On who’s paying, who’s not


Some that I have known only busted chops

But most just wanted a day job with clean

Hands and puzzles to solve


Hoping to make a buck or two and maybe

Occasionally – by happenstance, by luck –

A small victory at day’s end


And then heading home to family and self

Finding no room between themselves and

The guy delivering pizza


Except that people sure look forward to him



Copyright (TZampino) 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay

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The Lookout


August morning breezes chase the humid air back south

Fall seizes an opening but one not yet big enough to pass through undeterred

For now, the cooler winds must settle for clipping just a handful of feckless leaves

While collaborating with one lone scout charged with spying through the darker days ahead –

A lookout ready to move forward, eager to charge ahead, and yet

Fully convinced that surrender is not a shameful option

And that winter need not always conjure death



Copyright (TZampino) 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay



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Speak To Me Of Luminous Things


Speak to me of luminous things,

things that will get me through the night.

Of shiny swords and cold bright faces that will walk us back to safety.


Speak to me of everlasting things,

things that will reveal their undying presence.

Of coldhearted stones and fortified canyons that one day will outlive us.


Speak to me of mundane things,

things that will ease my mind and split the day.

Of overdue bills and long forgotten friendships that never once valued anything.



* Inspired by Czeslaw Milosz

Copyright (TZampino) 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Nineteen Years On

Dust settled in my lungs.

I tried hard not to breathe

but there was no escape.


What remains after all

these years is the smell:

pulverized cement, burnt metal.


And death. That smell was death.

That dust was death. It became

a part of me through my lungs.


I was just steps away weeks after

watching the silent slaughter from 

my office window. Unimagined violence.


Thousands disintegrating before my

eyes. But an eerie silence protected my

enclave miles to the north.


Red smoke and flames cremated

the lucky ones, those with no

chance to jump.


Buildings collapsed – inward.

Smoke billowed – upward.

Fiery metal shot out – everywhere.


The entire damnation unfolded in

silence. Surreal silence. Surreal death. 

Bloodless death. Undiscoverable death.


A city, a world, stood together for

one moment. Until we sighed, and

laughed, and rebuilt, and forgot.


And pretended otherwise.



Copyright (TZampino) 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Separate yourself from your past,

memories were only meant to warm you

hold them loosely in your pocket.


Separate the day from the night,

dreams were only meant to engage you

let them run wild without constraint.


Separate life from death,

disquiet was meant to make you whole

brazenly celebrate the noise.



Copyright (TZampino) 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay



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Sitting just across from me, you looked away pretending the whole time. But I already knew who you were.

Walking towards our life together, you focused straight ahead. But I already knew we could never turn back.

Raising our babies amid chaos and fun, your face spoke of exhaustion. But I already knew every surrender only brought us closer.

Holding your hand as you slipped away, the night wrapped around us one last time. But I already knew I would find you again.

No doubt sitting just across from me.

No longer even pretending.



Copyright (TZampino) 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Suburban Symphony

The cool breeze that entered through my bedroom window this morning carried with it the call of the bluebird.

Was it trying to impress so as to attract a mate, or was it just fair warning that this spot had already been taken?

I’ll never know for sure.

The cicadas chimed in so that I would not forget them. And the crickets briefly chatted with one another from deep within the bushes below.

The rustling of leaves gave away the squirrels’ game of chase as they bounced from tree to tree and from pole to pole. A game that ended by dislodging the bluebird from its throne.

One lone owl – from who knows where – kept the measure of it all with its faint but distinctive sound.

Within an hour the mowers and the rakes and the gas propelled blowers would cut through the morning with an uninterrupted decibel range more inclined towards pain than delight.

But it’s all part of today’s suburban symphony. Lamentations that would soon conclude in stunning silence.

And the bluebird returns just in time for its afternoon recital.


Copyright (TZampino) 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay 

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The sky has invited your eyes upward so as to convince you that the sun’s warmth will last forever – but you’re not so easily fooled. And the night soon rolls back in.

The ocean has invited your body to come dance with it among the tides assuring you that they will never end – but you know better. And the waves soon retrace their steps.

The present has invited your ego to exert every effort on those things that will surely distract you until death – but you are terrified of losing it all. And everything soon disappears.

Your heart has invited you to live wanting nothing more than to extract the magic that lies dormant within your soul – but your head can’t let it go. And love, too, soon slips away.

Yes, you have always been invited.

But now it is truly time to go.



Copyright (TZampino) 2020

Image Credit: Pixabay

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