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.



A memory flashes from years before.

Or was it only a dream?

I can no longer really tell the difference between things once coveted and those lost along the way. Nothing much remains except the exhilarating smell of youth.

And even that is fading.

Memories may well anchor my present, but they have also buried my past. And tomorrow remains just some illusion, well hidden behind walls that are still being built.

I was once told about a line resting somewhere between self-deception and reality. I’ve long since learned that it’s moving target, one easily breached. Memories and dreams are very much like that.

Once we discover how to surrender them both.


Copyright 2019

Image Credit: Pixabay


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Even shadows find their way back from the dark. What makes you think you are any different?

You long ago monetized your independence for daydreams you still cannot afford. Is it that you are only now beginning to notice?

It’s time to distance yourself from your yesterdays. Time to push through the mid-night hour. Time to account for the costs remaining.

One last time.


Copyright 2019

Image Credit: Pixabay


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Blue Jay


A single blue jay – science tells us that its tufted feathers make it a part of the Cyanocitta cristata family – keeps circling my backyard. I sit just a few feet away, a cold sweet drink and e-reader in hand, on a sun-blistered, suburban gray deck. If I had a stopwatch, I might be tempted to record the minutes passing between each attempt at a meal. (One was wholly successful, though – the target still writhing moments after being sucked out of its underground hiding place.)

I can only guess why this garrulous creature continues to eye me. Trying, perhaps, to calculate just how long it will take for me to pounce on him once I make some threatening movement in his general direction.

I won’t, of course.

I have no future plans for him, either dead or alive. I’m not really sure that he’d fully appreciate that even if he understood.

Well, he’s free to stay as long as he’d like this summer. He can even bring some friends next time.

I’ll be sitting here, sipping from my now cool drink – perhaps even reading – just a bit longer.


Copyright 2019

Image credit: Pixabay


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The memories have all faded a bit.

Some of the finer details have already been lost to the ongoing war. The one engaging my brain, the one I am slowly losing.

The faintest smell once retrieved the sharpest colors. Today, even a photograph cannot convince me of my existence in that very moment.

I suppose that older memories need sometimes fall away so to make room for the day’s latest renderings, however temporary they too may be. Not unlike the air my lungs release so that I can fully breathe in again, one more time.

Surely memories make life that much sweeter.

But today –

today is life itself.


Copyright 2019

Image Credit: Pixabay


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Campus And Country


Cutting across the pine and oak tree lined paths scattered throughout the campus was likely the first time that I experienced the feeling.

Coming of age in a small town had left me unprepared to be counted among the 25,000 people who – communally, and in one generation – had turned this sunny, suburban setting into the hardened, street-wise, every person for themselves institution it had quickly become.

It occurred to me, as I walked by the main lecture hall, the one nearest the student union, that I was really quite alone here, despite the all too many times I instinctively had to step aside for those racing from one end of the quad to the next. Even the six hundred student lecture hall often felt more like some solitary confinement than a place of shared learning.

I learned to accept the alone time, learned, even, to embrace the Balkanization that came so naturally, so ironically, to such a grand public university.

E pluribus pluribus, I suppose.

In many ways, we as a people have been on a similar path for some time. We still coexist in a common place, in a common era, one that once chased after so many common goals. And not long ago, few would have snickered at the idea – and the ideal – of life in a small town. Neighbor caring for neighbor, doors left unlocked throughout the night.

But today, divisiveness is the rule, hatred our common currency.

Decency and civility were long ago relegated to all things quaint. Politicians and corporations, journalists and scientists, fall over one another in a race to show just how enlightened we have become – even as we continue to bash each other into a deadly silence.

Our goals no longer neatly align, our methods diverge completely.

We have always rightly cherished our hard-won independence. We must always continue do so. At the same time, we would do well to begin searching for ways to re-embrace our shared heritage, to look once again for those things that long ago created as much a movement as a country. We are, after all, still bound tightly together.

And we will remain so, either in hope or in death.


Copyright 2019

Image Credit: Pixabay


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At first they seem to intertwine, deep in the middle of the night.

Measured beats, taking turns. As if some percussionist were racing between my alarm clock and the bathroom sink. A sharp-tongued steady tick followed by an inexhaustible delicate flop. Then a return trip. And another after that. Keeping score, keeping time.

Even as I try to sleep.

But the occasional off-beat can also be heard if I pay long enough attention. The faucet suddenly relieves itself in a short, winding sigh. One that makes the sink gurgle with delight, eager as it is to consume the excess flow.

And then a quick return back to rhythm. Maybe not quite the same as before. A new song, a different beat.

Sometimes the sounds are so completely in sync that just a single one thereafter splits the night.

At least for a time.

At least until they can find a safe place to cycle back out again.

A reminder, here in these sleepless hours, that time doesn’t so much demand our constancy as our movement.

And, perhaps, just a bit of patience through it all.


Copyright 2019

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Summer Mist


The marsh still holds back a secret or two from this inhibited city dweller. The silence can be as unnerving as it is inviting.

Rarely for me does an ordinary day pass uninterrupted by sirens, the hot urgencies of some trembling subway tracks, and street music both unadorned and unrequited.

It’s a rhythm one soon enough adopts as their own.

But today solitary, unfiltered quiet.

My body is bathed in the steamy, rolling mist that quickly disappears just behind me. And the liquid smell reminds me just how far I’ve traveled. Not a trace of freshly poured concrete or stale city sweat remain on my clothes or in my brain.

There’s not enough time here to breathe it all in. But my lungs and my blood will carry a part of this all back with me.

And then, when I can finally open my eyes again, I’ll remember the quiet.


Copyright 2019

Image Credit: My Own Photo (Wells, Maine)

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Mysteries And Trust


They really aren’t mysteries any more.

Those things that sometimes kept us awake at nights wondering, compelling us toward higher ground by casting us down to our knees. Too numerous to count, some musings appeared far too uncertain to be trustworthy or even minimally acceptable.

Yet there they were.

And they were just as real to us, just as practical, just as inviting as the local coffee shop. Their existence seemed always to point toward a way out, convincing us of our rectitude.

But drowning in information, we are now too afraid to breathe. When every question can be unlocked by a fingerprint, imagination finds itself hiding somewhere beyond the next offering of fact. Speculation long ago became an anomaly, and doubt itself is enough to be feared.

Yet we probably still sense that not every answer is necessary, not every data set worthwhile, not every mystery need be quickly solved.

If only we can remember how to trust.


Copyright 2019

Image Credit: Pixabay


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Thin Lines


There’s a thin line between being mindful of our appearance and actually drowning in narcissism. There’s another that separates well-intentioned selflessness from horrific self-abasement.

Whatever we allow to be seen from the outside, however cleverly we may position ourselves, more often speaks to our poverty than to our wealth, to our weaknesses than to our strengths.

It’s only when we are no longer afraid to see ourselves fully, to recognize the dual-natured creatures we have always been, that we can finally begin to recast our discordant relationships.

Peace between us is obtainable. But only if we can first find ourselves disguised deep within the other.

There’s a thin line standing between us. One that is continually being breached.

Even when we intentionally fail to notice.


Copyright 2019

Image Credit: Pixabay


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Who Knows?


I think that today just might be the first time I will find a way to convince you.

For years, you mistook my complaints for lack of affection. But I was never really upset with you.

It’s just my nature.

Yes, there were many nights that I kept you awake. The middle of the night has always been a time when I finally feel safe enough to release some of the anxiety that’s built up during the day.

And the times when I lashed out at you – seemingly for no reason and right when we were enjoying some peace together – well, that too is just part of who I am. I think you may get that after all of these years together.

Know that I’ve always respected you. For your kindness, your firmness, your willingness to sacrifice for me. I am grateful for all you’ve done. And on some level, I really do think I can grow to love you as much as you love me. Just give it some time.

But I hope that you won’t try to reach out to me right now. At least not until I tell you that it’s ok. And even then I reserve the right to suddenly reject you.

For now, let me just seat here beside you.

Who knows, I may not really be ignoring you after all?


The Cat


Copyright 2019

Image Credit: Pixabay


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