Joseph Zaccardi

On a Walk Late in the Day Chrysanthemums rot along the wayside.An old woman sidles by Cradling a bundle of shallots.Wordless, we pass each other. Her eyes are white jade.Wind takes more leaves from the thinning trees. Storms come fast on rivers and lakes;I stop to pick up fallen horse chestnuts. The universe has one voice.What does one do with sadness? Climb a mountain slowly:Old stone, new moss. The hours leave me.Dust and smoke in the west. My head is full of crows.

Singing Wind on the Willow Trail Behind veils there are other veils;Behind every color other colors. Waterfall shares with rock,Moss and rock and sand and rock. Walking alone, mourning alone,I listen to the singing wind’s song. The sky stretches to find more sky;Dew collects on willow fronds at dawn. I drink its promise of immortality,And mimosa leaves fold at midnight. There are bitter roots and reeds and tares;There are pricks and stings of thorns and briars. Who does not yearn for sweet yam,For apple-seed wine and tender sprouts? Red after a thousand years turns green.Listen to the strings and strands unravel. Listen to the unheard sounds of weavingHidden in the music of a million leaves.

There Is a Sword in Every Song After the long journey to solitude,There was much to be done and redone, And so it was decreed the steepRock cliffs above the Wei River Be cut and hewed to bring forth a city,To bring order to the unordered. The women of that time workedThe salt mines, and their whitened faces Were rilled with their tears.They would sing the praises Of the eighth great-grandson of the Yellow Emperor,A musing and mourning sound, And how before his forced suicideThe emperor studied the uneven Tail feathers of a caged swallow,Listened to the singsong of the oriole.

Joseph Zaccardi is a veteran who taught colloquial American English in Đồng Tháp, Cao Lãnh, Vietnam, from 1979 to 1980. He is the author of five books of poetry including, most recently, The Weight of Bodily Touches from Kelsay Books. His poems have appeared in Cincinnati Review, Poetry East, Atlanta Review, Rattle, Salamander, and elsewhere. Zaccardi is a member of the LGBTQ community, and served as the poet laureate of Marin County, California, from 2013 to 2015.