The Poetry of Joseph Zaccardi







The Words in Letters
           ––after Zhang Zao

A letter opens and time turns back a letter opens and a wound appears a letter opens with an apology and closes with an exclamation point a letter opens and the words are like birds flying in a hail storm and I cross out the names in my green book and a letter opens and there’s a note about birthdays and deadlines and I cross out all my little mercies and gifts and I cross out name after name in my red book of loans and repayments I am now unaccountable as if that matters and a letter opens with open sesame but I have no words to close the mouth of a cave when a letter opens and I lowercase your name or underline your name and your letter says I love you more since I know how much I make you suffer and I open your letter again and your warm breath falls like a kiss on my face a letter opens and says wherever you choose to be there you will be and the words in the letter I open will not give me the time of day anymore and I cross out names in my black book and highlight the ones I want and copy edit the entries with symbols using asterisks and bullets and a voice hides in my throat as I am un-Whitmanesque and I will not celebrate myself by myself as I lie in my leaves of letters because they are so easily torn.

––from Salamander

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