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poetry Parade Rest

California poet Joseph Zaccardi reminds us that war veterans carry their burdens through their lifetimes.

Parade Rest

By Joseph Zaccardi


Living in the past means to remember in the present for this 

is about my stint on a Search & Rescue team in Nam when

my task back then was to determine first if the corpse was

intact or not and if not I was to gather their body parts

and personal items such as dog tags IDs and family snapshots

and enclose everything in a heavy-duty black rubberized

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sack and this is how I lost parts of myself in those moments

as I think back on this task because I knew the intact bodies

and the bodies in parts would be shipped freezer-wrapped

back to their homes and families for military burials

attended by a detail of two honor guards in dress blues

whose duty was to remove the American flag from the

casket and fold it into a cocked three-corner hat so that the

stars were arrayed on both sides then one Marine would

surrender the flag to the bereaved and tell them the  

president of these United States expresses his condolences

on the loss of their beloved one who faithfully defended

their country in the just cause of freedom while the other

Marine bugles Taps on behalf of a government who buries

bodies free of charge whether whole or in parts.

Joseph Zaccardi says to write a single poem is a selfless act and a minor miracle. But miracles, minor or otherwise, don’t happen by happenstance; they are engendered in part by hard work and in part by the generous help of others. In times of trouble people often turn to poems, and poems often turn into prayers. Joseph is author of Songbirds of the Nine Rivers, published by Sixteen Rivers Press, 2023.