“The Hat” by Joseph Zaccardi

Joseph Zaccardi


The street sings with traffic and side-walkers wind along
on the hard slick stone and a man pushes a Safeway cart
he is dirty and pale and skinny and people swish past and
cars rush by no one has the time to stop for the little man
did I mention the little man starts to yell his eyes bulge
his voice cracks there’s something he’s trying to get out
the crowd backs up the traffic speeds by and the little man
rips off his shirt tosses his hat into the street one car brakes
is rear-ended by another car the crowd leans in to watch
his hat land dead center between the broken white lines
on the blacktop and someone spouts the little man’s hat
as a beat cop pushes past gawkers and says move along folks
and directs the motorist to pull over to the curb to discuss
the little man and the little man’s hat once again and again
as if nothing happened a new crowd of walkers assembles
the traffic jam unjams and the shirtless little man mentioned
before picks up a smoldering cigarette butt and takes a drag
and watches the curl of smoke rise once again and again
he pushes his cart toward the Tenderloin and shouts again
about his hat and a well-heeled gentleman says
no one wants your hat sir
no one wants it

from Rattle #67, Spring 2020


Joseph Zaccardi: “Poetry came alive for me in the 6th grade when my teacher, Sister Francesca, gave me a small book of poems by W.C. Williams—a gift, alas, that I’ve lost track of. Perhaps the power of poetry is that it stays with you, even when it is not with you. I have no working process that I can recognize or describe. Each day is a tree of verbal apples one may climb; he is usually up there, unless he is after the even more delectable fruits of silence. Each day he tosses seeds; each day he retrieves just sprouted words.” (web)

Rattle Logo