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JOSEPH FRANCIS SALERNO

Solitary Traveler Crossing a Foot Bridge |
Enjoying a Book of Poetry on a Spring Afternoon | Ant on a Willow Leaf

Joe Salerno, as he prefered to be called, was born in the Bronx on April 2, 1947, and moved to New Jersey with his family when he was seven. He received his B.A. in English at Fairleigh Dickinson University where he edited the literary magazine Now. His graduate work was done at the University of Michigan under the tutelage of such distinguished poets as Donald Hall and Robert Hayden. In 1972, Salerno won the Hopwood Award, Michigan's most coveted prize for poetry. This honor is further distinguished by its being won by exceptional American writers such as Arthur Miller, John Ciardi, X.J. Kennedy, Jane Kenyon, and Gregory Orr.

Although Salerno received his doctoral degree and taught for some years at the undergraduate level, the concerns of marriage and family compelled him to work in the private sector as a technical writer, a job he did surpassingly well in spite of a lifelong aversion to technology. He continued to write poetry and to publish in such well-known magazines as Wormwood Review and Yankee, as well as receiving a 1982 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship in poetry.

Joe Salerno died of lung cancer on November 22,1995, and is survived by his wife, Beverly, and his three children, David, Miriam, and Daniel. Since his death, two collections of his work have been published, one titled Only Here was published by The efforts of The Skylands Writers Association, Inc, and many "Friends of Salerno" who donated funding for the book. It received good reviews and sold out in the first year of publication. Next, his manuscript, The Song of Tulip Tree, was published as winner of the Annual $2,000 Bordighera Press Poetry Prize, http://www.ItalianAmericanWriters.com with translations by Emanuel di Pasquale. See also, http://www.gioseffi.com Selected by Felix Stefanile, Distinguished Judge for 1998, the book is distributed by Bordighera Press and the Small Press Distribution Center, as well as on the Joe Salerno poetry page, published by Beverly Salerno, executor of the Joe Salerno literary estate.

Sample Poems from: Dream Paintings from the Heaven of Osbscurity
Copyright © 1997 by Beverly Salerno. All rights reserved. ISBN 1-886841 Skylands Writers & Artists Assoc. Inc. P.O. Box 154, Blairstown, NJ 07825.
(Out-of-print.)

Only Here, poems by Joe Salerno, published by S.W.A.A. also out-of-print.

To Order: Song of the Tulip Tree (La Canzone Della Magnolia) The Bordighera Poetry Prize Winner, 1998. ISBN 1-884419-31-3: Send a post paid check for $14.95 to: Bordighera Press, P.O. Box 1374, Lafayette, IN. 47902-1374.

Solitary Traveler Crossing a Foot Bridge


He loves the fog and the feeling of floating on air.
Below, a thousand jen of sheer cliff;
Above, a thousand jen of straight peak.
Too bad the view is obscured by so many clouds;
Now when he gets to the other side
He will have to get drunk to enjoy the scenery.


Second Inscription

My good friend Old Man Drunk and Asleep did this
painting during a spring nap after drinking too much
wine. His vision must have been blurry which is why
the painting is so foggy. When I asked him who
the lonely traveler was, he said it was the spirit of
drunken poets and painters who have no place in
this floating world.


(Written in the Heaven of Obscurity Studio while drunk with my friend Old Man Drunk and Asleep. We both drank too much wine and fell into a stupor.In my dream, I watched him paint this wonderful dream painting.) --Chin-yeh Chi

Enjoying a Book of Poetry on a Spring Afternoon


After days of rain, the weather
has turned warm and sunny.
To purify my cottage, I burn a little incense,
Rolling up the bamboo to let in the light.
When I open a favorite book of Tang poetry,
the sun selects a poem by Wang Wei.
When I finish chanting it, I sip new wine,
yawn and enjoy the spring breezes,
picking wayward petals out of my beard.
Alone and happy, I'm reminded of myself
watching as a young bee still groggy from winter seclusion
Tries to find the opening into a peach blossom.

Ant on a Willow Leaf

The ant on the willow leaf
gleams like a bead of wet ink.
All day its pure heart shines like a light
through its body.
When the Buddha spoke the Four Noble Truths
about suffering,
The ant already understood the teaching.

Copyright © 1997-20001 by Beverly Salerno. All rights reserved.

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