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Thursday, July 16, 2020


by Joan Leotta

Do you recall the era—
Pax Americana—
after World War II when American passports
were king? We traveled everyone, alone, in groups.
some discerning some disdaining.
Our journeys were bathed
in the glow of Pax Americana,
peace to the world, good will toward us, a protection
bestowed on us not merely by troops sweeping in on
winds of war, but by good will
floating on the gentle breeze
of peace through Marshall Plan, Berlin Airlift.
I studied then, traveled, picked up
mail at American Express, secure
in the knowledge my country uber alles
had molded a peace so all could
move freely, safely, from place to place.
Our new era, not even dignified by Latin,
instead simply pas Amerique, non ai americani
No, no , no, no. Now we can’t go—anywhere.
We are barred from their sacred
places, our passports, worthless paper.
Can we console ourselves with
America the beautiful? Would that we could.
Instead, pandemic hotspots
boil over from sea to shining sea.
Our purple mountains offer no safe majesty.
Pax America no longer applies within
our borders or without.
Shootings, riots in the streets, virus
feverishly consuming young and old.
All of this, all of this in four short years.
Survival is still within our reach,
it takes only a small act of faith, kindness,
and reliance on the science
God has given us—wear a mask,
wash your hands, stay apart.
Even in Dante’s time, these things were
known, yet so many ignore them,
marching like lemmings into
Pax Americana,
how I mourn your passing.

Joan Leotta is a writer and performer. She writes about and performs tales of food, family, and strong women—and is often touched by  how moments in history affect the daily lives of ordinary people.