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Sunday, November 19, 2023


by Maria Lisella

Buon giorno, buen dia Maria

Full of grace and wisdom and power

The Lord may be with thee, and you

May be Blessed among women but


What about the children? Not the one

In the womb that has been consecrated

As the son of God, but God, your god,

My god has many sons, daughters all


Around the world. They are not all blessed

Some are cursed and lost and under a pile

Of rubble in Ukraine, Yemen, Israel, Palestine, Gaza;

Others live in the darkness of the blind, are


Plagued by hallucinations, cursed with spasms

Of a mind that plays tricks on them all day, all

Night. Imagine a predator behind you, in your

Shadow, silent, stealthy, looking over your shoulder


Or under your bed. You cannot see but you know

They are there and they mean you harm for no

Other reason than you are where you find yourself

Not for an act you perpetrated on someone else,


Just for being who you are. The luck of the draw?

And Holy Mary, Mother of God, do you pray for

The innocent as well as the sinners? The pilots,

The soldiers firing artillery rockets, are they too


Prayed for? Rockets with ranges of 30-50 miles, fired

In barrages for the most effect, the most damage.

Are they too in your prayers to god and which god

Might that be? What does that God look like, what


Does that god think, plan, why does that god never

intervene? Humans shooting hate and rockets blindly

into Ashkelon, Beersheba, under the eyes of Israeli 

drones … range is crucial for rockets, for prayers too.


Pray for us sinners and for the innocent, for my own son

Living in a world plagued with demons he cannot see

or touch or hear but knows they are there, so music

and words come to him as if a shaft of light in day


Or night, raises his voice above the din in his brain, to

Feel the lift above the iron dome of paranoia, the upsurge

Of spirits that haunt, and fly, and invade his small cot in an

Institution with cinder block walls, netted windows he can’t


See but knows they are there: the limitations, the lack

Of liberty, the outside in; the other sons and daughters

in Gaza, or Yemen or Ukraine are bombarded with a panoply

of air power used in a steadily escalating series of attacks.


What I wish for my own son is comfort, warmth, knowing

There is a meal, a roof over his head, a dog at his feet, a

Sun he can feel but not see… Mother of God, what do you

Wish for your sons, your daughters now and at the hour


Of their deaths? When will your god hear your pleas or

Have the mothers and daughters been silenced to the

Tunnels, the basements, the streets, have they lost their

Voices, their powers to heal, now and at the hour of now?

Maria Lisella is the sixth Queens Poet Laureate and an American Academy Fellow; her work includes Thieves in the Family (NYQ Books), Amore on Hope Street (Finishing Line Press) and Two Naked Feet (Poets Wear Prada). She is a member of the Thursday Morning Poets, Brevitas and co-curates the Italian American Writers Assoc. literary readings.