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By Maria Lisella

Like a bandita ... 

By Maria Lisella

I wrap nose, mouth, peer above my makeshift pandemic burka. 

My laugh gives me away to mom & pop shopkeepers I visit 

while I shun supermarket lines, flee if I see

more than one customer. 

No glances at any bargains,

Like a squirrel storing its nuts for winter, I scurry among 

squash, potatoes, cabbage, long-lasting vegetables, 

the swift rush, a need for abundance 

in this new world of sick, healthy and suspect.

Hastily race to the safety of home; 

  the ferocious flight from invisible droplets that hover and stray 

on a sleeve, a grocery bag, the heel of a shoe; 

dive for the finish of another day without

incident or symptom.

They jump aside as if startled ...

By Maria Lisella

They jump aside as if startled...


but no, the two men dressed in blue denim jumpsuits like

the ones you see in 1940s French films, leap aside

to make room for the new social distance edict,

and I’m grateful.


First a meter or 39 inches, it has grown to six feet

in a city once so comfortable

with an 18-inch nose to nose distance

among eight million subway riders.


Homes become a prison, sanctuary, or retreat.

We seek solace from: phones,

midnight texts, emails,

live streams usher guests

into our living rooms.

Maria Lisella is the sixth Queens Poet Laureate and she was recently named an Academy of American Poets Fellow Twice nominated for a Pushcart Poetry Prize, her collections include Thieves in the Family (NYQ Books), Amore on Hope Street, and Two Naked Feet.

She curates the Italian American Writers Association readings, and is a travel writer by profession; her work appears in travel trade magazines as well as USA TODAY, Jerusalem Post and the online bilingual publication, La Voce di New York.

Maria Lisella
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