“I am American”

I rode a train in Africa
through lands where once
the Fascists came
and people frowned and turned away
when ‘ere they learned my family name.

“No, I am an American!”
a smile , a laugh
a warm embrace
“I thought you were Italian!”.

I grabbed a cab in Egypt
a land where once
the English ruled;
the driver frowned
when I spoke to him

“No, I am an American”
a smile, a laugh
a friendly face
“I thought you were the Brits again!”

In my youth I walked the streets
 Karachi and Lahore
Addis and Adana
Asmara and Mysore

where Americans were always welcome;
not so any more
since we’ve become the empire
forever waging war

In Tehran on nine eleven
we saw candles in the streets;
there was sympathy we squandered
deciding to abandon peace.

If we had spent my three score ten
feeding hungry women and men
what a nation we might have been

for if we practiced what we preach
I know we’d have no enemies;
I know it.
I just know it.





About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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4 Responses to “I am American”

  1. carolahand says:

    A powerful way to show some of what was lost by following the path of war…


  2. toritto says:

    Indeed Carol. In my lifetime we have gone from the most loved nation on earth to the nation most folks overseas believe is the greatest danger to world peace. Thanks and regards.


  3. weggieboy says:

    I visited friends in Paris during the time I was stationed in then-West Germany. One of the shops we visited was a Greek grocer’s, for retsina, cous-cous, and a few Greek treats.

    I don’t speak French, but I decided to try German (which I speak poorly) after my English failed as a language of communication between the grocer and me. From that time on, every time we visited his shop and, later, when I visited Paris again, I was my Parisian friends’ “German friend”.

    You know the history of Germans in Greece during WWII. This was 1971, a bit too soon, I thought, to be comfortably identified by an older Greek as German!


    • toritto says:

      Weggie- Indeed the Greeks had the highest level of casualties as percentage of the population of any country which suffered through the Nazi occupation. You didn’t want to be a German in Greece during the early ’70s. Regards and thanks for reading and commenting.


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