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Damnatio Memoriae

by Joan Mazza

Condemned after death, a person
once elite is expunged, intended
to be forgotten. Statues are knocked
off their pedestals, beheaded,
hacked to pieces. Inscriptions

obliterated, erased, or changed
to the name of the current emperor.
Coins cut or hammered to remove
a name. Romans displayed
their outrage and disapproval

of the acts of forbears, declaring
them non-existent, though
they were already dead.
How like some families who forbid
the names of their children

or siblings to be voiced, who decree
they won’t speak to you if you mention
their dead father or mother.
Inheritance from the Romans
for becoming a persona non grata.


Joan Mazza worked as a medical microbiologist and psychotherapist and taught workshops on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self. Her poetry has appeared in The Comstock Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Italian Americana, Poet Lore, Slant, The Nation and elsewhere. She lives in rural central Virginia and writes every day.

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