Antonio Gramsci

By | 1 November 2019

You posed the Southern Question
while waging war in the trenches
of bourgeoisie fantasy.
You drank languages & histories.

Mussolini drank your blood.
Unswayed by victory,
you refused to genuflect before teleology.
Breaking with Hegel–surpassing Croce–

you made prose into poetry.
Fragile wrists pouring over notebooks
in a staccato more rigid
than the bars of your cell.

You are the particles of shivering light,
on the crossbars of your smoky windowpanes.
Recipient of deposits made by history
without the benefit of an inventory.

The task, you said, is to make that inventory.
You are the politics your body rejected.
Optimism of the will,
pessimism of the intellect.

You are eyes-wide-open despair,
hope plus seeing, will plus being.
Vico’s son, made by history
the “we” born into poetry.

You are the name on the lips
of every freedom hungry soul.
Agitator of peasant visionaries,
mobilizer of dreams forged in factories,

democratizer of beauty, leading
the Communist Party
to question reality.
For the US Senator testifying

to the House Ways & Means Committee,
you are an agitator
for the destruction
of Western democracy.

The jottings your sister-in-law
removed from your prison cell quietly,
the unpublished masterpiece
that will merge with eternity.

Family torn from your arms,
your wife removed in Russia,
your son seen once in the airport
before he vanished from your horizon.

You directed his education
from your prison cell,
Gramsci, whose mother
considered her son

the state’s enemy number one
Anti-utopian of universal equality,
theorizer of the new society,
you are no martyr, Gramsci,

just an organizer
the revolution
rooted in reality.

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