The Death of Gramsci

Photo credit: Nicholas Gemini ‘Graffiti nel quartiere Ostiense’, Wikimedia Commons

i

In your cell,
there isn’t much light, except
for the muted beams through a high, barred window.
Beyond them, smoky clouds billow and pass,
for a moment, you are reminded of Turin,
where you and a thousand others
were struggling
amongst the swamping smell of Diesel
attempting to grab the bourgeoisie by the throat.
It slowly slips away, the memory
whilst the image of the cell window
imprints on you.
The clouds, still, are ever moving,
and against the stolid stillness of the iron bars, creates an illusion where
the prison seems to slowly sail forward, on an Axis.
A prison, bounding forth, expanding its borders,
like Caesar in Gaul.
The image will never leave you.

ii

It was the straightening pain of your childhood,
the agony of the braces
mixed with poverty’s many hidden humiliations,
that attempted to deform you.
Yet still you remained yourself.
But after all this,
it is simple walls that will kill you.
These walls,
and what they keep you from.
Because separation is a particular kind of poison,
working through heartbreak,
where you must live without your lovers touch,
without Tania’s laughter,
without the memory of your Children’s faces.
And in their place,
the stinging awareness
of your absence at the dinner table.
Without these things,
amongst the cold and damp,
the days stretch themselves with a painful banality
because even one moment spent in Prison,
is Time
on a torture rack.
Despite this,
you’re still writing
and the letters you send and receive
are an antidote to deprivation.
Still you deteriorate.
The cold,
and damp
and lack of care
wear away at you.
As your teeth fall out,
and the signature of your spine becomes diseased,
as the pounding misery of your head can only be cured through
a greater pain
you realise:
You have to write,
because another world is possible
even at the zero point of their control.
Still you resisted.

iii

You were reminded in prison,
that ‘without’ is a slow killer,
that a disabled life is a War of Position,
against the bulwark of state machinery.
You’re reminded
that your great performance of endurance
is just a rehearsal
for social murder,
the small, subtle removal of the subalterns,
the many who will live like you.
It is the preparation for Fascism’s stadium performance,
which already plays its blaring tune.
They are winning,
but you put your faith,
in a counter culture,
where resistance is the average,
the street theatre of the everyday,
which became your obsession.
You look back to your cell window:
the wind has changed,
and now the clouds come towards you,
bringing with them the threat
of a day
where the insurgent forces of history, the people
will break down the walls,
and with them will come victory,
the only victory worth having:
to live
without chains.

iv(epilogue)

Gramsci dies again in every prison cell,
he dies again, declared fit to work
he dies in every struggle ignored,
wherever exploitation lurks
He lives in the revolt of the dispossessed,
and in the reading of each book.
He lives in solidarity,
and in every caring look.
He lives in every factory,
where workers dare to strike
He lives in each deathblow made
against the inheritors of the Reich.
He dies in every life disdained,
ones lived like trench warfare.
But in the world turned upside down,
You’ll find him waiting there.

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Communist, Theatre Artist, Poet.

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davel

davel

Communist, Theatre Artist, Poet.

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