my ghosts

saccovanzetti

my ghosts

 

Vito Marcantonio, I saw you

giving the finger to Congress 

as the sons and daughters 

of immigrants debated whether a wall

should be built to keep out the huddled 

masses yearning to make a decent living 

 

Virgilia d’Andrea, I passed you 

on Market Street arguing with that man

holding the blown-up color photo 

of an aborted fetus

you were trying to explain that “pro-life”

meant “abbasso il militarismo

 

Carlo Tresca, I noticed you on

Haight street again last night

handing out literature to the

skater boys and the fake dreadlock girls

you were telling them about the rising proletariat 

but their headphones were too loud

 

Maria Barbieri, you came back

to an America where there were no more 

Italian women working in sweatshops but 

a trip to China made you weep

for the millions on endless assembly lines

assembling things non vale niente

 

Ferndinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti

I glimpsed you carrying hot meals

in brown paper bags to AIDS patients

living in a hospice in the Castro

from the way you two were arguing

I thought you were an old couple

 

Angela Bambace, Albina Delfino, Tina Catania

Antonetta Lazzaro, Tina Gaeta, Margaret diMaggio

Lucia Romualdi, tutte donne sovversive 

you are in every street in which I march

every rally I attend

you are not silent ghosts

 

 

originally published in Avanti Popolo: Italian writers sail beyond Columbus, AK Press, 2008

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