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Letters to Karl Marx by Arturo Desimone


Lettre a Karl Marx Uno
Marx I do not write to you
as Roque Dalton would,
calling you a poet
for your sexless Neoplatonic ballads
to Jenny von Westphalen
Roque at least was a poet
who wrote of your yearning
for the fat arms and mammaries of Jenny

(by the Rhineland milkfarms where the ghost
of the work-ethic first assailed you as you lazed reading
Shlegel by the river

where fuedal landlords crushed

peasant uprisings of the first revolutionary
protestants, betrayed by Luther
your lute did not avenge them either, they were peasants
not industrial workers.

You saw yourself in the river, beard not long enough,

you did not see the skull at bottom

in which the watersnake lived)

Roque knew some divine and splendid carnality
as Ruben Dario, who was born not far
from where Roque was executed
by his own troop comrades.
I wish he had mentioned the maid
in the wine-cellar paid by Friedrich Engel’s father
the mating act involves a kind of dialectic–
to me fertility is not purely material.



Lettre a Karl Marx Dos
Karl, you began your final work of aesthetics,
you promised in your letters “this will be the best ever”
to Engels you said “you ain’t seen nothing” but died
from drink, maid, cigars after paragraph one.
Brecht interpreted it for you, in his own special,
Germanic pragmatist way,
Never write on an empty stomach
Usually I wake up and write poems
in the morning while hungry,
alternative to losing seed
and vitality to fantasy lovers I saw on Polish vacations
therefore before I finish this poem,
or dare continue it, I am off to the baker
to buy lunch—
irrational tongueless Slav I am, I forget to buy bread, practical problems are Hydras
and I don’t solve the problem until
Marx tells me  I need to be rational, the slave revolt cannot have magic or fates

or any such fantasies scientifically

inventorized by Dvorak.



Lettres a Marx Tres:  Inquiry as to Feed-Back on Your Poetry




I ran back from lunch with these quests, am rereading again these

poems for Jenny you sent me for my opinion,

forgive me for Red pencil.


did you ever learn

‘Miel et Lac Sub Lingua Tua’


Dario’s first Latin line, age 3—

Not to be found in Cicero


Maybe ancient

Roman proletariat whispered these lines

in dark clay huts, not fearing flies would come

eat honeyed mouths of the hungering afflicted


Even plebs shunned their eyes, forbade their feet

from washing at the foot-fountains

They were captured slaves, in a dream my ancestors

from islands Sicily, Thrace

from the limitless forest Poland.


But “what-if” history is bourgeois Imagination

and I am a Man of my Times.



Letter to Karl  Fourth /Cuatro

Karl,  I wonder what you now see
from your winecellar that floats
across the ocean of afterworld,
do you look back on this world, trying
to throw pages of your promised never delivered Aesthetics
to the dark waves, hoping the wind
the fish that eat diatribes will bring back to us,
farewell Prometheus who wrote silly ballads to Jenny,
and who read Goethe to his daughters, and Ovid’s
Amores to his maid, in the winecellar paid by Engel’s father


discoverer of the importance of material,

you asked me when i will start the hell I too will

throw stars and shir-ha-shirim columns to the side

and grow up, become a human being,

I rather remain a symbolic animal,

it is more useful to revolution.


But we needed
we needed the lamp to animate with a soul the iron Spartacus-ship
you gave us foolish oarmen,
your Aesthetics might have surprised and prevented:
pragmatist Brecht who interrupts every few lines of dialogue
with some ode about economics, material, harvests, proletariat,
and his tired ode to sagging noise vagina of an aged prostitute
the aesthetics of grub before spirit, ruptures, loose air
might have prevented several cultural revolutions,
might have prevented today’s Post Cold War fantasy
more vampiric than all other capitalistic parasitisms
Art is a Democracy, Anus Domini
poets perform ”intellectual labor”,

German Geistelijck, relating to psyche and phantoms,
inferior to drudgery of workers and managers,

Craft (from DE, Kraft.)

thank you for this,
had you explained yourself, would Brodksy have been put on trial
for parasitism?—

He did not fetishize degrees or wage-labor
his only employer: mysterious pre-jesus god,

Sons of Jewish peasants hid their idols to gods like playboys

from burning stare of the letters in the column,

Semite alphabet of reproachful, if I keep you, let me be an ancient Slav

on the outside.
maybe the young Marx would have corrected Brodsky

at Tribunal,

maybe saying for him god just a lumpenproletarian’s false consciousness

ash metaphor of

Father Labor,


mating with Mother Nature,


in the great wine-cellar on which all earth is suspended

you might have told the courtroom

Story of Mona and Fabor mating

like Egyptian Nut and Geb, with the giant green prick and the stars

you might have defended him, as your brother parasite,

you never held a job either, but he beat you—Brodsky never even went to high school.

And neither did I.


Arturo Desimone  born and raised in Aruba ( Caribbean) to parents of immigrant origins (Argentinean father, Arubian-Hebraic mother) at the age of 20 he emigrated to the Netherlands. After 6 years he left the Netherlands to lead a nomadic way of life better enabling writing and making drawings–these travels were to such destinations as post-revolutionary Tunisia, wintery Romania and Poland, crisis-infected-Greece. Currently he is based Buenos Aires, his grandfather’s hometown and where he is working on a long fiction project while planning future nomadisms. His stories have been in Apeiron Review, in the New Delhi Literary Quarterly, The Brown Critique, and Unlikely Stories. His poetry has been in the bilingual Hinchas de Poesia, Jewrotica, Horror Sleaze Trash, forthcoming in Soul Lit: Journal for Spiritual and Poetry. Last march he became the topic of an article in Argentina’s Clarin newspaper. This column piece, by Laura Ramos, was aptly titled “El Turista Revolucionario,” his blog is


Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting)

Poets Basement is now on Facebook. Find us as

To submit to Poets Basement, send an e-mail to CounterPunch’s poetry editor, Marc Beaudin at with your name, the titles being submitted, and your website url or e-mail address (if you’d like this to appear with your work).  Also indicate whether or not your poems have been previously published and where.  For translations, include poem in original language and documentation of granted reprint/translation rights.  Attach up to 5 poems and a short bio, written in 3rd person, as a single Word Document (.doc or .rtf attachments only; no .docx – use “Save As” to change docx files to “.doc”).  Expect a response within two months (occasionally longer during periods of heavy submissions).

Poems accepted for online publication will be considered for possible inclusion of an upcoming print anthology.

For more details, tips and suggestions, visit Thanks!

Arturo Desimone is a writer, poet and visual artist currently based between Argentina and the Netherlands. He was born and raised on the island Aruba, a son of immigrants and exiles. A book of his poems, La Amada de Túnez, is forthcoming from the Argentinian poetry publisher Audisea Libros. His poems short fiction pieces and translations have appeared in literary journals such as The Adirondack Review, Blue Lyra Review, CounterPunch Poets Basement and Drunken Boat.

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