Poetry from Steve Bloom



 

         
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(Last revised December 2016)
     

 

                                    

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"He writes with an exacting eye and a generous heart"
—Pam McAllister, feminist author

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Faithful
 
“Fidel” was
        to “fidelidad”
as “faith” has always been
        to “faithful.”
 
And so I do not mourn today,
choose to keep the faith instead—
       
as he kept faith
with the Cuban people
        and with their revolution,
 
with the peoples of Harlem
of Vietnam
        of Angola
                of Nicaragua
with all the oppressed
of all the world
and with each
        of our revolutions.
 
Don’t mourn!
 
Keep the faith!
 
As Fidel kept faith
with a future when history
will finally absolve us—
if only we can manage
to keep the faith
       long enough.
 
Keep the faith!
As he kept faith
to the very end
with those “great feelings
        of love”:
 
a faith, thus,
in his own humanity,
        and in mine.
 
And in yours, too.
 
Don’t mourn!
 
Keep the faith!
 
Fidel Castro—Presente!
 
Don’t mourn!
 
Fidel Castro—Presente!
Keep the faith!
 
Don’t mourn!
 
Don’t mourn!
Just organize and . . .
 
        . . . keep
                the faith!
     

      

 

Guest Essay:

Remembering Geraldine Lucas

by Terri Harper

 

State Correctional Institute at Muncy PA, June 2015: I went from a citizen and human being to prison in 1991. So . . . I asked myself: “At what stage of my existence am I no longer a liability? How can I be of value, at least as much value as the inmate next to me?”

 

Today I think of those questions again, because I have had the absolute blessing to have spent the last two years engrossed in caring for Gealdine Theresa Lucas: my little “Ornery Bird” as I so lovingly called her.

 

Right now she is in the care of strangers, soon to be in the care of Almighty God. No words can describe the void I feel from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. I’m restless, heartbroken, angry—and full of  questions that begin with the word “why.”


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Essay:
   
       
“Ears and Hearts” Revisited
or: The Under-Appreciation of Greatness
    
by Steve Bloom
     
April, 2015—My poem, “Ears and Hearts,” (written in 2008, see below) raises the question: Why is great art so often under-appreciated in its own time? I am not the first  to ask this question, of course. But up to now I have not heard anyone offer a reasonably satisfactory explanation. Obviously this is not a universal phenomenon. Shakespeare’s plays were well-loved in Elizabethan England. Mozart was an acknowledged genius while he was alive—even if the people of Vienna had some difficulty judging the quality of his music compared to that of Antonio Salieri. Still, we are dealing with a common enough phenomenon.

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"Still Life: Flowers"
Pastel on Paper
Oscar Lopez Rivera

    

A Conspiracy of Flowers

You did not have to send the flowers, Oscar.
You have given us so much time, after all—
enough to assure me of your love:
twenty-six years on that day the artwork
was hung from a gallery's walls;
thirty-five by now, and counting still.
     
You did not have to send me flowers, Oscar.
I am sure it isn't easy to find them there,
where they keep you locked away, though
perhaps not quite so difficult for one
who truly understands the flowers
when they speak to us.
     
Che once spoke of love,
in words that have echoed ever since
in so many hearts.
Your great feelings echo too,
through these portraits:
of Mita at her sewing machine,
of Filiberto, Safiyah, Frida, Julia,
of Che himself joined by another
(although nameless) “gringo's nemesis”;
of corn vendors in their market square,
of a deer drinking from its river,
of a bowl filled with mangoes, or . . .
. . . a vase with flowers.
     
You did not have to send the flowers, Oscar. I
would still have known how much you love me:
enough to dedicate a lifetime
to our great conspiracy of flowers. 
     
And so I offer you these lines;
my small effort
to reciprocate your love.
     
Someday, I predict, a new law will transform
“colonialist conspiracy” into a crime
punishable, henceforth, by thirty-five
years in prison. And all who
are thus sentenced will be compelled
to appeal to you, or to me (or perhaps
to our children), for clemency.
     
Allow me to express the hope that we
will treat them with compassion
when the time arrives,
for such compassion best demonstrates
all the truths we hold self-evident
in our vast conspiracy of flowers.
     
Long live the conspiracy of flowers,
our wonderful conspiracy: of artists,
of poets, of musicians,
of sisters and mothers and daughters,
of sons and brothers, of fathers,
of lovers and comrades who have fallen
and those who march on, even
those yet-to-be-born because
soon, perhaps only a day or three
after you and I have joined the ancestors,
they will be the ones who discover
new ways to celebrate,
     
aware: that all the prison walls
in all the world are not enough
to hold back our glorious conspiracy.

     
You did not have to send the flowers, Oscar.
There was no need to send me flowers.

     

[Oscar Lopez Rivera, Puerto Rican independence fighter, has spent 35 years as a political  prisoner after being convicted on a charge of "seditious conspiracy."] 
     
                    


Steve reading at
"35 Poets for Oscar Lopez Rivera"
May 28, 2016
     
     


"35 Poets for Oscar Lopez Rivera"

May 28, 2016

(Can you find Steve in this photo?)

     

     

 


"Steve at Work"
Photo by Pat Jordan

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