Poetry from Steve Bloom


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(Last revised July 2016)



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

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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?)



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.”

Click here to read more, and for comments

“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.

Click here to read more, and for comments


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   send an email to: Steve@stevebloompoetry.net







Walking down a long-neglected block
in a long-neglected neighborhood
of the South Bronx I spy—sprouting
through the sidewalk's cracks in front
of a seemingly abandoned warehouse—
weeds, so long-neglected that they
have reached a height of one or two feet.

That's kind of tall for weeds sprouting
through the sidewalk's cracks,” I think
to myself, decide that I should stop
for a moment, contemplate their struggle.
Bending down to listen I expect
to hear complaints about how life
has treated them so unfairly, perhaps
an expression of jealousy for
their cousins who grow more easily,
not far away, in that tree-pit
strewn with random debris.
Yet the only sound which reaches
my ear is the gentlest chorus
of voices murmuring, repeatedly:

Thank you for this space to grow.
Thank you for this space to grow.
Thank you
        for this space to grow.

It may not be much,
but it belongs to us.

It may not be much.
        But it belongs
        to us."


"Steve at Work"
Photo by Pat Jordan

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