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Steve Bloom – two poems

23 April 2006

In March we carried an interview with the US anti-war activist Steve Bloom following a successful talk at a Socialist Forum meeting in Belfast.  Below we carry two poems he has sent us recording his impressions of the city.

Interview With US Socialist Steve Bloom

Belfast, I


Walking along Falls Road—a street

known until now only from a song

by Nancy Griffith—my feet

reach five-four-six, wander

into the cemetary: "Established

1869," the sign tells me.

I find "1870" engraved on one headstone.

decide that others, too overgrown

or weathered to read, could well be

the requisite number of months older.

And as I meander at random—

wondering why, in the last century

plus 36 years, so few have found words

more original than "In loving memory of"

or, occasionally, "Pray for the soul of"—

a marker with this latter request

catches my eye:

"Pray for the soul of my dear son,

Desmond Healy, shot

by her majesty's forces

9th of August 1971."

And I remember, suddenly, why

there are so many songs

in loving memory of, all the reasons

I have come to visit this city.


Later I return, with a map to guide me,

find the formal plots: one, flag flying,

for "those who gave their lives";

the other with its "Role of Honor"

begining in 1789. You too might be stirred

by the dedication here to prisoners

"who died in the hunger strike,

H-block, Long Kesh, March to October

1981." Even this ignorant American

knows the first on the list: Bobby Sands.

(I stand for a brief silent tribute.



My eyes examine each name carved

into the white marble.

But as I turn  to depart, those unknown

before have already slipped away.

And I think again of the one

I expect to recall in years to come 

thanks to a mother, named Healy,

because she used to have a son.

February, 2006

Belfast, II

I walk about downtown,

but this is a foreign country,

and perhaps that is why

I do not understand.

Can someone teach me

how to tell, just by looking,

which of the people  I pass

is Catholic,

which Protestant?

February, 2006



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