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.
Walking along Falls Roada street
known until now only from a song
by Nancy Griffithmy 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.
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