A Conspiracy of Flowers

Still-Life-Flowers-pastel-on-paper-art-by-Oscar-Lopez-Rivera, A Conspiracy of Flowers, Culture Currents
“Still Life: Flowers” (pastel on paper) – Art: Oscar Lopez Rivera

by Steve Bloom to former Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera

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. 

A Conspiracy of Flowersby Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom is a New York City-based poet, composer and activist. You can find out more and get in touch through his website: www.stevebloompoetry.net.