Poem Of The Month: June 2010

"Solidarity" by James Simmons  (1933 - 2001)
Taken from his Collection "Sex, Rectitude and Loneliness."

Video Courtesy of Ben Simmons


Every decade couples set forth
to change things, sure of what they’re worth,
the married, Catholic and Protestant,
marching together against want
and exploitation. Dry old truth
oiled and revived by passionate youth,
rejecting bigotry and lies
with tender hands on tender thighs.

‘Pastors and Master, we assert
our right to make love and get hurt
under rough banners of the heart.
Now let the healing fountains start:
freedom of speech, an even share
of profits. Loving couples dare
to be cut off, to be roughed up,
swilling the sweet or bitter cup
of life - whatever happens here,
not daunted, not put down by fear.
There’s more to life than easing through.
We will be doing this for you.’

Some politician or some priest
intruded on the marriage feast,
or they lost heart or lost direction,
or acute marital disaffection
cost them their future, sold them a pup,
or war broke out and they joined up,
or a new disease or a new fashion.
They needed luck and education.
They needed sex, they needed soul,
another leader, a better goal,
more unions, a revived left wing.
They needed, and lost, everything.

Violence is part of us so far.
We imagine a world without war.

The dead men were the rough
instruments of order in a city
misnamed, divided and misled.

The power of good’s not negligible.
It can work strongly. Ask the devil.

Copyright © James Simmons 1993
Copyright © The Estate of James Simmons 2007
Copyright © Dennis Greig 2007
All rights reserved
The author has asserted her/his right under Section 77
of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988
to be identified as the author of this work.