Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Michael Simms: The Garden and the Drone

We come to the garden because it is beautiful.

Arborvitae, hydrangea, anemone

Even the names are beautiful.


The men who call themselves our leaders

Seem far away. We feel free to be kind,

To walk from here down the street,


Greeting our neighbors, stopping to give

A dollar to a ragged man sitting on the sidewalk.

Beauty wants us to be kind.


Can we believe in kindness the way we believe in rain?

Can we practice kindness until it becomes a habit,

A custom, a ritual of small acts?


If we step over the homeless man

On the sidewalk, then we can easily ignore

The child in Syria blown apart by our taxes


And our drone hovering over the garden

Where the wedding party waits

For the bride. A missile is launched


And everyone dies.

But such cruelty seems far away.

Here in the garden where virtue is easy


We avoid the cold calculus of blame:

Arborvitae, hydrangea, anemone

Beneath the wide August sky.


Note: According to an article by Tom Engelhardt published by The Nation, U.S. airstrikes have wiped out a total of eight wedding parties in Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan since 2001.

This poem was commissioned by City of Asylum Pittsburgh to be read at the Alphabet City Garden on August 4, 2018.

Copyright 2018 Michael Simms.



11 comments on “Michael Simms: The Garden and the Drone

  1. Patricia A. Nugent
    August 5, 2018

    “The child in Syria blown apart by our taxes.” Poignant and horrifying. Unless we raise our voices, we are all complicit. Reminds me of a Gloria Steinem quote: “You cannot harden your heart selectively.” Thanks for including the notes at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Andrea Hollander
    August 5, 2018

    Very powerful poem, Mike. Wish you could read it before Congress.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      August 5, 2018

      Thanks, Andrea. Perhaps after the midterm elections, the next congress will be more enlightened. We can hope.


  3. Naomi Shihab Nye
    August 5, 2018

    Thank you, Michael! Great and necessary and heartbreaking poem. Really appreciate all you do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      August 5, 2018

      Thank you so much, Naomi. Your poetry has been a great inspiration to me.


  4. chaz70
    August 5, 2018

    Thank you for this poem, Michael. Charles

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  5. jfrobb
    August 5, 2018

    Earlier I clicked a LIke, but this poem seems to be staying with me. Prompting me to come back and say more. Like the other posting of the morning, it reminds me that how we choose to act each day matters. That compassion matters – both to others and to me. Because of our oneness. Yesterday I started reading ‘The Book of Joy’ (the Dalai Lama + Desmond Tutu). And now this morning, this poem and the Portrait. Not a coincidence. All of a piece.


  6. Philip Terman
    August 5, 2018

    Yes—in fact, you know I think that Michael has been my publisher at Autumn House Press, and published a few of our translations. He’s a good friend.

    This article appeared in our local paper yesterday:



    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Enter your email address to follow Vox Populi and receive new posts by email.

Join 10,429 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 3,500,041 hits


%d bloggers like this: