Bernard Block


Bernard Block  USA






The stream


The stream    the current flows   the wind ripples


The soil   la tierra   weeps   small keys


I write   yo escribo   in black stones   black keys


Enter the days


Enter the light


Enter the wind


The stream flows   remember the dream   el sueño


Remember the stones   remember the stream    remember the wind


Only in extravagant light   do I know


The stone   the earth   the wind


The stream flows


The soil weeps   llorar


I write


In black stones


In black keys




In feral order    slow to the slaughter


In feral order    slow to the slaughter

Children of stones

Stones that don’t matter

Slump into boxcars

Limp onto barges

Barges that drift    the slow promenade


Children of stones    in no special order

Thrown to the gravel    softer than bone

Bone for the boxcar

Bone for the chimney

Smoke for the barges

The slow promenade


Twenty-four blackbirds    slow to the slaughter

Swirl round the barges

Drifting the shore    black of the river

Smoke of the boxcar

Shriek of the heron

The slow promenade


Pilots of heaven

The drones are ignited

Children of stones    slump to the floor

In feral order    slow to the slaughter

Smoke from the barges

The slow promenade




Get up and bar the door


We are the Flood    the Plague    the Wall

The Atrocities    Los Migrantes    the Stones

Who don’t matter    the glass in your eye

We are Christ in Chiapas    waiting for La Bestia    the Beast

The last train that leaves for Nowhere

The mudflats that breathe the black throat of River

The marshes    oozing blood    the leg of a feral hog

Los Puercos    the pigs    hungry for your slop


Get up and bar the door    we are the Atrocities

Our Ladies are the cuerpomátics    the credit cards made of flesh

They give themselves for nothing    Nada

Madonna of the rag    wipe your hands on her

Smear her on your face    que bonita bandera

You can eat her for dinner    feral bone on El Camino Real

Look for us under your Wall    in your Tunnels

In your marshes    in the black throat of River


Get up and bar the door



Wind and rain


The Awadallah brothers were delirious

In the waves off the shore of Valletta, Malta.

They were the sconosciutos, the unknowns

After the boat capsized in the black water

Of Malta.  And where were the three hundred?

Now they were two.  Hold on to a plank.


They remembered crawling through tunnels,

Sprinting across deserts.  Where are the three hundred?

Maybe it was always two.  Always two.

Mamoun and Samir Awadallah.  Back on the patio

Watching their mother hang the red chilis to dry.

Where was the sea?  Where was the sky?  Hold on to a plank.


Were they delivered to a tunnel near the town of Khan Younis?

Did they descend a ladder and crawl on their elbows

For hours?  Did a hatch open and a voice yell  Run!  Run!  Run!…

Then the shack.  Trunk of a car.  The big city—

Was it Alexandria?  Then sprint across the strand.

Wade chest deep in water.  Then the large  boat.  Hold on to the plank.


Then the three hundred.  Where are the three hundred?

Maybe it was always two.  Always two.  Hold on to the plank.

They are the sconosciutos, the unknowns

In the waves off the shore of Valletta, Malta

On the last morning, south of Sicily

They are the wind and rain over the black waters.




In the year of 13 moons

(after an article by Alma Guillermoprieto)


Something terrible has happened    something big

We are bound for the State of Guerrero

Southwest of Mexico City…


Three months ago, on September 26

In the year of our Lord, 2014

43 students were abducted in the town of Iguala

Disappeared into stones    the sky

The 43  (their photos are everywhere)

They are now desaparecidos

The mothers and fathers

Stoic hard workers    campesinos

Searching for their children    gone from the earth

Desaparecidos    into stones     the sky


We think this is the road

This is the road they were driven on

This wind-whipped slope where the road ends

Where the trucks stopped

Where the boys    frog-marched further

Through bramble and mesquite

sobbing?      silent?      praying?

To an unknown spot in the dark

This is where the road ends


This was in the year of 13 moons

Past the canyon of 8 echoes

In the tundra of  7 scorpions

That plant their fangs in the dry earth of bramble

Dry earth of mesquite    beyond the steaming gulch

In the time of plague    of locust cross the skies

Buzzards circling in a hush

Gazing down    searching for children

Desaparecidos    in the State of Guerrero

In the town of Iguala

The 43

In the year of 13 moons




hi    ro    shi    ma


hiro   shim   a        hi    ro    shi    ma        90,000     166,000

see     hiro    shi    ma

little boy    august 6    in the year of our Lord    1945

floating      charcoal      over river ota

O river of eyebrows singed

flower patterns of kimonos      burned into skin

jaws agape      teeth locked      when Night begins

when Night descends      when moon ends      when stars end

enola gay      little boy      toy bomb

game of      floating trolley cars    singed corpses    staring out


see Lord of flies      leading 10,000 flies      out of eyes

Kumamoto demons      in veins      lungs      curve of spleen

taste hibachi of spleen      sushi of flesh      haiku of crimson sea

lotus blossom girl      frozen      in sea of fire      sea of ice

mother hanging lace curtains      in Empire of Sighs

why is spider leg        thrumming winter bareness

why is string of autumn        thrumming neck of beetle

why is lake biwa        floating over Osaka

why is shakuhachi      end-blown flute      howling      when Night descends

why is biwa        fretted lute        melded to lip of Night


O river ota      moth requiem      valley of despond

mimosa and harushika      frozen      in sea of fire

O Lords of Secrecy        tattoo of needles        needles of rain

Empire of Sighs        haiku of dentures        melded to coral

lotus blossom girl        melded to coral        melded to mother

hanging lace curtains        fluttering      winds of ice      winds of fire

river ota        singed corpses        staring out

where is the saviour        bent at the petal

where is the Madonna        floating on a cloud

where is flood      where is ice    where is fire      hi      ro      shi      ma




Clear the Great Plains    La Hora de Sangre

(after an article by Ned Blackhawk)


Sand Creek Massacre

November 26    in the year of our Lord    1864

200 women    slaughtered

Cheyenne and Arapaho    children    older men

Black Kettle    the band’s leader

O Black Kettle    Atrocity in C minor


Patrick Edward Conner’s massacre

of Shoshone villagers    along the Idaho-Utah border

at Bear River    in the year of our Lord    1863

Nada    Nothing    of  Navaho    1864

the Long Walk    Promenade in F minor

children who don’t matter    slump to the floor


Clear the  Great Plains    La Hora de Sangre    Blood-hour

Disembowel    pregnant women    Genitalia

on parade    this is where it happened

this is where it is    Sand Creek    Bear River

the Long Walk    Promenade in F minor

Adagio of limbs    Sarabande of slit throat


School for cadavers    shearing of sheep

buffalo    Navaho    bagatelles for a massacre

Shoshone    Cheyenne    Arapaho    Navaho

Death on the Installment Plan

Canticle for a Crucifixion

Atrocity in C minor




Of unquiet birth    off the Malaysian coast

(for the Rohingya Boat People stranded in Andaman Sea

since Spring, 2015)


Malay Archipelago   Sumatra   Java   Borneo

Thailand   Myanmar   Kuala Lumpur


O World    plug your ears    turn your eyes


of unquiet birth    off the Malay coast

somewhere    a silence

somewhere    a dream

a scream    lagoon of swollen eyes

perhaps    from slit ocean

blank eyes    gritted teeth    melded to coral

arms embracing    torched body    swollen

as night descends    night ends


smothered cry    divine    fractured

one    and another    and another…

swallow fish    instant fire


comedo    glutton    blackhead    comedia of limbs

swollen fish    of sweet embrace    of perfume

as night descends    night ends


passion    accepted    involuntary

bloated palms    bloated flesh    nailed

benediction of meat   sacrilegious wine   dipped in blood

somewhere    the river is boiling

somewhere    the river is bleeding

somewhere    the sea is praying

doves    calcified    dip above the foam

smooth    jaws locked    unquiet calm

lost cries    ancient rivers


swollen planks drifting    broken veils    and…

above the foam    folded lies

deep    in blank eyes    eyes of coral    staring

bloated tongues    murmuring    your name




On the death of Cecil, a lion


On the death of a lion

Cecil was his name

Black was his mane

Cecil was his name


Lured from his forest on the distant Zimbabwe plain

By colleagues of Dr. Walter Palmer

Dentist from Minnesota

Who wanted Cecil’s head displayed

in his Dental Waiting Room


Cecil wore a collar

So Man would know he was special

But the collar did not help

As Dr. Palmer did not notice

even when Cecil yelped


Dr. Palmer is now hiding

in the Black Forest of Minnesota

In the dark of Minnesota plain

Searching for vegetation and a stream of water

black, black was his name


Some say the rain that drizzled

On Dr. Palmer’s mane were the tears

Of Cecil’s colleagues roaming the distant sky

Some say this was true

some say this was a lie


Some patients in the Dental Waiting Room swore

To a nimbus cloud they saw

That a tear, a single tear

Appeared in the eye of Cecil

hanging on the wall



Cecil was his name

Black was his mane

A lion who once roamed the forest

on the distant Zimbabwe plain




From another place


It was Alyan Kurdi, three years of age

His round cheek pressed to the sand

As if he were sleeping

Except for the wave lapping his face


His brother, Ghalib and his mother, Rehan

Had already sunk beneath the wave

Passed into another place

His father, Abdullah had shouted

Just keep his head above the water

But there was no one    and Alyan passed into another place


The man behind the veil    the veil of blackened face

Had promised Abdullah a yacht    for 4,000 Euros

But provided a 15 foot rubber raft

For a trip from a Turkish beach

To the Greek island of Kos

And plastic flotation Teddy Bears for his two children


Alyan had grasped his Teddy Bear

As long as he could    in the season of relentless Meltemi Winds

Waves 15 feet high    but he could no longer hold on

And passed into another place

Now a lifeless child

In red shirt and black shorts    face down on a Turkish beach


His father, Abdullah, said

Even if you give me

all the countries in the world

I don’t want them

What was precious is gone


Rehan, Ghalib and Alyan

are in another place




Every afternoon      a child dies…

(inspired by Frederico García Lorca, Poet and George Crumb, Composer)


Every afternoon a child dies in Damascus

Every afternoon a child dies in Baghdad

Every afternoon a child dies in Gaza

Every afternoon a child dies on the beaches of Lesbos and Kos


The child searches for his voice

Lost in the Night of Electric Insects

Lost in the Night of Flutes and Bones

Lost in the Night of Lost Bells


Ask the whale who sings no longer

Ask the dove who drops to the strand

Ask the bee drifting back

Ask the butterfly floating black


This is La Sarabanda de la Muerte Oscura

This is the Sarabande of Obscure Death

This is the Season of Mock Suns

This is the Benediction of Blood Moons


See the tango of the spider and the snake

In el barrio    barrios bajos    back streets

Ghost Dance      Ghost Breath


The spider weaves a Tapestry of Death

The snake twines its coils round

The horse that makes a coiled sound


See a random fish

See the tongue go dark

See the animal with no limbs


See the children go to the sea

They lose themselves many times for the sea

They ask—Where does it come from—Love, my father


The children ask for your eyes of bristle

See the children dying on the beaches of Lesbos and Kos

The beaches of Obscure Death      Muerte Oscura


Every afternoon      a child dies…




In the year of 43 moons

(for the 43 sons who disappeared

in the State of Guerrero, Mexico)


For Ezequiel Mora it is still

The year of 43 moons

Each moon still for the 43 sons

Who disappeared      desaparecidos

Gone from the earth      into stones      the sky


In the State of Guerrero

In the town of Iguala      the 43

Still as a frieze      still as a fable

Ezequiel Mora      his face weathered

His face      the color of grief


I don’t know what to think   he said

When told that the “experts” identified

The  DNA  match with a charred bone

Of his son      Alexander      in a patch of mesquite

Beyond the steaming gulch


I asked them to believe my need

To believe he might still be alive      my son

Alexander      still in the year of 43 moons

Ezequiel thought      there are no extra hands

To repair my old taxi


Alexander’s grandmother      abuela      fragile

Still does not know he is gone

Ezequiel does not drive his taxi

On the dirt roads of the sierra

He has halted work on his corn crop


I don’t know what to think

As he returned to his two-room cinder-block home

Where an altar to Alexander covers one wall

Last night I dreamed of a bone      a singing bone

In a patch of mesquite      he said      beyond the steaming gulch


This is still the year of 43 moons




Good Neighbor Policy


Wrap the Mexicanos    in malarial blankets

Make ‘em hotfoot    hobble sizzling sands

O Long Walk    sweet Nava-ho memories

Nostalgia     on Las Vegas Bands


Slice off Mexi-digits    toes

Stuff ‘em in boxcars    oozing slow

See Mexi-Kids    kids who don’t matter

Slump in Epileptic throes


Build a Wall    No    two or three

Wall of Cheerios     Tower of Oats

Make the Mexi-Masses    pay for it

With marshy skin around their throats


Break piñatas on their skulls

Santa’s gift for having none

Break their skulls on shards of fire

Make ‘em bend    to us    The One




Baba Yaga is smiling


Baba    Take flight from Hut on Fowl’s Legs

Rise on bowl of mortar    sky of black

You are hungry    yes    hungry

Scanning for bones    human bones

Pound into dust    with pestle on mortar

Feast on human dust    Baba Yaga    lick your lips


Baba sees bones    everywhere

Licks her white lips    eyes    glinting emeralds

Bones on beaches of Kos    Lesbos

Floating on Adriatic    outskirts of Vienna

Sands of Anza Borrego    Tundra of Seven Scorpions    Salton Sea

Helter-skelter    ankle from tree    mixed with hair    everywhere


Baba    Pound bones to dust

In your Hut on Fowl’s Legs    lick your white lips

Extract hair with tweezers    O Gourmet of Bone

Eyes of stone    Baba    jubilant    translucent bones

Glowing on Andaman Sea    coral floating past Myanmar

Bay of Bengal    Baba’s eye    eye of stone    eye of bone


Baba Yaga is smiling




O Bird of Paradise


Ave del Paraíso

Rise     up    up    above

The canyon of 8 echoes

Tundra of 7 scorpions

Scorpion luminoso

Coyotes circling the ravine


Remember the stream

Remember the wind

Current of wind    corriente del viento

The pale moon    descolorido    muerto

Pulling the tide    over the desolate strand


Fly    fly    beyond las bodas de sangre

Blood weddings

The circling gulls

The rising of the condor

Bird of prey    ave de rapiña

Con ojos negros    eyes black


High    high    to extravagant light


O Ave del  Paraíso

Beyond    los laberintos del tiempo

Labyrinths of time

You are air

Clear as crystal

Circle of light










Bernard Block’s Bio:


Born and raised in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, Bernard Block attended Cornell University and Brooklyn College, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and American Literature.  He hitch-hiked to California in 1965 and lived in the Haight-Ashbury through 1967 where he gave poetry readings at the I and Thou Coffee Shop, City Lights Bookstore and anti-Vietnam war demonstrations.  He returned to NYC and studied with the poet Colette Inez in the mid ’70s.  For 23 years, he was a caseworker for the NYC Bureau of Child Welfare.  Bernard performed his poetry at Emilie Glen’s “77 Barrow Street Poets” and the Speakeasy on Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village.  Recently he has featured at all the major spoken-word venues in NYC, Brooklyn and Long Island.  He has also featured at the Moonstone Poetry Series in Philadelphia and Al Black’s Poetry Series in Columbia, South Carolina.  In August, 2014 he was invited to feature in Laugharne, South Wales in celebration of the centenary of Dylan Thomas’ birth.  Bernard curates and hosts the Series “From Whitman to Ginsberg:  Poems that Challenge Conventional Wisdom” at Cornelia Street Café.  At this Series, poets share their own writing inspired by Blake, Dickinson, Yeats and Auden.  There have been 13 editions of this Series; the most recent was presented on February 19, 2016.  All 13 editions were videotaped and can be accessed on his YouTube Channel.



Bernard Block features his poetry at 11th Edition of

“From Whitman to Ginsberg” Poetry Series:




Bernard Block features his poetry at 12th Edition of

“From Whitman to Ginsberg” Poetry Series:




Articles similaires