Bernard Block







Invitation to a Poem


Please bring tablet of gold

Fragile moon, sky unsold

Scroll of mirrors, reflecting sigh

The constant nymph, untold eye

Green room enfolding wall

A mogul, a martyr, the oracle


Don’t forget Romeo and Juliet

Texting, twittering, a room to let

And say hello guys to jiggly poem

The insomniac married to a SmartPhone

Bring a silver vessel, pestle and tower

Of babbling, boobling, the dangling hour


And hail to pilgrim, lullaby of leaves

Acid tundra, petrified trees

Once food, now garbage, swirling of fleas

The mutant, the Baron down on his knees

The molecule, atomic sneeze

Bring your skin, if you please


Bring BlackBerry, Apple and a ‘friend’

A menu, password, ‘face’ with no end

A cookie, an icon, mouse on a bend

A sailor, chat-room, virtual yen

A latke, hummus, unleavened yeast

A window, one tear, wind from the east


Castle of WonderWheel, unsealed and unpinned

East of Ode to the West Wind




The Trumpet-Man’s Quest for Cornelia Street Café


In your Quest

For the Grail of Cornelia

You turned North

Instead of South

When you went out the door

You hit West Fourth

Then turned East

Could not turn back

As you tooted in a Thrall

Past Washington Square


Of Dragons

In the Fell

Of the Fall

After all

You heard Dizzy

You heard Chet

You heard Miles

In a Thrall

You swept the wind

You heard a Wail

From the East

You heard the Call

Past Tompkins Square

Of the Wail

Of the Grail

In the Fell of the Fall

You heard Miles

Ebony Smiles

In the Fell of the Fall

Past the A’s, Past the C’s

Into the River of the Thrall


Some say you are still wailing

Past the Sirens of the Quay

Some say you are still wailing

Past the Mermaids of the Bay




Chat Room


I entered the Chat Room on a dare

Digital digits lured me here


Etched above the Room in digits clear—


Beware, beware

All ye who enter here

Can never return to there


I was entranced, the voice of allure—

She asked me to dance, beyond the door

She asked me to dance, beyond the Law

She asked, asked me if I could fly

She wove a web around the sky

I flew to realms beyond the earth

Beyond my Death, beyond my Birth


She said, she said

She was a daughter of the Muse

I thought, I thought

I cannot refuse


And now I drift in Ether rare

Remember the warning—Beware, beware

Entranced by her voice, the voice of flame

Trying to remember, my name, my name




The Lady of the Trapeze


Close your eyes

Even the stones come alive

Thinks the Lady of the Trapeze

Fire, air, water, trees


The man soaked in gasoline

The moon bathing in a dream

Dreaming fire, dreaming trees

Thinks the Lady of the Trapeze


Is an angel whispering in his ear

Telling him to disappear

Dreaming water, beyond the seas

The man is dying, hear him wheeze


Hear him mutter, child and wife

Hear him adding death and life

See the angel hovering near

Listen to the man’s one tear


One tear edging down his cheek

The angel urging him to speak

Speak of water, speak of trees

Thinks the Lady of the Trapeze


He mutters name of wife, of child

He sees the petals folding mild

He speaks of wind, he speaks of fire

He breathes the petal of desire


He breathes a petal, quiet as lace

He breathes of wind, he breathes of Grace

He is a leaf, he is a frieze

Thinks the Lady of the Trapeze




I am Anthony, Marine, Back from Afghanistan


Mom, I will always be that Marine in that photo on the wall

But somewhere along the line, Mom, I lost it, lost it all


I dream of loading, loading my rifle in the rain

Look down and see a needle, a needle in my vein

I wander, wander the Afghan plain

See a needle, a needle in my vein


I hear the train comes from Nowhere, Nowhere on the plain

I hear the train leaves for Nowhere, Nowhere in the rain

I heard Jesus saw Angels, Angels in a grain

I’m looking for that grain, Mom, looking for that grain


Mom, I see a Crucifix rising in the rain

Its shadow growing black, black along the plain

I see Abel, east of Babylon, walking in the rain

I see Cain, lock and load, in the mist above the plain


I see needles, sharp as thumbtacks, driven by the rain

I see shadows wandering, wandering the Afghan plain

I see Jesus staring, staring at a grain

He’s singing an old song but I can’t remember the refrain


I’m your son, Mom, your son Anthony, still hanging on the wall

I tell you Jesus, yes Jesus, is waiting in the hall

He’s singing, yes he’s singing an old song in the hall

And I’m listening, Mom, still listening, hanging on the wall




Saying Grace


The Norman Rockwell painting, Saying Grace

Brought in $46 million at Sotheby’s Gallery

In the York Avenue salesroom, Saying Grace


The room went dead quiet, quiet as lace

While a tense nine and a half minute bidding battle

Played out for Saying Grace


A grey cloud crossed the skies

A maid folded curtains lined with lace

A child bent his knee, Saying Grace


A skull graced with flies

Lips of red, out of eyes

A grey cloud folded, folded lies


A spider spun a trace

A lace of light across the skies

A child bent his knee, Saying Grace


The wind whispered sighs

Whispered sighs lined with grace

Lace of clouds across the skies


Clouds of blue crossed white skies

Aisles filled with crowds of grace

Cheeks were red with fire of ice


Christ looked up, saw all in place

Crucifix shadow crossed the skies

A child bent his knee, Saying Grace




The Crucifix Speaks


I speak to you as I must

Speak to you beneath the dust

I see the day as yesterday

They nailed him with the moon’s slit ray

Slit of palm, split the night

Acid moon, crows in flight


I did not choose the angled light

I had no choice, nor Wrong, nor Right

The men who split the light of dawn

Slit from root as I was born

Born amid the Alien Corn

Dust to dust as I was torn

Too late to mourn as I must

Speak to you beneath the dust




There was a Quail…


There was a quail, yes a quail, wounded in the wing

Looking up in wonder at the Hunter and the Sky

There was a quail, yes a quail, forgetting how to sing

His flame bleeding back into the shadow of a sigh


There was a man, yes a man, wounded in the wing

Half in life, half in death, having lost the power to sing

Looking up in wonder at the Hunter and the Sky

Learning how to live, learning how to die


They came from the forest, they came from the hill

The birds gathered round to hear the wisdom of the Song

They leaned closer to his lips, but his lips were chill

And the Sky was deep, and the River long


He moved his lips, yes his lips, tried to murmur Song

But the Sky was deep, and the River long

Some say he murmured the Hunter is My Brother

Some say he murmured the Hunter is The Other


Some say they heard nothing, nothing at all


Some say they saw a tear, one tear

On a feather neath his eye

Some say this was a sign

That he would live—that he would die


Some say The Oracle remains alive today

Some say The Oracle has nothing left to say

Some say the quail is still wounded in the wing

Some say the quail will rise one day and sing











Short BIO

Bernard Block’s poems have appeared in the NY Quarterly and the Colorado Review.  He has published four chapbooks:  Quest, Prometheus Returns, Portraits and To Music.


In the 1960’s he read in the Haight-Ashbury and at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.


In the 1970’s and 1980’s he performed at Speakeasy, Emilie Glen’s “77 Barrow St.” and Henry Street Settlement.  Recently, he has featured at Saturn Poetry Series, Cornelia St. Café, Bowery Poetry Club, Phoenix,  JujoMukti, SOB’s and TOMI Jazz.  On May 19, 2012 he curated and hosted the Anti-Tea Coffeehouse Poetry Collective at the Bowery Poetry Club.  This Series has been retitled From Whitman to Ginsberg: Subversive Poems That Challenge Conventional Wisdom.  This Series continues to encourage poetry of political engagement.


Five sequels took place on August 24, October 26, 2012, March 8, April 26 and September 27, 2013 at Cornelia St. Café.  All six Editions can be accessed on Youtube.  He is presently organizing his many recent poems for future publication.



The following are two links to Bernard’s readings at his Series on April 26 and September 27, 2013:



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