Bernard Block







They call you Maya


You, the waitress, glide the tables

Here in Piccolinos, here in Seattle,

You are Indonesia, beneath the Southern Cross

You are Maya, beyond the Great Wall, north of Nowhere


You are Maya, Minerva, Athena

No, Siva Nataraja, the dancing Shiva

Beyond Time, beyond Light

The Light of Constellations


Yes, you seem mere waitress

But you are wraith, nymph, avatar

You metamorphose in my eyes

Minerva, Shiva, Bodhisattva


I dared speak to you, you spoke to me

Me, a mere pianist, tinkler of Mozart, Schubert

You know nothing of Mozart, Schubert

Spinoza, Schopenhauer, Kant


You are Maya, Blank Wall, Whiteness

No knowledge is All Knowledge, Wisdom

You descend from the heights

To tell us, tell us–how to be, to be


You are waitress here in Piccolinos

Every day, eight hours and bartender in tavern

Taverna, crosstown, eight hours

Seven days a week, you make Maya, your Signature Drink


You live on four hours sleep

Four hours, but cheerful

So cheerful, in the Moment

Minerva, Athena, Shiva


I strip myself of Mozart, Schubert

Prostrate myself, lay before you

My fingers, my eyes, my skin

O Dark Lady of Light


Beyond Time, beyond Light

The Light of Constellations

Beyond the Great Wall

Minerva, Shiva, Bodhisattva





Do not touch, Samantha     (Canticle of Hunger)


Requiescat in pace                Rest in peace


Ducaris ad meliorem locum        Maybe to a better place

a Morte      by Death

Noli tangere, Samantha               Do not touch, Samantha


Ah Samantha, do not touch

Life is Sacred

But Death, Mors, even more Sacred


Cantate Domino, canticum novem                  Sing to the Lord, a new song

Sicut cervus desiderat  fontes aquarum      As the deer longs for flowing streams

So my soul longs for Death

Ah Samantha, do not touch my shoulder

For Death, Mors, has asked me to dance

And I cannot refuse

His dark finger has touched my neck

I cannot refuse


I am the deer who longs for the flowing stream


If you see a starving man, noli tangere

Do not touch him, Samantha

His hollow cheek is longing for the stream

Ad meliorem locum a Morte

To a better place by Death


Cantate ei canticum novem

Sing to him a new canticle

The Song of Hunger

The Song of Salvation


Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris

Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father

Qui tollis peccáta mundi

Who taketh away the sins of the world

Misérere nobis

Have mercy on us


Ah Samantha, do not touch

Life is Sacred

But Death, Death, Mors, even more Sacred





          Must it be?

          It must be.



a sparrow pecking pizza,

East 4th & Avenue B

glint of spite, the fallen ash

½ eaten man, the rancid sea


the park that was, the bus that is

the floating eye, what was will be


          Must it be?

          It must be.


the eaten man eats

the sparrow pecks

a bloody speck

a sigh that flies

a flea replies

what was will be


          Must it be?

          It must be.


a bird that prays

the eaten man

our God that plans

split One to three

the flea that floats

to seas remote


          Must it be?

          It must be.


the pizza pecked on Avenue B

the man that was

must pay a fee

the fee’s an eye

that passes by


          Must it be?

          It must be.


a man, a bird

a god, a pea

a broken chord

a minor key

for floating ears

blackbird Seers


          Must it be?

          It must be.





Born and Unborn:  an Evangelical Psalm


O to be Unborn rather than Born.

Many the wonders, but none more wondrous than the Unborn.

We, the Born, are abandoned not only by this world’s Laws

But by the High Justice of Heaven.


We, the Born, are cast out of Eden, east of Eden

To wander amid the alien corn, raw, naked

Longing to be Unborn, east of Babylon.


Ah, but the Unborn, we worship the Unborn

We, the Forlorn, worship the Unborn

More sacred than the Blood of our Lord

More sacred than the Body of our Lord,

Lord of the Unborn.


The Born must remain hungry.


We, the Born, curse the Born, because we are Born,

False dreams through the Ivory Gate are borne.


Ah, but the Unborn, we worship the Unborn

Kneel, prostrate ourselves here

Amid the alien corn, we are stones

Pray to the Unborn, worship our metallic God

More sacred than the Blood of our Lord

More sacred than the Body of our Lord,

Lord of the Unborn.





Policy of I


A cry appalls

The black’ning walls

Of the Parliament of Sighs,

And the Muse of Stones

Sings to the bones

When they invoke

The Policy of I


A limpid bud

Folds in blood

The tracer cross the sky,

A page is torn

For none is born

When they invoke

The Policy of I


A Celestial tweak

Stirs the cheek,

A beetle scuttles by,

And Moses brings

A Bush to sing

When they invoke

The Policy of I


Now bid the Graces

Freeze their paces,

Dangling from the sky

For crows to suck

While David plucks

When they invoke

The Policy of I



       Photo > Hengki Koentjoro





stench of mud and shit from the trench stuck to his loins


he had pledged allegiance to her upturned lip      bloody mouth

was it tora-bora, the maginot line, north of the 38th parallel?


manufactured at fort dix


vomited under gauze of smoke


he turned to his right      saw his buddy smile      disappear


to his left      a crucifix


he rose from the trench


look for the kid in the green pajamas


in panjwai district, in southern kandahar province


found 16 rusty nails      nail him to the raw wood of the cross


couldn’t find the kid in green


but he did find 16 white sparrows


painted them black


nailed each to crucifix


then mounted the black freighter


sailed up to metallic moon      phosphorous glow



       Photo > Hengki Koentjoro



The Boys of Kandahar  (city  SE  Afghanistan)


The Boys of Kandahar

Will eat your liver raw

Squeeze your balls to croon

Your guts to the rancid moon

Then piss around the stars

The Boys of Kandahar


The Boys of Kandahar

Came to the Land of Tar

Twist the neck of a loon

Then sing a rancid tune

Piss on the floor of the bar

The Boys of Kandahar


The Boys of Kandahar

Staggered far from home

East of Babylon

Swagger past the sun

Pissing past the stars

The Boys of Kandahar


The Boys of Kandahar

Grind their bellies to the hips

Of the hags of Kandahar

For a clip of ear or lips

Then chop them up for tips

From the Boys of Kandahar


The Boys of Kandahar

Here in the Land of Tar

Will stretch your sinew for a dime

Mix your innards in the slime

Grind your guts to tar

The Boys of Kandahar


The Boys of Kandahar

Have wandered far, wandered far

Loins stuck in stench and shit

Lungs gagging on the spit

Their crucifix chopped up for stars

The Boys of Kandahar





The City of Yes


Everything is Perfect

My Life is Perfect

Wife is Perfect

Daughter is Perfect

Water is Perfect

Lawn is Perfect

Dawn is Perfect     and Night     and Moon

And soon, my Son will be perfect


I work hard

Pull my weight

Never late

I am a man

If you say can’t

I say can


Nothing deters    Nothing mars

If you say written in the stars

I say change the stars


All is in your power

The tint of neighbors

The tint of flowers


Buckle down    Smile

A smile is a frown

Turned upside-down


My lawn is perfect

And Dawn    and Night    and Moon

And soon, the Sun will be perfect


You might live in the City of Dark

The City of Doubt

The City of Less


I live in the City of Yes





Pina and the Rhino


Pina, yeah

Pina Bausch


Café Müller

in Wuppertal,  in Ruhr Valley

a rhinoceros got on the monorail

a rhino in Wuppertal


no one noticed


the rhino was playin’ a trumpet

wailin’, actually

Dido & Aeneas        Purcell        purrin’ the air        on the monorail


the prima ballerina, Natalia Bylova

veal stuffed in her toe shoes        pirouetted        leaned over

kissed the rhino        yeah, kissed him (or her)        on the ear

kissed the rhino, tenderly

the rhino

keeled over


yeah, died

kissed by Bylova

on the monorail

in Wuppertal


no one noticed





Erato on the R Train


She did not want her songs in water and soap

She believed in magnetism, she believed in air

She passed over the gap, ivy wreathing her hair


Assumed her mask, her pensive pose

The pose of our forgetting


Some shadows fell, some shadows rose

Some doors opened, some doors closed


We paid our fare

None would dare

Approach her staff

Pointing to the lyre

Listen to her lyre

Placed upon the pyre

Plucking chords of fire


The coach scrolled through the black passage

The moon was gone

We scrolled new phases

Spun new phrases

Scanned new tricks

Sado-maso dominatrix


The doors parted

She departed

None would follow

None would dare

Touch the strands of flaming hair


Magnetic folds from her hair

Pulsing static in the air


We assumed our pose

The masque of gestures

The frieze along the tracks

Melded to the tunnel walls



The Way of Time


What is time.

Is it stop.   Is it go.

Spider weaving rhyme

Beyond.   Is it flow.


Its minute hand

Moves to death.

It’s glass .   It’s sand.

It’s sky.   It’s breath.


If time is shark

Can it bend our space.

Is it spike, a slit,

A line, a face.


As we move from day to night

As we run from sun to sigh,

Does it sing, or a kite

Does it fold to a lie.


As caterpillars slime

Winter into spring,

Does a bell chime,

Do we feel its sting.


Squeeze the watch.   Can you stop time.

Unweave riddle, unspin rhyme.

Unsay prayer, undo grace.

White      black, faceless      face


Blackout      glory.

Unspool plot.

Infinity of space

Back into a dot.





The Sky that is—The Sky that was  (What Emily Saw)


for Emily Dickinson


The sky that is—we see as Dust

What drifts beyond—we see as Must

The force of Light—the force of Dark

The contingent Flame—the chance of Spark

The stars that drift—the exhausted sun

That splits in two—returns to one

The moon that turns an iron course

And pulls the sea with iron force


The sky that was—what Emily saw

The sky that was beyond—before

Before the name of sky was said

Beyond the Valley of the Dead—

A Pyramid is what Emily saw

A Sphinx that flew beyond—before

She saw a Sequel—a Circle beyond

Invisible as Music—but Positive as Sound





But the Grey Goose Flies


Predator, Predator—but the Grey Goose sighs

We shoot him dead—but the Grey Goose flies

Grim Reaper— Black Hawk down

But the Grey Goose flies—hear his sound

Squawks like a hawk— Black Hawk down

But his wings are feather—invisible sound

Swirls in a gyre— a circle sound

Silent music—eiderdown


Strategy of Lethal Force

The moon is pulled on iron course

Pulls the tide with iron force

Wail of birds—the Grey Goose shriek

The iron tear down Pluto’s cheek


Where is the Goose?  He’s everywhere

Why do we kill him?  It’s Love, my dear

Love that grips the joystick clutch

Love that gleams the screen’s light touch

Touch of Love, Touch of Fire

The Lord’s sweet justice—the swerve of desire


The Grey Goose shot—falls to ground

Falls so soft—invisible sound

The Grey Goose dragged o’er bog and stream

Prepped for oven—to baste and steam

Quartered and ripped—placed on plate

Steak knives sharpened—for palate’s sate


But the Goose flies up—he is not dead

Squawks like a Hawk—Black Hawk  red

Swirls in a gyre—invisible sound

Swirls past the rim—never found, never found


Look up—look up—the Grey Goose sighs

We shot him dead—but the Grey Goose flies







Skylark—Sweet Bird

Rise in Birth

Beyond the Folly of the Earth


Float down and up the rigging ship

Glide round and round—reel and dip

See figurines fall up and down

Swoop up the cloud—the glistening crown

Beyond silhouettes that prostrate and pray

To the Spectre of Dismay

The Ebony Form—the swaying hill

The Frozen Face—the whitened chill


O Skylark—sing your song

The rising Sun—nor Right, nor Wrong

As we cataract—blind and fall

Sing your song—lightening pall

Lift us to your rise and fall

Beyond the Mayhem and Display

Beyond the Spectre of Dismay


O Skylark—Sweet Bird

Rise in Birth

Beyond the Folly of the Earth





                In my brief time…


In my brief time on the shores of light

Shores of sound, shores of sight

I’ve seen the flint that snaps the spark

Blaze of light that fades to dark


Is memory the screen that folds

The ocean that the wave unfolds,

Are dreams the valley beyond the hill

Or lies that cloud the slit moon chill


Do we come from black, to black return

The flints that spark, the leaves that turn

And fold in fires of the fall,

Shrivel in a dark recall


Yet I march, whatever rendez-vous

Whatever swerve, false or true

Dying sun, birds in flight,

To shades that fold beyond the night













Bernard Block’spoems 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,  Jujo Mukti, SOB’s and TOMI Jazz.  On May 19, 2012 he curated and hosted the Anti-Tea Coffeehouse Poetry Collective at the Bowery Poetry Club.  Four sequels took place on August 24, October 26, 2012 and March 8, April 26, 2013 at Cornelia St. Café.  All five Editions can be accessed on Youtube.  He is presently organizing his many recent poems for future publication.




Here is the link to my Youtube Channel page which features all five Editions

of the Anti-Tea Coffeehouse Poetry Collective Series as well as other poetry readings I have given at various NYC venues:



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