Diane Block









My father began to hallucinate, she said.

He said, They are holding an investigation.

His wracked body crawled into a ball, she said.

And then she said, his eyes shut.


The night we kept vigil he said nothing

His parched tongue craved moisture

The breath rattles grew further apart

Slow, slower    then stopped.


So this is Death, she said.

The air trembled.

Did his body tremble, too?


Her eyes traced the lines of his face

Then a tear, one tear, traced

a line of his face.






Black branches spin

skeletal web,

gnarled fingers embrace me.

Poised       mid-air,

fallen a long way—

I live here.


That white mask      my mother,

how I      cry after her.

She knows nothing of this—

frozen and opaque,

only stares

from her hood of bone.




Symphonie Fantastique:  Past and Present


Plainview High School

Silver January night

Deliberating    no particular reason

Finally pluck music folder from the bin

Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz

Title page

Art nouveau design    lettering circa 1900

Now frayed and yellow

Property of Manhattan School of Music

Stamped in upper right-hand corner

My alma mater

Thirty-two years ago


Conductor gives downbeat

Whirlwind    bows slapping strings

Whiplashes    another conductor had commanded

Notes leap from page

Spurring fingers into infernal dance

Pencilled fingerings:   numbers here    there

Looks like my handwriting

I note casually

Dismiss as coincidence

Numbers reappear across the page

Demanding my attention

(Could these be mine?)


Marche au Supplice

Bassoon punctuates the pizzicato strings

There it is:

Bassoon pencilled above the bar


It rises


You wrote this


Valse, macabre

Surrealistic Waltz    I wrote this

As it was written

As it is written

Embraces me

Whirling, reeling, revelling


Thirty-two years




Psalm:  to a Violin


arm of my arm

body of my body

you wear your cracked skin

cradle     crook of elbow


fold into me

your scroll my lid

your peg my bone

your bridge my tongue

you burn vowels

green vein

wound the skin


treble strings

my gut

sing sotto voce

wound to taut pitch

blood quaver

pulsate      inner lobe


when all is spent

a frame of blue


who will have you

when I am gone?

arm of my arm

blood of my blood

body of my body




Half Harvest Moon


Sunken heavy, you breathe October earth

reflect blush autumn       burnt orange mist

I understand how – weary of holding yourself aloft –

you let the weight of you drop

to almost touch the earth.  Now, you straddle

the horizon, recline with laconic grace,

an invitation to swing the dark ether

or, perhaps, mount the boat of you

to drift the echoing sea

never to return




When Red Leaves Turned to Ice


What brought this lumpen sack of black to fold in

Bend to Third Avenue pavement, frozen in prayer

The gray windows stare in wonder

At the black sack frozen at an angle


Bend to Third Avenue pavement, frozen in prayer

His black coat melded to pavement, the December night

The black sack frozen at an angle

Was he there when red leaves turned to ice


His black coat melded to pavement, the December night

Will he still be there

Was he there when red leaves turned to ice

When ice melts to green


Will he still be there

The gray windows stare in wonder

When ice melts to green

What brought this lumpen sack of black to fold in




The Glass Unicorn


She sank frozen in a cocoon

frail arms trembling

slicing the air.

She wore lavender silk for him,

the gentleman caller

and when he called

barely did she trudge across the floor,

club foot dragging its weight to the door.


You must be Laura, he said.

Eyes lowered, she nodded.

His kind voice poked

the walls of her cocoon.

Surely there must be one thing you care for.


Yes, there is one thing.

Her pure, high voice broke

a din of silence.


She held a glass unicorn

in her delicate hand.

See how the moonlight shines through, she whispered,

no longer trembling.


Blue Roses he named her.

He saw her eyes were moons

and summoned her to dance.

But I cannot dance!

(for the club foot would shame her).

She slowly, slowly

succumbed to his arms

to follow his lead

shed her cocoon

and together they took flight.


He blessed her with his kiss.

Was she redeemed?


Blue Roses, you are different from the others

she heard him say,

but I am beholden to another.

The walls of the cocoon thundered

she stared down, down into dark

his footsteps trailing out the door

saw the glass unicorn

still glinting in the moonlight…






Twilight falls.  Someone’s playing an accordion

Parisian-style … afar

its doleful tones float the lilt of wind

tenderly, as the bedroom curtains flutter,

or as the stone, delighted by release,

improvises its dance along the skim of pond


His breaths are even now,

his brow swept clean and smooth

by golden air.  She sits without stirring

peering at his golden face, no trace of line;

she thinks   There is no time,

only deep pools of night

only long golden days

to swim in, as twilight falls




January 1, 2013:















Diane Block is a professional classical violinist who received her training at the Manhattan School of Music, with a Master’s Degree in Violin Performance in 1980.  It was there, at MSM, that she developed an interest in Romantic and Modern Poetry.  This interest was shared by close musician friends at monthly musical and poetry salons.




October 28, 2013:





Diane has free-lanced as section violinist in the metropolitan area for the last 30 years.  She retired as Orchestra Director on June 21, 2013 after serving the Farmingdale School District on Long Island for 25 years.   Presently, she and the cellist Terry Batts comprise the violin/cello Duo Gemini Journey that has performed at Cornelia St. Café and other venues in NYC.  She also maintains a private violin studio in her home.


Diane met her husband, poet Bernard Block, at the poet Emilie Glen’s home in 1982 and has been connected to the NYC Poetry world ever since.  Originally she read other people’s poetry (and still does) but it was Bernie who encouraged her to write her own, which she has for the last several years.


For Diane there is an intimate link between classical music and poetry.  One seems to flow out of the other and her experience of both art forms feels very much the same.


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