Death Comes for James Baldwin

He said I saw her picture

Her picture on the wall

I gave him a straw, a straw

He could swallow no more

He could swallow no more

His throat was dry

Dry as Death Valley floor

He could swallow, swallow no more

He stared at the picture

Was there Light in her eye

Or was it dark, was it black

Was it black, what he saw

He said I remember, I remember

What it was like before…before

Was it dark    was it black

Was it black    what he saw

Was he thinking of Pine

Was he thinking of Beale Street

Was he riding the Culver

Or the West End Line

Did he see a Tower of Gold

Did he see the Morning Star

Was he opening    opening

Was he closing the door

Did he see Martin

Did he see Malcolm

Did he see Moses

At the door

Was the bush burning

Was his tongue on fire

Was The Law given    was The Law taken

As he went out the door

He looked out at the mountain

Did the Dungeon shake

Was it Jacob’s Ladder

That he saw

Was there a flame

A flame rising

A wall of fire

That he saw

Was there Another Country

A Tower of Gold

An Anointed Vessel

That he saw

Did he hear thunder

Was he lost

Was he found

Was there Light    upon the wall


  • Bernard Block was born and raised in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn and attended Cornell University and Brooklyn College. 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, North Beach coffee houses and Golden Gate Park. He returned to NYC and studied with the poet Colette Inez in the mid '70's. He earned his living as a caseworker with the Bureau of Child Welfare in New York City (he is now retired). Bernard has read at all the major spoken-word venues in NYC. He has presented his poetry in venues in Philadelphia, Columbia, SC and Asheville, NC. 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” at Cornelia St. Café. There have been 21 editions of this Series; the most recent was presented on September 28, 2018. All 21 editions were videotaped and can be accessed on his YouTube Channel. He has had 38 poems published in the prestigious European on-line literary journal Levure Littéraire #8, #9 and #12 (Editors: Rodica Draghincescu; Erika Dagnino). Five of Bernard's poems appear in the French/English literary journal Recours au Poème (Editor: Marilyne Bertoncini) with French translation by Elizabeth Brunazzi. In an article in this journal regarding the NYC poetry scene, Ms. Brunazzi devotes a significant discussion to Bernard's poetry and his organizing role on that scene. Bernard Block’s book of poetry "Am I My Brother’s Keeper?" has been released by Dark Light Publishing. This is a bilingual edition, English/Spanish, with evocative translations by the eminent Mexican poet, Roberto Mendoza Ayala. It is available on Amazon and from the author: [email protected]