Jesus was born in 1993 in NYC  (one of the outer boroughs)

He taught himself carpentry in the garage of a friend

But this was not an age for a demand for his skills

He was loved (even a bit coddled) by his mother and father

            Maria and Jose (he was an only child)

Jesus went to school in the era of  No Child Left Behind   Race to the Top

It was the Epoch of Testing   Jesus did not do well in tests

He was pressured to read and answer quickly

            He was a slow reader (he liked to ponder)

He did well in English   especially Proverbs  Allegories  Parables

But his biggest problem was mathematics   he felt he reached his limits

Newton was much smarter than me   he thought

And computer skills?   This was the Era of the Internet

This was not his métier   his forte   he got lost in spreadsheets

And virtual reality  did not seem real to him

A Facebook “friend” did not seem like a real friend   to him

His grades, test and SAT scores were not on a par

            With many of his comrades

He did not get into a top college or even a mid-level college

He could have gone to a Community College and taken

            Remedial math and statistics

But this would not have led him to anywhere he wished to go

            (in fact, he had no idea where he wanted to go)

He sometimes wished he had been born a few decades earlier

He heard there were woodworking shop classes back then

He could have gone to a Vocational School   back then

Become an apprentice to a carpenter

Worked for a furniture company or free-lanced

He heard there were many opportunities   back then

            You didn’t have to go to college    in that epoch

So what to do?  A clerk at Walmart?  He felt the company

            was unethical   exploited Latino workers, etc.

A Starbucks barista?  The coffee   way too expensive

            even Ethos Water   not for the working man

            (he also feared he would have trouble brewing coffee correctly,

            remembering orders)

A service employee at MacDonalds?  or Burger King?

            (the food was poison   so he believed)

What to do?  Welfare was out of the question

            he was white   male   single   couldn’t he just get a job?

            (and there were time limits now on public assistance   no solution)

Begging on the subway?  He was not a Vietnam veteran   even Iraq

            (he had all his limbs)

The only solution   become one in the army of homeless

            on Third Avenue   below 14th Street

            (Third Avenue becomes The Bowery   at a certain point)

He laid a pallet down  (of a discarded towel

            with a cushion of Bounty Paper Towels)

            in front of an abandoned storefront

He scrolled a message on cardboard for passers-by

My name is Jesus

            Sorry to bother you

            I am homeless

            A quarter   a nickel   a dime   a penny

            Any amount would be deeply appreciated

            A sandwich   an orange   peanuts   or chips

            May God bless you

            And have a great day


  • 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]