My Periodic Table

(for Oliver Sacks, Physician, Neurologist, Psychologist)

In my final days

What is surely my final breath

I return to memory of sky

Powdered with stars

A world where there is no life

but also no death

I again surround myself

With metals and minerals

Little emblems of Eternity

Look    here in its lead casket

Is element Ninety

Crystalline Thorium

Sparkling like memory

Memory of sky

Powdered with stars

Gathering near

gathering far

And there    Bismuth    element Eighty-three

from a mine in Bolivia

Slowly cooled from a melt

Iridescent crystals

Terraced like a Hopi village

Under memory of sky

Powdered with stars

Emblems of Eternity

Bismuth    element    Eighty-three

I hope to see

But will not…

O Bismuth    modest gray

Unregarded, ignored

Even by lovers of metal

What I wouldn’t give to see

Another day

of gray

Under memory

of sky…


  • 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]