On the Waterfront

Cain and Abel

Charlie and Terry

Brother and Brother

You lifted him—Terry, you

lifted your brother, body limp

off the meat hook, gently

your brother    hanging in the alley

             hanging in the sky

You thought—

Charlie    you was my brother

you shoulda been lookin’ out for me

you told me—Terry    take the fall

for the short money    this isn’t your night

              this isn’t my night?

No    you didn’t think that

You thought of that day walking with Edie

through the park    along the water

she drops her glove    Pick it up, Terry

put it on    just keep walking    just keep talking

You thought—I coulda been a contender

I coulda been somebody

instead of a bum    which is what I am

No    you didn’t think that

You thought of Edie’s brother

going up to the roof that night    that night you called to him

you thought they were going to lean on him    just a little bit

the ‘boys’ of Johnny Friendly    threw her brother from the roof

He may be a pigeon

but he can’t fly

Terry, are you still lifting

your brother, gently    off the meat hook

Are you still looking for your pigeons

             circling    the 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]