Ruben Rama-Tag-Rag

From Trinidad    or where

Lugged a mattress    no, two

Off the truck    up the stairwell

Serta Beauty Rest    Magic Foam

Ruben Rama-Tag-Rag

Did not understand how he got here

From where    or why    could not even try

He was carrying air    but air was heavy

Bending his thin frame    which came from where

He only knew he must awake

When the sun blinked    and work

Till it sunk    he was not paid

And wondered why    he worked for his father

Who bought the truck    and he had debts to pay

            so his father said

Ruben Rama-Tag-Rag

Was born in Trinidad    came to America at one

He was not a citizen    did not know why

Was told he should have a Social Security Card

But this was hard    so he must lug mattresses

            for his Dad    from Trinidad

And where was his Mom

Somewhere in Pennsylvania    he said

And his sisters    spread around

He did not know  where

He did not know why

            just spread around

One sister    Rabia was her name

Had died    and was underground

Buried under a Juniper Tree    he said

She had turned into a leaf

The leaf into a crow

The crow    cawed outside his pane

Every morn    and he blinked with the sun

And was reborn    to lug mattresses

To tired folk    who must sleep well

On Serta Beauty Rest    Magic Foam


  • 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]