The Way of Names

What is a name

Can it change tremor to sigh

Truth into lies

Change the thing it signifies

Change the moon into an eye

A crater to a sty

Sty into a vision

Doubt into decision

Does a name graze the skin

Touch the tongue

Clutch the throat

Scan the cave in back of the lung

Does it hunt the black route

In the bend of the spleen

End in the throat

Begin the beguine

Is it a song, a sob

A hiss, a sigh

Can it exalt, denounce

Deny, defy

Does a name change you

Do you change the name

Is everything different

Everything the same

When we carve a name in stone

Does the stone feel the name

Is everything different

Everything the same

The bone, the ash, the nail, the hair

Is there a shadow on the hill

Does it listen

Can it hear

When a dog hears its name

Will it come when we call

Do we see past the stars

Do we rise, do we fall

When we built the Tower of Babel

Did we speak the same word

Did we shout, did we whisper

Did we listen, were we heard

Will the water in the stream

Bless the babe when he dips

Bless his eyes, curse his bones

Glorify his whitened lips

Does Wordsworth’s babe

Born in glory

Name the world

Or become the Story


  • 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]