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Ben Bloch


In the middle of the night,

out of its sleep,

out of its throat,

a dog yells once.

It's woken up,

it's woken itself up with it.

It barks three times,

again three times,

three times against

the fear of solitary noises,

the dog opens its mouth

to drown itself out.

Then a pause,

a small exuberance.

It was I who woke the dog

that woke all the other dogs

in the neighborhood.

A man two blocks away shouts

"Get in here!" out of his window.

He'd kill me if he could,

and fall asleep.

My mother tells me

in the night sometimes

they would wake me up

and prod me for a moment,

till I cried, she says,

it was a lovely thing

to see the change

that started

in the corners of my mouth,

in stages, till I wailed once

and they comforted me.

No mean thing

to love even my crying.

Benjamin Bloch works in the California prison system as a Clinical Psychologist. He also runs an inmate-published newsletter. His first poetry collection, Narrows, will be published in December 2011. He lives in the Monterey Bay Area, in Salinas.

This poem, "Lullaby," is from Narrows, by Ben Bloch, forthcoming from Sheep Meadow Press.

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