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The Unofficial Robert Bloch Website

Essays

ROBERT BLOCH REMEMBERED

Sprague Vonier

The jasmine blooms in the moonlight, its white
grace notes etching shadows on walls of my room.
The moon makes cemeteries into gardens,
white against the velvet sky where old souls sleep.

We can read, under its luminescence,
on every stone, the names of those who therein lie.
The earth is fragrantly benign in the hot summer air.
On such a night my friend Bob Bloch, while still a boy,

sat vigil in the old Union Cemetery. He lay hidden
among the headstones till the gates were closed, then
choosing a grave site where a family lay --
mother, father and all three children dead

of influenza in 1918, the very year Bloch
and I were born. He sat on the father's gravestone.
All night he stayed alone in company of the city's dead
The owl called and the bat flew. The fox rustled

dried leaves and feral cats hunted among the stones.
And there Bloch stayed all night, determined to know
ways of death and the truths deep within the human
heart. We waited for him outside the gates at dawn,

and looked hard at his young face and knowing eyes.
Had he changed? We couldn't tell, but he changed us.
We knew the sweetness, then, of life and valued
more the way he made us laugh. But Bloch never told

us how it was that night, never spoke his thoughts
or named terrors in the black night when the moon set.
His life's work dealt in death: a thousand stories
and a hundred novels of horror and unspeakable crime:

death as the ultimate penalty and yet the final joke --
"nobody ever gets out of this place alive."
Was it his knowledge of the darkest recesses of the soul
that gave our friend his great humanity, his capacity

for friendship, his love of life, his understanding
of our troubles and the urgency of our desires?
And how he loved to laugh and tell stories!
He's gone now, claimed his own patch in Forest Lawn.

But whenever spines tingled to spooky yarns,
story tellers will speak his name,
and Bob's boyish phantom will prowl
moonlit cemeteries turned into gardens.

_______________________

Sprague Vonier is an author and a poet living in the Milwaukee area.

This poem is 2007 by Sprague Vonier, and is reprinted here with permission. All rights reserved. The webmaster wishes to extend his thanks to Mr. Vonier.