Lovers’ lane, water
falls, unique pure drop-
merge in brackish pond scum.
Bugs seem to scoot calmly:
eat or be eaten.
Buddy Holly on some car radio, Lothario reigns in my heart
so I head to Bolinas to get mended
by a country doctor
whose alpha wave machine
culls out good vibes from bad
for five bucks. When mine
turn weird, Irv says, “No problemo,
Ten dollars, we'll flip-flop electrodes.”
From her mythic Peet’s perch, the Nordstrom bag lady maddening jester
coyly panhandles luscious Palo Alto,
Ma’am, please, no coins just bucks.
Among some crafty well-regulated hypomanic professors
and the legions of less-compensated
The Farm’s Elysian Field of OCD Ph.Ds who can’t find jobs
escape officemate islets of dysfunction,
boil as baristas.
On the Hundredth Anniversary of the Boxer Rebellion
“White Demons.” The minder’s reluctant translation still right hooked my head.
Bullet train from Canton’s Zoo to Hong Kong, my sparring daughter tussled
“Why wouldn’t those moms let me roughhouse with their kids?” Boxed in, no answer,
I counterpunched, “How’s your box lunch?” while uneasy passengers gestured
at our devil forks, scanned us for hoofs. We zoomed toward the once colony
the Marquess of Queensberry or Prince Charles conceded in the last round
since KO’ing China during largely unprovoked Opium Wars.
Nodding off, I wondered, Why do boxer shorts hang from every window
we pass? A man in the aisle shrugged, Sir, hard-working peasants leave the land
to fight for their families, send renminbi home doing twelve-hour shifts
daily, sharing beds with folk they don’t know since they work opposite times.
The only thing that overlaps is half-price factory merchandise --
I bet Chairman Bill and Madame Hillary run the US worse than that!
Feeling jabbed then low-blowed, getting mad but no referee to protect
me from me, humor proved to be the great eraser: as we giggled
about each other’s foibles, even those around us relaxed their clench.
Editor's Note: Some of these poems may appear in Gerard Sarnat's third collection, 17s, in which each poem, stanza, or line has seventeen syllables.
Gerard Sarnat is the author of two critically acclaimed poetry collections, 2010’s HOMELESS CHRONICLES from Abraham to Burning Man and 2012’s Disputes. He has been published or is forthcoming in over 80 journals and anthologies. Harvard and Stanford educated, Gerry’s been a physician who’s set up and staffed clinics for the disenfranchised, a CEO of health care organizations, and a Stanford professor.