The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®

 

Gerard Sarnat

Happy Holidays From The Urban Ministry

 

Tear-jerker television ads raised $62,328,569
between Thanksgiving and New Years for pets
while homeless causes brought in $17,325,200
for veterans of our wars or other unhoused folks.

Mothers plus kids seem relegated to roaming streets
in competition with dogs plus rats for food to gobble
while some with AIDs feel lucky if they are allowed
to camp in places without getting rained or snowed on.

 

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[Deshawn, may he rest in peace, was a veteran whom I cared for
at the Homeless Clinic I established at the Urban Ministry of Palo Alto
where I later served as Board Chair.]

 

Gerard Sarnat

Ode To Duane Reade Drug Store Chains Knocked Off

 

Upside of downers ‘n poppers,
Oxy RXs, over the counter Sudafeds, under the counter
or on the corner -- don’t matter.
At first as a general practitioner I could offer extra service
feel-goods to winos but specialists
armed with so much ice in their veins make my teeth ache
gobbled that high price business
thusly we folk devolved into pill-pushing soda-jerk clerk
wholly owned nihilist subsidiaries
for a handful of pharmaceutical-industrial complex firms.
Gut-wrenching kick in the pants --
OD’d girl unconscious on the floor of a Family Dollar store
while a baby in dirty footie pajamas
tugs at her mother’s lifeless arm before trying to nurse --
didn’t bother me because by then
I was well off the factory line whereas brothas still hump
whether capsules above board or not.

 

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Gerard Sarnat

Life’s Carousels

 

We are a matched set: short, Jewish, earnest & collectively ambidextrous.

We were born when Truman was President.

We lived on the Southside of Chicago before our fathers & mothers moved us to LA.

We parallel-played in the same alleyway off Olympic Blvd behind my third-story walkup apartment.

We attended the same grammar school.

We learned in retrospect that we both loved handball on Beverly Vista’s playground.

We were in some of the same high school classes although I was two grades ahead.

We dated each other’s friends.

We were class presidents plus got plenty of A’s.

We attended prestige colleges, she Berkeley, me Harvard.

We did sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll or Vietnam War resistance with lots of other people.

We then became interested in each other.

We did sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll & Vietnam War resistance together.

We married.

We pursued advanced degrees at Stanford.

We had three children & have four grandchildren so far as well as Siamese cat siblings & mutt litter mates.

We elders have had almost five decades of ups & downs.

We previously slept on our regular sides of the bed no matter where we were -- mine was closer to the bathroom.

We watched in horror two years ago as she danced the hora too vigorously at our youngest’s Jerusalem wedding.

We watched in horror a month ago as he chased & rescued a grandkid on a merry-go-round so he won’t fall off.

We had/ might’ve matching knee replacements in Fremont --already her right, soon maybe his left knee plus hip.

We took/ could perhaps take good care of each other in Portola Valley during long unpleasant post-op courses.

We consider digging ourselves holes overdoing it for offspring worth it: family is what we do.

We now sleep on different regular sides of the bed no matter where we are – me always the left, she the right.

We eventually will be retired from existence by death though our parents all live/d to about the century mark.

We reserved plots at Hillside but I’m lobbying for cremation with a single shared urn when time rolls around.

 

 

 

GERARD SARNAT MD’s been nominated for a 2016 Pushcart Prize. He’s authored Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014) and Melting The Ice King (2016) which included work published in Gargoyle and LowestoftMount Analogue selected Sarnat’s Kaddish For the Country for distribution as a pamphlet on Inauguration Day 2017 and as part of the Washington/nationwide Women’s Marches. Gerry’s built/staffed clinics for the marginalized, been a CEO of healthcare organizations and Stanford Med professor. GerardSarnat.com.

 

 

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