Sounds Of Muses | Gerard Sarnat

“Rodgers had infinite talentbut limited soul.
Hammerstein had infinite soulbut limited talent.”
Stephen Sondheim on his mentors

Benjamin Blaze was born on the longest day of the year
where it’s incandescently hot in Davis, CA listening to corn
grow high as an elephant’s eye in the university student garden.

Per usual when we drove up to stay with my son’s family,
on Ben’s third birthday the two of us woke early before 5:43 sunrise
while pond frogs croaked, crickets chirped, his parents tried to sleep in.

This particular morning Coachie abracadabra pulled out and demonstrated
how to use a simple nutcracker brought north to crack open walnuts
we’d picked from surrounding trees on a previous visit.

Of course one backstory has to do with the elaborate soldier Nutcracker
(now sadly broken) Bubbe bought him at a San Francisco Symphony
Tchaikovsky performance the previous Christmas.

The current plan is to separate shells from the meat he’d mix
into our scrumptious pancake batter—just like locally-grown, personally
harvested black and straw and boysenberries added in the past.

A farm boy in training alongside a farm girl mama, he really enjoys hearing
me belt out Oklahoma, which musical’s lyrics surprisingly had stuck
since last sung 60 years ago with Mother who accompanied on the piano.

Although Benjie’d only met Mom once as a newborn at her centenary
two years before she died, he always spoken warmly, referring to
“Great Grandma Rhoda’s stool she gave me and used when she was little.”

Ending our celebration picnicking on the community commons
before setting off amazing Rocket Copter Slingshot LED technicolor flairs
following 8:35 sunset, we all cuddled then tucked boychick into bed.

Afterwards I returned to an ongoing yawnfest project scavenging
sixty years of LCohen’s discarded dross, looking for rare golden nuggets
of wheat winnowed amidst a depressing amount of chaff.

Apparently only post struggling for decades with dozens of false-start
Blue Raincoat drafts, becoming newly maniacally laser-focused OCD—accounts
suggest a change-of-pace selfish, offensive artist—that masterpiece took shape…

Evidently Richard Rodgers was a creative genius able to knock out melodies
in minutes, but Oscar Hammerstein struggled to produce what I consider wonderful
(if at times a bit schmaltzy or middlebrow) poetry—even at my humbler level

I learned to work hard to earn brief bursts of recognition, recommit effort
required to sustain improvement plus proportionate public reward: still widely
if less prestigiously published, is this septuagenarian losing such ruthless energy?


Gerard Sarnat won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, and has been nominated for a handful of recent Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry is widely published in academic-related journals (e.g., University Chicago, Stanford, Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Pomona, Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan, University of San Francisco) plus national (e.g., Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, MiPOesias, American Journal Of Poetry, Clementine, pamplemousse, Deluge, Poetry Quarterly, Hypnopomp, Free State Review, Poetry Circle, Poets And War, Cliterature, Qommunicate, Indolent Books, Pandemonium Press, Texas Review, San Antonio Review, Brooklyn Review, San Francisco Magazine, The Los Angeles Review and The New York Times) and international publications (e.g., Review Berlin and New Ulster). He’s authored the collections Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014), Melting the Ice King (2016). Gerry is a physician who’s built and staffed clinics for the marginalized as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. Currently he is devoting energy/ resources to deal with global warming. Gerry’s been married since 1969 with three kids plus six grandsons, and is looking forward to future granddaughters.

Marxist Grouch’s American Medical Disassociation Dissed | Gerard Sarnat

“You never want to be caught, you never want to be kissed,
you’re just an old antidisestablishmentarianist in our midst
Duke Ellington, You’re Just An Old Antidisestablishmentarianism

Never did pre-med, never yearned to be an MD, though eventually
went into that line of work in order to serve poor folk
who otherwise wouldn’t get any health care at all.

During school I spent those pony-tailed days horsing around
plus organizing against the bloody Vietnam War: did not
attend graduation or take no Hippocratic oath — instead

instead had ‘em mail my diploma. Then after post-doc
training instead of taking a chief residency, becoming
a professor, took un$ought jobs nada else applied for.

Learned Spanish in order to communicate.
1st board-certified internist ever accepted
a job at our community health center.

Later on ran a pilot Medicaid program
which truly pissed off rich white shoe
physicians required to participate.

Their anemic society invited me —
tieless — to a fancy dinner with
the AMA’s (never joined) Prez.

Thought maybe they’d offer
some toast but instead I was
roasted as a Communist.

Proceeded to set up/ staff
homeless clinics nobody
would give funds to.

Put bunch of time in on
jail wards ministering
dying AIDs patients.

Today got a flyer
in the mail from
an old nemesis.

Dr. Sarnet [sic]
if you join we
will send free

bow-tie with
AMA Club!



Gerard Sarnat is a physician who’s built and staffed homeless and prison clinics as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. He won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, and has been nominated for Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards.

Gerry is published in academic-related journals including Stanford, Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Virginia Commonwealth, Arkansas, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan, Slippery Rock, Appalachian State, Grinnell, American Jewish University and the University of Edinburgh. Gerry’s writing has also appeared widely including recently in such U.S. outlets as Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, MiPOesias, American Journal Of Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, Poetry Circle, Blue Mountain Review, Danse Macabre, Canary Eco, Fiction Southeast, Military Experience and the Arts, Poets And War, Cliterature,  Qommunicate, Brooklyn Review, San Francisco Magazine, The Los Angeles Review and The New York Times. Pieces have also been accepted by Chinese, Bangladeshi, Hong Kongese, Singaporian, Canadian, English, Irish, Scotch, Australian, New Zealander, Australasian Writers Association, French, German, Indian, Israeli, Romanian, Swedish and Fijian among other international publications. Mount Analogue selected KADDISH FOR THE COUNTRY for pamphlet distribution nationwide on Inauguration Day 2017. Amber Of Memory was chosen for the 50th Harvard reunion Dylan symposium. He’s also authored the collections Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014), and Melting the Ice King (2016).

Gerry’s been married since 1969 with three kids, five grandsons and looking forward to future granddaughters.