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Johnny's in the basement 
Mixing up the medicine 
I'm on the pavement 
Thinking about the government  

--  Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues


1. Nikola Tesla haiku [2]*

Beavering away  

by day, genius with a touch 

of night in his mien.


Sometimes larky or

grumpily lugubrious, he

outstranged Edison.

*thanks to Lane, Anthony. “What Would Nikola Tesla Make of a MacBook?” The New Yorker, August 21, 2020.


i. Garden Of Carnage*

Power rangers dive deep though the riddle of Douglas-fir bloom and burn. 

Garter snakes’ twin ruby tongues seek out canned heat from my offsprings’ semen.

Tyger-eyed angels inject seed capital to fashion a killer app.

Blakean blink I rub slaughterhouse lard on indolent sons’ chapped lips. 

Hordes of orange zebra moths mate on our thumbs: zenithed, we must find release. 

Umbrella struts glide east; six-on-a-postage-stamp saucers stare us down.

Rushdie’s Butterfly Girl, enmeshed in gossamer mist, reinvents me. 

Bald pony-tailed paunchy GP, I’m reborn a slick urologist.

Her algal robes dribble blood from the alter toward the Klamath vortex.


*thanks to the New England Journal of Medicine 379, no. 18 (November 1, 2018). 


ii. Gospel Truth Regarding Chocoholics Anonymous Saint Matthew Mewl

Whereas perhaps two prestigious scientific journals concluded

dark (but neither white nor milk) chocolates are swell for you,

lowering bloody pressure & supplying anti-oxidant molecules,

this doctor took it as license to binge until out of the blue

I became humungous which moi unshrewdly poopoos

after which untimely snafu can-do statuesque shrew

of a wife called me a fat yahoo, staged a coup

then branded around my mouth debut tattoos

well as new wazoo ones that read, Andrew

should only be fed organic homebrewed 

licorice once a full or crescent moon

+/- a few Good & Plenty, thank you.


iii. Elderhood haiku

Not a disease, but 

renders us vulnerable;



iv. Subdural Hematoma haiku

“Ailes has two speeds: attack and destroy.”

-- fellow remorseless rightwing provocateur Lee Atwater


If fair and balanced,

why would Rog die from brain clots 

post Fox’s last fall?

v. Sunny Side Up haiku

Universal blood 

type of stellar dawn destars 

morning’s firmament.

vi. Mixing Music, Medicine

“I sat on a rug biding my time 
Drinking her wine.
We talked until two and then she said 

It's time for bed”*


but from everything recently seen

plus read, you and your carpet 

have bad Norwegian scabies,

so, cad, let’s sleep separately.


*Beatles’ Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)


vii. Not “Norwegian Woods”

Buddha found suffering at the root;

Jesus lived it through his electric kindling crucifixion.

If there's god(s), s/he's way more than Yahweh and Allah,

even beyond nature...


The bell rings. We open our lids.

A lotus-kneed smiling Scandinavian begins a dharmette:

before I can focus on him, an Asian perches on the stairs,

blocking my chair's sight line.


Adding insult to injury,

she drops her clodhopper shoes, shattering the silence.

At first, seeds of upsetness pour out,

outraged someone so Eastern could be so oblivious, so insensitive.


Should I tap her right shoulder,

fingers gently pleading, Please move a bit to the left?

Then my skittish practice seems to kicks in,

making me aware of the gratuitous story I'm building.


Realizing the irony of my ruthless expectation –-

that a yellow-skinned lady is more sangha-atuned

than a WASP or a Jew

-- I laugh at myself.


And decide to just close my eyes again,

relax back into the blond’s teaching about craving.

A staged invasion of love and compassion

suddenly lifts me above his most intelligent design.


Beyond fundamentalist virgin births,

resurrections, excommunications;

further than atheist quarks

and Darwinian quirks.


On a middle path rather than extreme.

Momentarily not missing the forest for the trees.

Deep inside, a fleeting white light shines.

I do my best to bless all sentient beings.

viii. Acromegalic Gigantism haiku

Post growth spurt, success 

story’s international

stage, fam left behind

globe-trotting China

to US — Wei has seven 

foot six-inch reasons.  

ix. Hemolacria*

I cried blood entering Colma,

the confounding company town 

which was zoned just for burial biz,

which is relevant,

since we were going there to witness

our friend being put to rest 


*thanks to Di Maria, Alessandra, and Fausto Famà. “Hemolacria — Crying Blood.” New England Journal of Medicine 379, no. 18 (November 1, 2018): 1766–1766. 

On the way, back of a black limo 

occupied by loved ones, 

I wondered out loud 

if there may exist similar villages

where all your births take place

and absolutely everyone’s required

to pour forth tears of pure joy

xi. Burton Lines*

A 39-year-old man is brought to my emergency room

from a local international airport.


He reported feeling very ill after the ingestion

of thirty packs of opium weighing fifty grams each.


The mule admitted this was his fifteenth trip

for a drug cartel which paid good money post delivery.


On inspection, this gent had gray gingival abnormalities

-- the classic sign I read about way back in med school of


chronic poisoning by lead that turned out to contaminate

what was seen on CAT and which eventually passed.


*thanks to Helmich, Friederike, and Guntram Lock. “Burton’s Line from Chronic Lead Intoxication” and Zamani, Nasim, and Hossein Hassanian-Moghaddam. “Ingestion of Lead-Contaminated Packs of Opium.” New England Journal of Medicine 379, no. 19 (November 8, 2018): 1861–1861. 

xii. Yes We Have No Fava Beans Threshold                             

Leathery green pods maturing

toward blackish-brown


this boychick avoids sumptuous

seedlings that leak milk


which if ingested would lead 

to broken red-blood cells 


and quite possibly my death.

Such being the exact case


I must obsess over what restaurants

might call broad, bell, tic


or horse beans like a plague to

manage G6PD deficiency.


My fragile hemocyte cell walls 

are subject to hemolysis


from fever plus pharmaceuticals,

including one preventing


malaria -- I came within hours

of starting Primaquine


planning to accompany a son

on his New Guinea trip


to do fieldwork: the diagnosis

of Glucose-6-Phosphate


mutation was made the day

we planned to start Rx


for kyboshed adventure travel – 

would have ended badly.


Neither daughter has the gene,

so no family “favism.”

xiii. Ace In The Who Who Do You Love Hole?

Trying to sanitize my brutal childhood, Pops, who was addicted to reds, 

hospitalized me for what Mom billed as angry measles -- but I collapsed 

the remove by calling their nimbus out as a dark cloud of depression.  


Generically known sertraline has for 16 years since boomed on

the market with brand names from Actiser to Zoloft which is always 

in the top 5 SSRIs also prescribed to treat OCD, PTSD, PMDD 


among a range of acronyms. Newer more expensive drugs now topping

the list bloomed then were touted for fewer side effects from psychiatric 

(e.g., suicide) to weight gain to knock-on arousal/orgasm disorders. 


However subgroups variously situated on the a/sexual spectrum --

including other sub rosa so-called family men who ostensibly no longer 

want or more likely aren’t getting any -- still rank soothing big Z #1.


i. Now Howz That Worked Out?

After medical school then post-doc training,

figuring I knew the rules & could turn body dials 

to be truly healthy plus fit, I picked odd jobs 

largely based on lunchbreak exertion possibilities

plus if there also were showering capabilities

which eventuated in 1st running on hard concrete

that I soon abandoned in favor of apparent

idyllic jogs with buddies bottom of San Francisco 

Bay; though since Alviso’s below sea level, 

when rain overran banks, previous flood sandbags 

actually asbestos-packed, led to realizations

we’d damaged our lungs each time exercising there

so I changed to going up-down hills leading 

to compression syndromes eventuating in vertebrae 

crushed into chalk/ my two hip replacements --

thusly suggesting this guru still had some work to do. 


ii. Milk Of Human Kindness: Heartless Work Place


- thanks to Sweet Tree


Having sex in the designated 

lactation break room 

filthy with bodily waste


is our perfect aperitif 

before ominous last happy hour

where soapy glasses clink

after next round of layoffs 

are announced by some boss

who following 3:34 AM phone call


congratulates herself 

for tailgating an ambulance

with flashing lights but no siren


to show up at Eisenhower Hospital’s 

emergency depart-ment just as ex-

employee’s cardiac monitor stops.

iii. International Anonymous’ Nifty-Fifty* Underground Works New York Subways:

Nattering Nabobs Of Negativism

Pantoum parody: patchouili/ paprika-ed plainclothes police packing pistols 

plus peacockoid pearly prosecutors perennially peruse parallel platforms and proximate pavilions 

pancaked with plentiful possibly-paired purposeful proficient pickpocket paladins with previous perhaps playfully parosoled paperboy patterns pilfering pudgy people’s pastries or purses or phones 

planning potential prodigious personal profit from prosaic pawnshops before post parade pissass 

palookas’re paddocked then painfully peddle parabolic pleas of penitent patriotic pabulum pre-prison.

*Wilson, Michael. “International Pickpockets Ride New York’s Subway, Pilfering and Profiting.” The New York Times, January 27, 2019, sec. New York.


i. Bouts Of Muse Risk-Taking

“A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times; a dozen or two dozen times and he is great.”

-- Randall Jarrell


So I’ve climbed more high mountains, 

lain flat next to trees in open fields,

rode bi or motorcycles, 

taken baths outside

during storms

trying to get hit by claps of inspiration.


ii. Chemistry

An MD who never did much pre-med,

I hated not some but all laboratories 

which almost bored me to death.


On the other hand, when it comes to

organic chem of composing poems,

Gerard Sarnat tends to be all in.


Do you put that word Blue front of Bird, 

or doesn’t it matter? What a difference 

a methyl group, or two, can make.

iii. M/analytics

Opinionist’s loud vibes entered the room before I do.


Should we empty-nested divorced boomers 

take that slow road 

millennials are going on -- 

fewer dates, having less sex and marrying later if at all? 


Do they know something about love this mid-septuagenarian doesn’t?


iv. Physics Of Climate Change [In]justice haiku 

While scarcer water 

entropy states go down now, 

more fires plow uphill. 


v. May Kansasan Not Rest In Peace  -- David Koch, 1944-23August2019

Humungous carbon footprint profits

funding tons of climate change denial

and fake science 

                              David and still Charles

build paid “AstroTurf” artificial grassroot


vi. Grandkids Home-Schooled Physics haiku

Sheltered in place – their

stairs ‘lectric smart waiter makes 

my manual plumb dumb.


vii. Existential Final Frontier?

In a galaxy not far, far away…

about 430 million years or so ago

plants colonized our then bare earth

creating land rich in food and resources

as fish evolved from ancestral vertebrates

in the sea. It was another  ~30 million years

before these creatures crawl out of warm water

to begin their evolutionary lineage we barely sit

atop of today—while human-caused climate changes

threaten all too many species devolved into rising oceans.

Poet, aphorist or sometimes meanderist; GERARD SARNAT, MD is widely published internationally in print and online. He has been nominated for the pending Science Fiction Poetry Association Dwarf Star Award, won San Francisco Poetry’s Contest, the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize; and has been nominated for handfuls of Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry’s publications include 2024 University of Idaho/Confluence Lab, 2024 Laughing Ronin Press, Hong Kong Review, Tokyo Poetry Journal, Buddhist Poetry Review, Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, San Diego Poetry Annual, Potomac Review, Hamilton-Stone Review, Northampton Review, New Haven Poetry Institute, Texas Review, Vonnegut Journal, Brooklyn Review, San Francisco Magazine, Monterey Poetry Review, The Los Angeles Review, and The New York Times; as well as by Oberlin, Yale, NYU, Slippery Rock, Northwestern, Pomona, Brown’s College as well as its Alpert Medical School, Harvard, Missouri Baptist, Stanford, Dartmouth, Penn, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Grinnell, North Dakota, Nebraska, McMaster, Maine, Universities of British Columbia and Toronto and Chicago and Virginia presses; Awakenings Review, Arts & Cultural Council of Bucks County Celebration, Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival Anthology, the erozine, Antithesis, Magma, Ginosko, Chiron Review, WORDPEACE, Midwest Zen, Cordite Poetry Review, Young Ravens, Fjords, Turtle Island, MIPOesias, Ocotillo Review, Gravity of the Thing, American Writers Review/San Fedele Press, San Francisco Creative Writing Institute, Israel Association of Writers in English, In Parentheses, Sacramento Review, Pocket Samovar, Black Sunflower, Free State, The Broken City, Sandy River Review, Three Rooms Press/Maintenant, New World Writing, Songs of Eretz, New Verse News,The Font, BigCityLit, HitchLit Review, Lowestoft, Washington Square Review, The Deronda Review, Jewish Writing Project, Arkansas Review. Gerry is a Harvard College and Medical School-trained physician who’s built and staffed clinics for the disenfranchised as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. Currently he is devoting energy/resources to deal with climate justice, and serves on Climate Action Now’s board. Gerry’s non-biologic progeny include four collections (Homeless Chronicles: From Abraham To Burning Man, Disputes, 17s, Melting the Ice King).

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