[Poetics] California Coasting by Gerard Sarnat

1. Third Coast


Discarding “see me” THC cartridge pen,

instead pen put to parchment paper,

much more measured

than if attempted in person


I raise questions whether

after so many years, we two have

a forthright friendship or are still

simply coasting acquaintances?


Do both pull our own weight,

don’t flake while the other

waits half an hour on a corner

outside chosen restaurant once again?


This dunce has been harboring discomfiting

implicit bias not yet front of mind

which feels like you sometimes violate

my personal trust – plus probably vice versa.


Waves of conflict ringing in ears

after summoning such courage to write,

will each of us step up to offer self-disclosure

and emotional support, or drift apart?





2. On My California Coast Men’s Group


Six of us left entering our second quarter century

together, a few already lost to dementia

plus death, we are a fluctuating

multi-cellular organism

that undergoes natural human aging.


Lower testosteroned biologic shifts

both costly and evolving

may be experienced as psychological sea changes

-- even occasional apparent fruition

some uncontrived connectedness, intimacy.


At times I am just this bitty cork

bobbing on a less than pacific ocean

whichever way currents dictate.

No longer young palm tree fronds

hula in synch (or not) to the humid breeze’s song.

Aloha means Goodbye as well as Hello.





Bonus: Spiked Roller Coaster


From once pacific brain

grazing around hotel pool


after a stranger offered you

free drinks from management


mine raced full monte like bevies of Atlantic Beach casino slot machines before grifted I inevitably flatline.


Only much much later after

recovered, back in the room


my wife discovered that while

away her jewels were stolen.




Gerard Sarnat is a physician who’s built and staffed homeless and prison clinics as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. Currently Gerry is devoting energy/ resources to deal with global warming. 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 (University Chicago, Stanford, Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Pomona, Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan, University of San Francisco) plus national (Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, MiPOesias, American Journal Of Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, Poetry Circle, Poets And War, Cliterature, Qommunicate, Texas Review, Brooklyn Review, San Francisco Magazine, The Los Angeles Review and The New York Times) and international publications. He’s authored the collections Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014), Melting the Ice King (2016). Gerry’s been married since 1969 with three kids, five grandsons with a sixth incubating.

gerardsarnat.com




© 2023 by Kelp Journal