Mudita* Off the Dharma Seat +another, by Gerard Sarnat

Let’s knock off a less solemn poem
that perhaps someone can understand.

Uncruel February Sunday. Lovers or friends,
Moms and dads teach kids

to ride bicycles. Dogs chase dolphins
and Frisbees into the glass waves

along the curling of the shore. Old and not,
rich and poor, black and white,

a marriage party, those alone
come from all over Los Angeles

to bathe in the glory while most of the rest
of the US freezes.

Instead of usual pup enthusiasm
chasing every ball,

instead of jogging or walking
or fashioning sand castles, I bring

a beach chair, just sit.
The water and air talk to me about how they

aren’t getting any younger either.
A gaggle of nondescript birds

dart past an inert maybe dead seagull --
i am them and she is me.

In lieu of time’s conspiracy
each year since winter started, what must

be done with last breaths becomes clear
as icicles penetrate my lungs.

A stooped rotund couple’s
ropy gray sweaters strain to absorb the sun.

Delight in their radiance as we pass,
my heart’s joyous spot warms up.

* empathetic joy in Pāli and Sanskrit. English has no single word
for Buddhism’s third brahmavihārā, or divine abode.

Mirror, Mirror Image of Prime Time Number Sucks
Green-arrow-left-turn, seventeen’s
first licensed encounter, the screeching

macho bumper-car’s tires bald,
curfew retard valve sideswiped, fractured;

do I burn rubber, give greasers behind a shot, or
rev my sweet time?


Chugging licentious rear view,
gearhead’s stick-shift wobbly, hairline recedes

and widow’s peak withers
despite shampooists’ countless Dracula tricks.

Someone you tap-danced with
then floorboard throttled, now we’re getting thick, dull.

Bowels balk, pad to the john,
c’mon, stare at water spots on the ceiling,

exhaust an ugh volume
sponsored by the Bathroom Readers’ Institute,

scrunch down no luck. Spinach chewed,
gut can’t catch a brake, pants messed no big whoop

-- honk when I dump. Stale costumes
stink, love handles don’t fit, not the fairest,

gomer’s retro wardrobe
subsists on stale matzo and diet cola.

Here there come go, crotchety
dead-end potbelly of figuring out,

seventy-one’s less plummy --
use plungers or muesli but spare me prunes.

Clutching a bag of refluxed tragedies,
mourning fiddlefart dimness

of time, I lecture my reflection
as the clock goes ticktockticktock.

“Mirror, Mirror Image of Prime Time Number Sucks” and “Mudita Off the Dharma Seat” will appear in his third collection, 17s, in which each poem, stanza or line has 17 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. His pieces have appeared or are forthcoming in seventy or so 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. For the Huffington Post's review of his work, and more, visit