Poems by Gerry Sarnat


On The Vasettha Sutta

Two Brahmins brought the Blessed One a dispute.
One argued, We were born pure into this caste.
The second claimed, Class is by virtue of actions.

Buddha, who often stayed silent, untouchable,
above such fray, discoursed in no uncertain terms:
Grasses or trees are distinct from birth, not man.

Still twenty-five hundred years later, past European
colonial rape and pillage of people with different
skin color, humans continue to subjugate each another.

And in our New World, into the 1990s—believe
or not—the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulated
tobacco to favor white growers over black brothers.

Those who hurt tend to hurt others, the healed heal.
Whoever serve others are servants, thusly be proud.
Instead of fight and flight, choose approach and soothe.

Non-clinging sadhu tendencies to withdraw from a fragile
planet beckon a Silicon Valley straightforward mortalist, but
I reckon for me it’s not enough to rage in enlightened retirement.


Bully Boychick

Mudita is my favorite word.

In Pali it means, Empathic Joy,
putting yourself into another’s shoes.

English doesn’t have a similar single word.

Instead of exchanging shots to juvenilia nether
regions’ abandoned and traduced unpleasantries

pall mall helter skelter they earn Yiddish keepsakes.

From A Dharma Brother

“Gerry, I heard that your mother passed.
Although she was very old, I suspect
her loss has impacted you deeply.

You have such a love and joy for family,
she must have given you at least a piece
of your good big heart — her legacy

in you, your children, grandkids.
My thoughts are with you now.
Condolences with metta, David.”

Though this buddy’s suspicions
put an undeservedly positive spin
on a lifetime’s relationships with Mom

I hope to take advantage of a friend’s
noble insights plus intentions to hold
more gratitude in memories of her.

May Day Morning Meditation On Right Speech

Bolstered in safety like a baby
Lightly perfumed in kindness
Faith in practice makes me
Show up, gives extra oomph
To the beginning of each day
As I try to reenter our stream
Rafting on those white waters
Which may lead to that path
Toward freedom and peace.
As Suzuki Roshi said about
Meditation In San Francisco
In Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind
In a fog you do not know you
Are getting wet but as you keep
Walking you get wet little by little.

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Gerry Sarnat MD’s won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize; has been nominated for Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards; authored Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014) and Melting The Ice King (2016); and is widely published including by Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Virginia Commonwealth, Wesleyan, Johns Hopkins, Gargoyle, Margie, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, Brooklyn Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, San Francisco Magazine. Mount Analogue selected Kaddish for distribution nationwide Inauguration Day. Poetry was chosen for a 50th Harvard reunion Dylan symposium.


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