Leaping beyond COVID. More than 5 poems by Gerard Sarnat

1. Awakening haiku [3]

lurks in most every crisis
if you take a look.

can be reimagined as
Karuṇā* virus —

a time to extend
our kindness and caring to
each of us, ourselves.

* compassion in Sanskrit and Pali

2. Zoom Retreat

“…see me comin’ you better run…”
— Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited

3 months into
different species
residential retreat,
now our individual
homes hold the space.

Grace of not having to
wear masks, 137 of us
maintain silence alone
as well as then together
— so expansive [no waiting

lists] thus’ll be retained even
when shelter-in-place is over:
small groups beamed up & back
to larger mothership, this doctor
feels lots like Bones on Star Trek.


i. Awake

This world is awake
except for the dead.

As a Jewbu I used
to think being awake

meant liberated but
now instead awake

feels more like awake
to hunted by dark virus.

i i.  Asleep

No longer appears our
sometime sleepy species

is sleepwalking through
daily lives although many

of us stressed have hard
times stay/falling to sleep.

One-year-old grandkid’d
slept well until recently.

iii. Dreams

Assaultive old dreams
of misplaced patients

returning anew for me,
wife’s been dreaming

her babies are dying
as grandchild dreamt

whimpering dream, I hate to Facetime.

iv. Oddly Comforted

Two of six grandsons
seemed pre-adapted to

vagaries of current life
since they were already

introverted, preferring
to stay at home with

parents rather than go
to school or playdates.

4. The Results Are In

Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil/ Phyllis
still could not find his/ her shadow.
Seasons arrive before we know it.
Now’s next year before got used to last.
This getting older is an experience
I have never had before.
Waking up tomorrow morning
probably will feel like yesterday.
So as in Groundhog Day,
let’s decide to make today better.
What makes life worth living?
What matters to me?
How do you want to animate
precious remaining seconds, minutes?
What makes sense, what is possible,
what can all of us devote selves to?
Love and compassion, free expressions
of inherent goodness, do feel wonderful.
But to be honest, during rough times
our intentions are not always noble.
Among myriad habitual perceptions,
my heart becomes clogged by Not Enoughs.

5. Mediatrician* Meditation

Family time ’s something many have wished we could increase –and now it is steady-state.

With all of us suddenly at home together most of the day, faced with new challenges, let’s try to help our grand/ children navigate these uncertain months.

Best way to talk about COVID-19?

How support social/emotional growth/connectivity in an age of societal-distancing?
How to manage kids’ screen time?

Large part bottom-line answers, then what happens seems to me obvious to be primarily up to their grand/parents.

* “Expert ” who “studies” youngsters’ media use and positive or negative implications for health plus development.

Bonus: Silverlining Theory Lovingkindness Opportunity

Saturday morning s
like 5 AM

I drive to Ems’
to babysit

while daughter
plus her husband

About 9:15
I pop

in their bed,
head to

meditation center hall

where rearmost floor
zafus and
folding chairs

left unoccupied
are near front

which is labelled,
Go Around

so as NOT to
sangha sitters.

But inevitably
inattentive others arriving

either don’t
or don’t care

trafficking various clunky
shoe-removing, etc.

Which pisses
me off bigtime

now that I
hearing aids

to understand
subsequent dharma talks.

golden opportunity
knocks to transform

near-enemy cold rage
into eyes-closed


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., Universities of Chicago/ Maine/ San Francisco/Toronto, Stanford, Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Pomona, Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan, Penn, Dartmouth, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Baltimore) plus national (e.g., Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, MiPOesias, American Journal Of Poetry, Parhelion, Clementine, pamplemousse, Red Wheelbarrow, Deluge, Poetry Quarterly, poetica, Tipton Journal, Hypnopomp, Free State Review, Poetry Circle, Buddhist Poetry Review, Poets And War, Thank You For Your Service Anthology, Wordpeace, Cliterature, Qommunicate, Indolent Books, Snapdragon, Pandemonium Press, Boston Literary Magazine, Montana Mou thful, Arkansas Review, Texas Review, San Antonio Review, Brooklyn Review, pacificREVIEW, San Francisco Magazine, The Los Angeles Review, Fiction Southeast and The New York Times) and international publications (e.g., Review Berlin, Voices Israel, Foreign Lit, New Ulster, Transnational, Southbank, Wellington Street Review). He’s authored the collections Homeless Chronicles: From Abraham to Burning Man (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 climate change justice. Gerry’s been married since 1969 with three kids plus six grandsons and is looking forward to future granddaughters. Website here.


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