Busman’s Holiday?

Gerard Sarnat

Every once in a while

while we walk around

the block which houses

one daughter’s fave sushi

place until boy’s miso soup

plus two cucumber rolls arrive


toddler grandson becomes a bit

indoctrinated into what’d before

he was born been ur-central to life

befriending well as offering medical

care to local strip mall’s folks without

homes right there where some pitch tents.


Now don’t get any impression that Coachie

as all six grandchildren call me is promiscuous

in such adventures because if I were and trouble

ensued, Gerry could lose his rights to free-range

it since our wary kids might more’n wince – they or

their spouses’d restrict many of Ger’s roaming rights.


In any case today I take a chance to engage an old man

waiting at a red traffic light to cross the big intersection

at El Camino Real/ Whipple boulevards in Redwood City.

Almost toothless, metal cane in right hand, tattered backpack

up against double Jesus-length hair; his smile is full-on twinkle.

Holding Liav’s fingers tight, I ask dude, How goes on mean streets?


Pronto he seems to grok I am not afraid perhaps even benignly engaged

so responds, Hey, Man, after 78 years alive often trying to scrape though

Chicago winters, maybe Phoenix summers, here in Northern California’s okay.

When I press about, Whether all is good in good weather, if you’ve health issues

or drug or mental problems?; James sighs then replies, Ain’t too bad since cannabis

declared legal. Instead of mum, I enjoin, Yessir, nearly 74 myself, THC can be a tonic.


Conveniently cell texts from inside the restaurant give several excuses to begin to leave.

When I suggest, If you hang for about a half-hour I’ll bring out a bunch of leftover food,

he declines though pauses in a familiar style ‘til I slip him tons of loose change otherwise

would be used for municipal bus trips with progeny. As we start to wave a series of 3-way 

vigorous good-byes to each other, the signal turning green, Liavy continues to say Bye-bye

but won’t move for several minutes until James makes it clear to the other side, disappears.

Gerard Sarnat has been nominated for the pending 2022 Science Fiction Poetry Association Dwarf Star Award, won San Francisco Poetry’s 2020 Contest, the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, and has been nominated for handfuls of 2021 and previous Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry is widely published including in 2022 Awakenings Review, 2022 Arts & Cultural Council of Bucks County Celebration, 2022 Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival Anthology, HitchLit Review, Lowestoft, Washington Square/NYU Review, The Deronda Review, Jewish Writing Project, Hong Kong Review, Tokyo Poetry Journal, Buddhist Poetry Review, Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, Arkansas 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 Slippery Rock, Northwestern, Pomona, Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth, Penn, Columbia, North Dakota, McMaster, Maine, University of British Columbia and University of Chicago presses. He is a Harvard College and Medical School-trained 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 justice, and serves on Climate Action Now’s board. Gerry’s been married since 1969 with progeny consisting of four collections (Homeless Chronicles: From Abraham To Burning Man, Disputes, 17s, Melting the Ice King) plus three kids/ six grandsons — and is looking forward to potential future granddaughters