FUNK X FOUR by Gerard Sarnat

RIP Dr. John the Night Tripper (November 20, 1941 – June 6, 2019)

1. 2018 they joshed about our 1%er funky kitchen

Ette tucked down in original utility room with built-in now-defunct sauna & shower stall; I
Et there post microwaved gruel during which machine-washed dried didn’t fold exercise clothes
Etc….

given we’ve largely abandoned upstairs’ posh, fully-equipped/ stocked modern facilities
for ground floor’s sinkless ex-laundry area that accommodates beery guys’ meet-ups + also holds
my exercycle well as 5 dry breakfast cereals & Mr. Coffee on an infants’ finger-painting table

under which I stash pricey unseasonable honeydew + cantaloupe in reusable Trader Joe’s
insulated zippered blue tote bags so rats can’t get at ‘em like when left naked underneath
on 1969 linoleum where trash can rind drippings ooze toward an unhinged rusted drain cover —

btw did I say this place once served as newborn nursery, still has baby dinosaur wallpaper?
— gosh, scene finally got attention of financial advisors who asked each & every grand/kid
perhaps Dad’s gone certified nuts off the rails crazy or at least become very Pynchon

Sick, but while waiting maybe consensus turning the page into 2019
Sic family office staff on us (wife co-dependent with
Siccle [sic] anemia Macintosh spellcheck always got wrong) ) oy to see if publicists can kibosh +

estate lawyers quash rumors their good ol’ boy tiny client stole toy cooking utensils from next door’s play space, torqued ‘em flush to a minifridge/freezer containing mainly novelty nosh items + extensive paper/plastic products/ bags to lug dirty real china-silver to dishwasher above

alongside silicone-gasket sealed transparent canisters after droppings found in Cream of Wheat on open-air ply shelves across from 72 years’ tchotchkes/ broke luggage with rodent contraptions serviced by a one-armed rat catcher + decomposing pigeons beneath makeshift Cabinets of Heed.

I got pretty comfy with such until during rainy season various armies of ants gradually
took everything dry over including wet garbage can I had to put outside to freeze ‘em
to death– but drawn to the smell of their dead, they then returned with a vengeance.

2. Saucy Memorial Day Without BBQ

Killing time Wednesday until oracular
yet dishy Robert Mueller speaks publicly
at 11AM EST about his 10-month Russia

probe report, although by no means what
you’d call a foodie, still it is exceedingly
rare but happens now ‘n then — let us

not get into all of Monday’s hoary holiday details – later we coyly dined on halfway
nuked frozen Trader Joe’s turkey balls

plus cartridges of steel-cut oatmeal
with brown sugar or maple syrup,
accompanied by a flimsy paper plate

side dish of two slices whole wheat
bread seen better days with butter
slabs zapped on for sixty seconds.

This took place to droning engine sounds
of winning Frenchman from annual Indy 500 Speedway classic TV replay in the background.

However absurd that might appear here,
way underserving a more deserving wife,
we must offer extenuating circumstances

which almost made our scene passable:
Monsieur Gerard put on this production
posing as a Michelin star Parisian chef

with Oui Madames generously sprinkled by
his pop-eyed palms-up pencil-mustachioed
waitperson wearing rumpled dirty

dishtowels in various states of disrepair,
faux apron tucked into short-shorts jammies,
another charmingly folded over arm as he

coquettishly whispers flirtations into her ear
regards spéciale desserts Chez Sarnatzky
will prepare even if very short-staffed…

Le désastre having to use union
workers whose collective bargaining
grants them holiday Mondays off!”

Then I zoom from bedroom across
downstairs hall toward laundry area
quasi-converted into funky kitchenette

(just one of those concessions to being
mid-septuagenarian trying to minimize
trips up 14 stairs to really nice scullery)

where 8 roundish chunks of fowl meat
are not quite warm in small underpowered
microwave. Nevertheless, spouse shouts

something about, “Sooo ravenous!”
thus that’s that. I also load Momma’s
rococo silver tray liberated from her condo

[mama mia may she rest in peace before
my baby sister could fly there to claim whatever looked good] with passel too old mixed berries

only few days ago were okay from tiny barren ‘frig, …I know, I know shoulda gone/go to local market — hey ne pas much need for another sob

story, hell je turns 74 end of summer and such shit happens — just ask Trump’s predecessor Nixon about getting grilled 45 years ago.

3. Pacific Pisces Story

Week after Labor Day,
striding along ocean to
Redondo Beach Pier,
I’ll turn 73 tomorrow
so treat myself extra
special well, spring for
September’s Lobster
FEST bisque + ceviche
& Hawaiian Opakapaka
we once saw SCUBA
diving though that snapper
was truly humungous.

The pleasant man who ?up
sold me to pay $19.99/ lb.
is a member of our local
fishmonger cooperative
which never laid anyone
off during 2008’s Great
Recession tourist crisis.

Angel assuaged Ger’s guilt
shelling out so much dough
at this generally reasonable
open-air seafood market
by relating how he bought
(50% employee discount)
the same whole fresh fish
just shipped in yesterday
then descaled gutted broiled
precisely like h had prepared
mine to impress almost-fiancé
with fabuloso to the max result
thusly my mate would similarly
not be little bittiest disappointed
even though she’d sent me for
cheaper scrumptious snapper.

40 minutes $83.41 pre-tip later,
while I finish scribbling this
missive’s half-baked scrod
screed’s narrow paragraph
columns on 3 paper napkins
with ballpoint I eyed Angel
tossed in since not too smart
phone’d run outa charge just
after shooting pics to reassure
half-century wife but before I
jot words, the toast-shaped LRS’s
lights/buzzer went bonkers berserk
signaling griddle’s funky reeking
goodies bag (4 corn on cob, bunch
butter pads/ sliced lemon, enough
plastic utensils/Styrofoam to serve
downscale dinner party thrown in)
is ready to return to waterfront
condo where I anticipate being
heatedly grilled by fishy spouse.

4. Whereby Sarnat The Ghetto Gnat Flicked His Urban Prairie Silo

I was a ruffian whose cooties lugeed and whizzed
trudging O’Keeffe Grammar’s sludge which looked just like a funky Slushy.

Mined sleetballs with gravel ripped off salt trucks
to bilk protection gelt from flitty Iowa-nice
Cornhusker booger-eaters whose crotches slipslid like on rollerskates
when ambushed and swatted in Snowmageddon death match cakewalks.

Witnessed Davey roust his evomitocious
father from local bowling alley barstools before bouncers tossed the tomcat.

Stashed contraband Marilyn calendars
Teddy presented to this rookie for manning his corner bookie newsstand
deep inside a 5 finger discount Walgreen’s bookbag.
Lugged it four flights to the fam’s cold water flat
past Mr. Hatfield’s ground floor guard station
where the landlord’s master of the manor,
king of the castle, super of fu fa tenement dead-ender domains.

Mother revered the principal/ home ec substitute, Mrs. Leech,
whose sociology noodged me to be hall/ eraser monitor
since her tent dress became the tenant/ hoarder
under us whose touched-up skin sipped vodka/ vermouth
if her foul-mouthed hubby, the janitor/ woodshop teacher,
hit the grain whiskey to keep Bergen-Belsen tattoo demons at bay.

Brown paper bag clutched, flowering it up with earflaps down,
Stanley Hatfield sat on the stoop, jiggled skeleton keys dawn to dusk,
bamboozled folks he didn’t cotton to shell out rent moolah or get the boot.
Shakedowns so’s each unit’s paid-up on the barrelhead plus a smidge extra.
Purged those whose number came up empty first of each month period.

As funny money thin ice softened ‘n liquified, dirty coppers
in Stan’s pocket’d take a taste then paper the halls with eviction notices
before sofas ‘n worse kerplunked
onto the sidewalk. Foot soldiers hoodlumed
loveable rogue scofflaws to believe we’d be put on dry ice, cemented
into Lake Michigan — which loose-bowelled bunco spiel hardened
into shticks I ear-witnessed below the shudder of elevated Illinois Central trains.

Nights I’d schlep down, con Stanley Sr.’s marbled daughter
whose vagarious weight you might guess at a country fair cattle call
to out-naked us all on the fire-escape
or loudmouth fat Stan Jr. to roll-up the steel shutters,
open the front door for my big brother
whom Miss Joy’s Mary Janes tensely resented.

Not born till post hari-kari, the bomb and the Emperor surrendered,
I remember what turned out to be ration books
buried in Pops’ condom sock drawer.
At the time my nuclear family of origin was shoehorned
in Bubbe and Zeyde’s one room apartment.
Mom and Grandma always on bad terms, rapscallion
needed to be careful. Eventually Grandpa weaseled, told Dad to leave.

But Pops had mafia contacts
who bribed the Hatfield missus some kind of yenta
to let him have our current place for two tanks of fossilized TRexs
plus a week’s food coupons plus some unspecified “other favors”
in her not-Rembrandt Netherlands —
that’s just how Chi-town was during the final stages of winning the war.

Lucky GIs back from the front were overdomesticated
by cutesies’ baser instincts to make too many babies.

Ravenous Heebs scrambled to bootstrap beyond South Shore ghettocide,
but no matter where we flocked, newly minted parochial school thugs
pummeled up in my business
unless I surrendered the cornucopia
of Medimore’s penny candy, pocket change, crumpled Monroe nudies,
a flask of rotgut swiped from Hatfield.

 

——

Gerard Sarnat has won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize and been nominated for Pushcarts. Gerry’s authored four collections: HOMELESS CHRONICLES from Abraham to Burning Man (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014) and Melting The Ice King (2016) which included work published in magazines and anthologies including Gargoyle, American Journal of Poetry (Margie), Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, OCHO, Brooklyn Review, Lowestoft, Tishman Review plus was featured in New Verse News, Edify, Poetica, Songs of Eretz, Avocet, LEVELER, tNY, StepAway, Bywords and Floor Plan. Among other publications, Deronda Review, San Francisco Magazine, Radius, Foliate Oak, Dark Run, Scarlet Leaf, Good Men Project, Veterans Writing Project, Anti-Heroin Chic, Aois, Poetry Circle, Tipton Review, Creative Truth, Harbor Village, Indian Ruminations, KYSO, Flagler Review, Poets and War, and Ordinary Madness’ debuted feature sets of new poems. Mount Analogue selected Sarnat’s sequence, KADDISH FOR THE COUNTRY, for distribution as a pamphlet in Seattle on Inauguration Day 2017 as well as the next morning as part of the Washington DC and nationwide Women’s Marches. In May “Amber Of Memory” was the single poem chosen for Gerry’s 50th college reunion symposium on Bob Dylan; the Harvard Advocate accepted a second plus Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Johns Hopkins accepted concurrent pieces. In August Failed Haiku presented his work first among over a hundred contributors. In January 2018, among other acceptances, six Sarnat poems were featured in True Living Documented Relentlessly [TL;DR], his work was front page in International Journal Of Modern Poetry, and pieces were accepted by Australian, Israeli, Canadian and Indian publications. In February, two Dadaist publications accepted some of Gerry’s new-styled work: Maintenant, plus a ten-poem sequence is being featured in Outsider Poetry. The UK’s Ink Pantry accepted a spread and will interview Sarnat for a featured run. Beautiful Loser’s main spread was Sarnat’s poetry accompanied by an interview. The Editor’s Note for Rumblefish’s Winter 2018 issue describes Sarnat as “previous reader-favorite.” A set was featured in March’s Surreal Mannequin Haus. The UK’s Winamop will repeat-feature a sequence of Gerry’s work this summer – this time incorporating photos as well as newer concrete poetry. Ditto Ginosko. For Huffington Post/other reviews, readings, publications, interviews; visit GerardSarnat.com. Harvard/Stanford educated, Gerry’s worked in jails, built/staffed clinics for the marginalized, been a CEO of healthcare organizations and Stanford Medical School professor. Married since 1969, he has three children, four grandkids.