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writer Gerard Sarnat.
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 over eighty journals and anthologies. Harvard and Stanford educated, Gerry’s been a physician who set up and staffed clinics for the disenfranchised, a CEO of health care organizations, and a Stanford professor. For The Huffington Post review of his work and more, visit his website. “Sniffing Jacaranda Again” may appear in his third collection, "17s," in which each poem, stanza, or line has seventeen syllables.
Read this short gem of a poem by Sarnat:
Sniffing Jacaranda Again
As a kid I loved Papa and Ma stunk, or sometimes the opposite.
But my palate’s now sloughed to another hue.
Back in town the first time
since high school, strapping you in that same old sedan you taught me to drive,
the one I used to make-out pre-bucket seats,
chest brushed, I touch Mommy.
Co-editor Stacia M. Fleegal on “Sniffing Jacaranda Again”: Why aren’t there more short poems? Because, I imagine, they are so hard to write. This poem by Gerald Sarnat is absolutely packed with meaning, if not words. We begin with smell, and a memory, and end with “another hue,” another dimension of a changed relationship. What I get from the speaker “strapping you in that same old sedan you taught me to drive” is that an adult son is taking care of a mobility-challenged father. The detail about making out in the same car as a teenager adds an element of sexuality that leads the speaker to the awkward thought of his father doing the same, and the speaker realizes he is “touch[ing] Mommy” through caring for his father. And there I took more time to talk about the poem than the poem takes to tell us all of that. Remarkable.