Three Olfaction Poems by Gerard Sarnat MD

Can You Imagine What a Battlefield Smells Like?

Helen’s nascent protuberance & morning
sickness mousily besought Uncle to shimmy
through his packed furnace room clutter
to sniff for the clue why she wanted to puke.

Obliging her face that could launch a thousand ships,
I tripped on barbells turning over a discarded radiator
which held sweaty exercise gear + a moldy jock —
until one sock got caught in some mystery muck.

Both light bulbs burned out, my left sock limped
back into the civilization of my wife’s office
while breathless annoyed family pointed fingers
at furry ears & tail stuck to its anointed glue trap.


Splendor in the Grass

Inhaling a familiar fave savory smell on primo restaurant row,
approaching hopped up suburban surfer dudes who giggle and romp
like puppies on Astroturf of our proud town’s shopping mall,
at first I’m certain their energy reflects exogenous chemicals.

It then occurs this physician should casually sit down to explain
real danger for all youngsters that has recently been demonstrated
on functional PET scans as severe shrinkage of the discipline plus
gigantic growth of next door’s pleasure centers perhaps permanently.

Maybe even indulge with them to enhance a cool elder cat’s cred.
But after sniffing around — beyond discarded Red Bull empties —
there’s zilch evidence supporting suspicions they’re vaping dope.
Thus just out view I descend to empty bench, exhale Grapefruit Kush.


Mid-Septuagenarian at Grateful Dead Revival

The recognizable smells of sage, patchouli oil, marijuana, and sweat — this time with a little more camphor and menthol, a few more green Salonpas peeking through garments than in the old days at Berkeley’s Community Theater, Stanford’s Frost, San Francisco’s Warfield and Winterland, San Jose’s Convention Center.

—About the Author—

Gerard Sarnat MD’s authored Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2016). Gerry’s recently published by Gargoyle, Oberlin, Brown, Stanford, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, American Journal Of Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, Brooklyn Review, LA Review, San Francisco Magazine, New York Times.  Mount Analogue selected KADDISH for distribution nationwide Inauguration Day. Work appeared in his Harvard reunion Dylan symposium.