Barreling Over Can-Do Rooms’ Thresholds

By Gerard Sarnat

i. I dwell in an empty chair fantasy behind a barren desktop

except for vacant page after page on which nothing is unwritten.

After a good night kiss on my cot, I’d wish Father might leave the door 

cracked just a sliver to let the hall’s light in which Mommy never does. 

What goes on in rooms down the hall when her housedress leaves me in the dark?


ii.  When I am in bed memorizing batting averages, Mom pretends

to sleep while really peeping through the neighbors’ keyhole where Pops pretends

to play cards with the man of the house as a painted lady pretends

to take down her face though actually she waits for Daddy who pretends

to need to pee. I clean my mitt with neat’s foot oil, fondle, pretend.


iii. Chi-chi Chicago club, partaking at Tony the Termite’s table,

well-oiled platinum molls slip sawbucks into their purses, pull out

compacts to refix Revlon while we’z bedroom baritones’ zip zoot suits

and guns. Cement doily grin, T. schmoozed the dolls, “Sugars, take a powder

To us, “If youz goes for my dames — you gotta zap me or scram. Capisce?


Gerard Sarnat is the author of two critically acclaimed poetry collections, 2010’s Homeless Chronicles from Abraham to Burning Man and 2012’s Disputes. He has been published or is forthcoming in over 85 journals and anthologies.  Harvard and Stanford educated, Gerry’s been a physician who’s set up and staffed clinics for the disenfranchised, a CEO of healthcare organizations, and a Stanford professor. For “The Huffington Post” review of his work and more, visit GerardSarnat.com. “Can Do” and “Cringeworthy” may appear in his third collection, 17s, in which each poem, stanza or line has 17 syllables.