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Son and Daughters of Abraham

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Hush Hush Culture Clash: Razor’s Edge Salvation?

Diving deep into rasty Tigris-eyed Euphrates waters

nasty Salsa dancing through parched San Francisco,

my baby is hooked on sharp Arabic good looks

plus his exotic nomadic Mizrahi¹ Jew genes

pool that she (and I) assumed could temper

generations of cheaper by the dozen

dull pointy-headed Ashkenazi²

shtetl³-bred lefty atheists…

Turns out until mandatory Israeli

Defense Force service the yeshiva

bocher⁴ had absolutely no real

world education. When the kids met

he had never heard of evolution, You

really believe we come from monkeys?

However, bright and open-minded, he became

the only person he knew to begin attending college…

Visiting our youngest/ sister, also studying in

Tel Aviv, the nuclear family stays for short spells

outside Jerusalem with soon-to-be machetenista

in some Orthodox West Bank desert settlement.

We try not to talk religion/ politics so everything

is copacetic — especially since not one of us speaks

Hebrew and aside from my almost son-in-law who’s

fluent, just a few of them know any words in English…

All of my fam now back in Northern Cali, well-intended

Iraqis descend for a month to celebrate their oldest boy’s

first child — his imah⁶ arrives early to be inside

the delivery room then supervise Daughter-In-Law’s

breast-feeding then cook brisket for after the bris

as her sweet dear hubby, hiding under his tallis,⁸

builds by hand the ritual cabinet for the mohel

while avoiding women’s work ‘n diaper turf…

8 days post birth, a by-the-book ceremony takes place in the same

home where my boy’s got done forty years ago during the height of

hippiedom dissing tradition.  Instead of conventional kippas to cover

our heads, many wore toy fireman helmets or turbans and toked which

passive smoke may’ve eased his pain. Against Buddhist photo backdrops,

hosting an expanded clan calmly as I can bear forebears’ wound of passage,

I am convinced cutting contributes to Jewish male neuroses. The next morning

13 of us huddle up to debate how to remove the newborn’s single 2×2 gauze pad.



1. Middle East Jewish origin

2. Central and Eastern Europe Jewish origin

3. Poor Eastern European primarily Jewish market town

4. Jewish religious school student

5. In-laws in Yiddish

6. Mother in Hebrew

7. Jewish circumcision

8. Jewish prayer shawl 

9. Person authorized to perform the bris


Pidyon Haben

“Every firstborn of man among your sons, you shall redeem.”

— Exodus 13:13–16


Redemption’s a primitive mitzvah commanded in

the Old Testament to occur on my grandkid’s 30th day

when a Kohen from the priestly patrilineal tree of

Aaron is handed 5 silver shekels by the boy’s father.

While our alternating amused and distraught daughter

nurses off in a dark corner, ultra-orthodox little girls

clothed from head to toe wrap garlic + sugar cubes

in gold lamé lace bags that their subjugated mother

hangs for kenahorah-poo-poo-poo knock on wood

good luck to shoo away devils — after which she checks

that the fancy sheitel covers her wifely shaved skull.

Compared to the newborn’ bris with the mohel

hacking off the newborn’s foreskin, this ain’t nothin’.

But having successfully bit my tongue, all said & done

till the next one, these rituals reinforce why I’m an atheist.


This Happens To Be On Offer Today


Prince/sses transit underworld

— drag queen Persephone’s sons of bitches

butch it up — whether in what seems

like Hades on earth in U.S. emergency rooms

or divorce courts, maybe more

serious civil war venues like Rakka Syria,

& perhaps South Africa’s drought

worst in over a century where fly-ridden

bloated malnourished red-haired

infants can’t get good suck from mothers’

               pencil thin breasts  

                 while sanctuary

cities such as East Oakland rush

to signup then host elegant self-contained

11 year-old black belt prodigies

who play ouds tonight in Humanist Hall

halfway through their Axl Rose

tour which will end in a Japanese village

during cherry blossom harvest time

as they are accompanied on pear-shaped

banjos by now elderly zen avatars

somehow seppuku survivors handing

down rich multi-millennial rituals.

About the Author: Gerard Sarnat

Gerard Sarnat won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, has been nominated for Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards, and authored four collections: HOMELESS CHRONICLES (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014) and Melting The Ice King (2016) which included work published beyond medical in academic journals such as Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Virginia Commonwealth, Wesleyan, Johns Hopkins and in Gargoyle, American Journal of Poetry (Margie), Main Street Rag, MiPOesias, New Delta Review, Brooklyn Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, San Francisco Magazine, Voices Israel, Muse-Pie Press, Blue Mountain Review, Danse Macabre, Canary Eco, Military Experience and the Arts, Tishman Review, Suisun Valley Review, Fiction Southeast, Junto, Lowestoft, Burning House, Tiger Moth, Heartwood, Tiferet, Flash and Cinder, Foliate Oak, Parhelion, Bonsai plus featured in New Verse News, Eretz, Avocet, LEVELER, tNY, StepAway, Bywords, Floor Plan, Good-Man-Project, Anti-Heroin-Chic, Poetry Circle, Fiction Southeast, Walt Whitman Tribute Anthology and Tipton Review. “Amber of Memory” was the single poem chosen for my 50th college reunion symposium on Bob Dylan. Mount Analogue selected Sarnat’s sequence, KADDISH FOR THE COUNTRY, for pamphlet distribution on Inauguration Day 2017 as part of the Washington DC and nationwide Women’s Marches. Harvard/Stanford educated, Gerry’s worked in jails, built/staffed clinics for the marginalized, been a CEO and Stanford Med professor. Married for a half century, Gerry has three kids/ four grandkids so far.

For more info visit his website at gerardsarnat.com

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