Landsmen


During Palo Alto homeless clinic today

—asphalt jungle parking lot 'cross from posh Stanford mall—

big black bizarre ex-con ex-CFL quarterback Gerardo comes over to Woody Allenish me.

"Hey, Doc Gerard, for some reason these dudes don't believe we're brothers."

A stranger just in from Willets shows me a prescription

a med school friend wrote for Valium—then slyly tries to hit me up for ten Vicodin.

"Sorry, but it's my personal rule not to write for any pain meds here.

It seems to work out better for most everybody in the long run."

"Fuck you, asshole, I was told you were different, but you're just as big a schmuck as the rest.

Better watch out or you'll get hurt bad."

Overhearing, covering my back,

Gerardo put a quick end to that,

letting the outsider know it was time for him to start moving on—and quick.

Next, while writing her Allegra prescription for seasonal allergies,

I tell whorishly flaming-redhaired Maria Diana to spell her last name.

"W-E-I-S-M-A-N," she says.  "A Jew?" asks I.

"You're really confused—I'm German, and you kikes spell it W-I-S-E-M-A-N."

Then my schizophrenic buddy Ben bikes over with his latest paranoia.

"Ger, I've looked into it a lot, and finally documented on the Internet

you're lying about our both having attended O'Keefe Grammar School back in Chicago.

Why screw up my mind with your shit?

I'm gonna sic Legal Aid on you if you refuse to cease and desist."

Mona Lisa moves in on me, mustache shaved, cigarette hanging.

"Been good while you're away; them shemale hormones work great!

Would ya start cooking on getting me into reconstructive surgery?"

Young Murphy still looks like a tranny aboriginal samurai,

all duded up with mud packed above beard, hair in a bun, and flowered skirt.

Psychotic to his core, maybe crystal methed,

Murph experiments with silver eye lids, a left hand rainbow mitten, a right tennis shoe,

boogies to our memory lane boombox belting out Leslie Gore's "It's My Party I'll Cry If I Want To."

(Bobby Darin's "Dream Lover" still makes my knees quiver.)

Tall railthin hornrimmed black El Greco, so manic he seems to levitate,

asks if he'll get Asian meningitis as a logistics manager at Mervyns.

My seventy-year-old cocoa butter secret love

swishes by so very elegantly with red and blue lilies and feathers in her straight salt and pepper hair.

Reminding me of Billie Holliday, my beauty,

silent in tight jeans and pink plastic sandalwear, doesn't know I exist as a doctor or admirer.

Adrienne puts out a container

of freshly picked peaches, plums, and melons, plus a new tray of tuna fish salad sandwiches.

The crowd rushes by, knocking Billie to the ground,

while Sid asks as he does every week for a script for two Viagra, all he can afford.

Big Bill, infected edematous legs wrapped in stinking old bandages,

races by as best he can to grab a treat before clinic closes for today.

Alone as usual, sipping a cup of tea with sugar, fastidious Tina slumps reading Braille in her corner.

Expensive duds, shoes and do, slurping a bowl of Ramen, a Dole sticker in the middle of his forehead,

Phil reminds me of a failing Lenny Bruce on the addictive skids,

voices and demons in his head, cutting black riff after riff into the umbrella handle

he holds like a hand mic in a third-class Las Vegas lizard lounge act.

Pretending to talk on the phone, "Mom, you've always been so loyal,

coming down to bail me out in your pajamas, I've finally decided to sign those papers Dad wants . . ."

The case worker pulls me out of my trance in his dark poetry:

Urban Ministry is his legal conservator, doling out cash from his parents,

she a well-known Stanford surgeon, the other a widely published author:

every once in a while, the missus pleads I allow her to insert

a small CDMA transceiver locator device, implanted subcutaneously above her son's pubic bone.

Saintlike Lucille, fetal-alcohol syndrome Native American multiple-medical-problem

piss-drenched, stutters, "W-w-ill you h-h-elp me find my m-m-medicine?"

while crystal-methed Dougie leaches through her purse for money.

She hands me her dirt-caked blue plastic pill container,

and a soaked folded note on Barbie Doll pink stationery

with "Love never fails.  First Corinthians 13:8" printed on the bottom,

and the following in fifth grade hand-lettering,

"Dear Dr.  Sarnet, Ms.  Becerra considers you and we her family.

She must be kareful with her salt and fried foods intakes.

If there is any concern, please call me at 408-662-3762.  Thank u, Kenny and Vera."

An unnamed pseudocop wearing a sloppily sewn "Veritas" patch front of his non-uniform

whispers to clever lovely Rita meter maid, "I'll arrest everyone here.  They'll post bail with you,

we'll hit the track, place our bets, split town with the winnings."

Eavesdropping half-bagged dim Slim Shady's immaculate newly connived dentures babble something

to no one in particular, as he tries to hide his empty J&B bottle; he'll swig anything short of antifreeze.

Getting back to work, Zeke comes over.  Still in Chinos and blue Oxford white collar shirt,

a Cisco manager before the tech bubble layoff and a run of bad luck, now camping in his car,

he asks, "Can I borrow a tractor to lift the four hundred pound wild boar I shot down in San Bernardino?

"Maybe I'll give you some of the meat—real sweet 'cause the pig was hit in a barley field.

Say, Doc, would you like to buy the head to mount in your house?"

The wily public health nurse offers up her own little treats, slipping adult clients

handfuls of red, purple and yellow packs of Strawberry, Grape, and Banana Flavored Lubricated Condoms ®

while saving the unique blue Studded Rough Riders for the horny kids

hoping their added pleasure might seduce 'em into wearing rain coats.

Just then, a multitasking Silicon Valley supermother—smothered in sleek Gortex black,

wheeling her baby, ears plugged into iPod buds, Crackberry in one hand,

the other reining in a Great Dane—jogs by, noticing nothing.

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