By Gerard Sarnat

“You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, who is that man?
You try so hard
But you don’t understand
Just what you’ll say
When you get home
Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?”

During the 80s, working at a down and out clinic,
I took care of Sonny plus a few other
Jonestown Guyana Kool-Aid survivors
after they returned to Peoples Temple in Oakland.
Particularly on hot humid sultry summer evenings
which reminded them of recent pasts,
they’d sometimes go berserk grieving
for corpses left behind in 1978 to rot in the jungle.
Sonny was the P.T.S.D. success story poster boy —
brilliant young student with penchant
for chemistry—until our troubled teen
copycat, in order to save face for a loving granny
pretending he had simply meant to ingest his usual
school recess sugar cube, instead took
a packet of cyanide from pants pocket,
self-inflected immediate death like got Mom/Pops.
Sonny’s comatose breath reeked that same telltale
almond stench—despite drilling burr
holes to let out built-up pressure, brain
spattered on a few doctors, nurses, up to the ceiling.
Three decades later, I can’t seem to forget that horror
or to rid myself of such incapacitating,
megalomaniac fatherfiguresaviorkiller
BigDaddyJimmyJones RommelGoeringHitler stink.

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