Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Countdown to Surgery / Poem: No no Prednisone

I was so happy to get home this morning after my errands in Hatboro. I did a lot of walking, which as you know, I like to do to strengthen my body.

Took my living room door screen to get fixed at Al Wipplinger's Hardware Store on Main Street. He fixed it the same day, so I'm sitting here on the couch with the breeze coming in and the sounds of the night - crickets!

Look carefully and you'll see this reconditioned lawn mower at Village Hardware. When I was a kid growing up in Cleveland, I'd ride my bike over to Uncle Marvin's and Aunt Selma's and mow the grass.

It felt so good to use all my strength and muscle power. Then I'd sit on the porch steps and read.

After I left the hardware store I met Kullie from my Book Discussion Group. She loved the current selection by A.S. Byatt (sister of Margaret Drabble) while I couldn't stand it.

But, I told Kullie, I'm reading Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, and it's fantastic. Coincidentally, it's all about performing surgery.

She knew all about it and told me about the amazing life of the author. I still haven't figgered out what the title means even tho it's from a quote by Hippocrates, the "Do no harm" father of medicine.

Since I was in Hatboro, I stopped in to see Mark Amos, owner of Bux-Mont Stationers. He was back from his honeymoon in Vegas and looked happier than I'd ever seen him. I told him we'd be doing another Compass magazine this year.

For the first time, I'm not dreading it, but actually looking forward to some of the articles in the "storyboard" I've planned.

I wanted to express my feelings about the drug Prednisone and what better way than to write a poem about it.

What a challenge, but I set my mind to it.

Did a lot of online research.

I worked on it even tho I didn't feel like doing so, but I'm so very busy now.

Scott and I watched The Naked City, the movie made about the TV series from the 50s. Absolutely fantastic, true film noir.

Tonite I'll watch the documentary Metallica: Some kind of Monster, 2004. Oh, I can't wait! Metallica will play in the operating room theatre while I sleep and dream of walking around the block. Or dancing in my living room.

Then I read the poem to my friend Johannes Brahms Ponsen. The "Brahms" is my nickname for him. Johannes is American but was born in Amsterdam. Is that right, Johannes?

He's one of the very few people I know - and this is pretty sad - who knows Brahms' music.

I first became aware of Brahms when I was a teenager and saw the movie The L-Shaped Room w/ Leslie Caron (now 80) at the Heights Art Theatre in Cleveland. Here's a clip from YouTube. Brahms' First Piano Concerto in lugubrious D Minor comes in at around the third minute.

Just say D Minor and you'll begin to weep.

Second bowl of cashews coming right up. Excuse me while I hobble into the kitchen.

For dessert tonite, I went to the bin aisle at the Giant Supermarket. Everything looked so delicious....and then I saw the bin of mini-York Peppermint Patties.

That's it, I said. Look no further.

The cost was all of FOUR CENTS pour deux.

I ate them - too quickly - while answering my emails.


In memory of its inventor
Arthur Nobile (1920 to 2004)

I contemplate your lined face
in the obit in the Times
your wife predeceased you
o Jersey boy with a brain that
couldn’t keep still even
when curled up in bed with the woman you loved
the sound of her breath growing
dim at the end
your inventions could not save her
though you heard that breath years after
you buried her

was it the suffering you witnessed as a child?
even in your own sturdy house with porch
suffering, the mortal lot of humans,
was it foretold or was it an accident you
turned your eye to the microscope
van Leeuwenhoek on this side of the Atlantic?

You hated seeing people suffer
your drawn humanitarian face teaches us that
yet your great medical discovery
an unpretentious white pill called
bested the sick
scattering autoimmune diseases like
loop the Lupus,
joint ugularities of Arthritis
the watery shits of Ileitis
it quelled swellings from brain cancer like Dad’s
became antirejection meds for transplants like my
new kidney dwelling in its pouch
in my belly

Yet, while swaddling its grateful supplicants
who can’t live without our Pred
Arthur, how could you?
we also float with
corpulence, mood swings,
rage, pie faces, cognitive impairment
and the queer thing or two that grows along
our newly barnacled skin

Have I mentioned the
tarry stools
barfs that look like pebbles
but perhaps i quibble overly much?

Watery eyes under the microscope, a regular
van Leeuwenhoek from Jersey
how could two men so different spend
their lives in the Lilliputian world of
the invisible
who would believe the marvelous things
they saw!

O better than morphine
these little flurrying worlds –
did the critters make music in their
amniotic sacs of the sea
To be there!
to shed one’s clothes
and dive in!

O, Arturo, I was 58 when life kicked you out
spun you somewhere in the vast unknown
and I am stuck with my one Prednisone in the morning
to prevent rejection
but have plans
deviant plans to chuck your drug
not all transplant centers use it now

Someday I shall take the liberty
leap as you did with your lifesaving inventions
but carefully
the coming of autumn at Lake Galena
when the green leaves turn to gold
I shall go there and launch my canoe
paddle onward
healthier than ever
watching the silent white swans grab for
fish clean
as life goes on without you, Arthur,
and without


  1. I do like this better and better, the more I read it and again, repeat that only you (unique, special, terrific you) would think of this topic for a poem. I still am not so sure that most people will get the van Leeuwenhoek reference but I might be wrong and after re-reading three times, not so sure it matters if they do or don't. If they do, they have a little extra understanding but if not, there is plenty to get from the poem, many really fine lines and meaning.

    Yum for York Peppermint patties. I get them once in a while, my little reward for myself (I need a reward today!!) but I like to freeze them first if I have enough self-control not to eat right away.

    Really, people don't know Brahms????

    Yes, strengthening the body and off to do that myself. I keep reading parts of your New Directions site and finding things I had not read before and I marvel and you/us and how we have grown, all that we have endured and experenced since we met at age 18!!!


  2. even tho i have diabetes, i factor in my 'treats' and the blood sugar remains under control. the prednisone increase for my gout - NO NO Prednisone - made it go outa control.

    you're the only friend i have from goddard othan jonathan katz. i know you're in sporadic contact w/a few others.

    in fact, they just sent me a donation form. mean-spirited that i am, i stuck a $20 bill in their envelope w/no name attached to it.

    i do feel a loyalty to them after only spending three summers there, one of the greatest experiences of my life!