Call Me Orpheus. Gettin’ ready for my ferry shuttle across Styx River…WOKE!


Not to be alarmed, dear Reader, I haven’t been diagnosed with any conditions that might preview my  shuffle off this mortal coil sooner rather than later. But…c’mon…it’s imminent, and when I remind myself of this inevitability with each morning awakening, then I truly am, to use an oft-tossed word these days…WOKE!

To ease my survivors, notably familial, through mundanities such as inheritance, bills, financial doings, my wife and I have taken steps: will-check; dual access to bank accounts-covered.  I’ve hidden clues around the house to be discovered after my corporeal vessel  has been disposed. Consider it a scavenger hunt in the truest sense, Sharon. And my shell of dead flesh-harvested. My intention is to donate functioning organs and then some medical school can have the leftovers.,

Here’s the fun part…getting ready for the mythical ferry, piloted by Charon, the ultimate UberLyft to the next __ ? __. Now this ferryman to Hades has been storied as a morose, grisly fellow who expects compensation for his shuttle service, the reward found as a coin in the mouth of the fare. But by giving up my body for the use of students in medical training, won’t I be cheating the pilot of his payment?


I have time to work on this conundrum; stay with me, Charon, we good.

So, in my preparation toward death, I live more intentionally. I constantly remind myself that nothing is without a cost, an effort, but paradoxically, gifts fall on us daily. For these presents, I am PRESENT. Grateful. I’ve experienced the truth that in celebrating with gratitude, solutions present themselves readily after problems are assessed.

Now let’s focus on my preparation toward living, going forth in a serviceable body with a clear and nimble mind.

My young son Gabe gifted his parents, this past week for Hanukah, sessions of strength & performance coaching at a gym downtown. Of course I appreciate gifts from family, and Gabe is generous. Long ago I learned the importance of graciousness in receiving gifts, even items not necessarily desired, like a necktie, or soap-on-a-rope, so I humored my son. However, I had no intention to travel out of the home to work out.

Today I accompanied him to said gym and met the coach for my initial assessment.

I need work.

To date, my daily regimen has included morning stretches immediately upon waking, followed by intentional breathing as I stretch some more and then I hold balance positions, and on some days mix in free weights for range of motion. Today I learned it’s not for naught, but…it ain’t enough.

Speaking of balance, Gabe wants the balance of my life to be as comfortable as I can make it. Son Nathan and his wife provided us our grandson in July, thus I’ve extended my intended living another decade, formerly set at 80, now revised to 90 good years so I can see Frank James into manhood.

Beginning this afternoon, having met my new coach, I’m on my way towards a more durable physical plant, complete with goals and accountability.

Remember Charon? Well, I can sing a song for my passage…perhaps Foghat’s Slow Ride. I can substitute my mandolin for the Orphean lyre and pick my way through Hangman’s Reel. I could recite a poem, maybe a haiku…

upon my bodily

demise, allow my soul free

when this vessel dies

another charon



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Leaving the theater after experiencing Nassim Soleimanpour’s WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT.


I attended a performance Saturday night, WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT.

Perhaps it was a presentation. Or lecture? Some might have called it a play, but I consider that the drama was minimal.

A single person, one of Columbus theatre renown, appeared before an audience of 61 seated in a gallery in Franklinton, the Vanderelli Room.

On December 8, this reader was Artie Isaac. As directed by the playwright, Nassim Soleimanpour, Mr. Isaac had no prior knowledge of the script and no stage directions until upon introduction opened the sealed envelope from the minimal set and began reading.

Central Ohio theater-goers can thank Available Light Theatre for this production, penned in 2010 from the artist’s home in Tehran, Iran and first presented in 2011. Local actors who have provided one-time presentations as “intermediaries,”according to Nassim, include Adam Humphrey, Acacia Duncan, Brian Evans, David J. Glover, Sue Wismar, Artie Isaac, Josie Merkle, Ian Short and Michael Morris. Only two dates remain, Feb. 8 & 9 at Denison University in Granville.

Since no one who has witnessed WRRR should say much, I won’t reveal quotes or parts of Nassim’s script, other to report that the writer is referred to as the “me,” and the reader on stage, the “intermediary,” is I believe a conduit channeling the writer. At the time of writing Nassim was not allowed a passport to leave his country because he had refused to participate in military service as a conscientious objector.

He did ask for a photo to be taken and emailed to him. I complied with this request, and sent a stage shot to him at

I was so taken by this script that I returned on December 9 to witness Josie Merkle’s manner of presenting WRRR.  Again, I dare not be much more descriptive, but key takeaways I ponder include the notion of free will, the act of individual courage,  authoritarianism, and our current creep toward the spectre of fascism.


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November 30, “Lester, December 1,” from NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days



                Lester, December 1 

He had been up on his walker 
just the week before,
shuffling through the dining 
room, jones-ing for his TUMS 
antacid fix instead of turkey.

There was snowfall that weekend.
He stared outside, toward Chippewa Lake,
eyes fixed, as the black 
flickering shadow of the red 
cardinal danced on the white 
snow under the maple he planted 
when he built this house.

As the days followed, the walker
retired to the side of the bed,
Dad, resigned to slower breaths, slept.
As a boy I often begged him to make 
a muscle, so I could caress 
the hardball of his bicep.
Once, but only once, 
he playfully chased me 
across the side yard in Lodi, 
I was startled by his speed.

He was his mother's son for over 53 years.
That morning, very early, she called
our cousin on the Greenbrier,
she knew...she professed over the phone,
"something will happen today that will break my heart."

I got the call at my job, "coma...come now."
Mom waited for the priest who never arrived.
The ambulance came for duty and left before me.
He was gone.
"No parent should ever outlive her children," 
Granma wailed. She passed on before the need
to bury any others.

Parker's Funeral Home. 
An uncle gripped me in a hug.
He started to cry, but soundlessly.
I felt his fear, 
like the fabric of his dark suit jacket.
We put the rest of his TUMS
in his coffin.


excerpted from
NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days
in memory of the last month of life of Lester C Coe (1925-1978)

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November 29, “Thirteen Pelicans in Flight,” from NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days


Thirteen Pelicans in Flight


above the couple
who walk

the sandy side
of Carolina

as the tide leans
on Africa.

The sea tortoise lies
beached in the surf

after a century
of shrimp

and hurricanes.
Weathered timbers

jut from the dune,
splinters raised
by rains

and grainy salt,
only to be buried,

then recovered. And this pair
search the lagoon with their toes

for sand dollars
and conches

that grow
on the bank

of the island
that rises 

from the tide's


excerpted from
NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days
in memory of the last month of life of Lester C Coe (1925-1978)

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November 28, “Artifacts and Dentistry,” from NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days



Artifacts and Dentistry


Nathan isn't with you
yet, this Wednesday

evening of poetry, courtesy
of Columbus Recreation & Parks.

You politely listen, patiently
await reception of any

magic image or sound
and it occurs that you seldom

hear a poem with the force
of the tiny dents and dings

you notice on the red housing
of the Swiss Army knife,

the gift from his mother
the year of your wedding.

Yes, you realize, these pockmarks
are the toothprints

of your year-old son.


excerpted from
NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days
in memory of the last month of life of Lester C Coe (1925-1978)

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November 27, “Crows, and Others,” from NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days



The crows
that roost at the peak 
of Mom's barn roof
rusted sheet metal
assured they will eat
by dusk.


Black Hand

one gorge, two buzzards...
then three, four drums beating, five
Canadian geese
ascend from the pool
deep on Flint Ridge


excerpted from
NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days
in memory of the last month of life of Lester C Coe (1925-1978)

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November 26, “Texture,” from NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days


maple leaf



November feels like the wale of a corduroy calendar,
a hike along herringboned pavement,
hearing the unshaven whiskers scratch fingerprints,
seeing soles scuffle over street pavers,
as Hopper's tender light sprays warmth
on russet brick walls at dawn.

A west wind breaks that last scarlet leaf
from a noisy maple branch.
These dark north clouds, purple layers of slate
slide over vacant hay fields, the stubbles wait for snow.

By the fence, the shed skin of a corn snake
catches on barbed wire.
Expired paint dries, chips peel from splintered barns.
Seven buzzards spread on six limbs
of wind-scrubbed sycamore, 

the winter breath on the bark quakes 
like my mother's ancient face.

November stirs at the oak coda,
the hymn of acorns, the route of rising moons.
But the leaf sins, 

separates from the twig
only to become one with earth.


excerpted from
NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days
in memory of the last month of life of Lester C Coe (1925-1978)

Posted in NOVEMBER: A Poem in 30 Days, Orange Acorn, The Un-empiracal | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment