Saturday, February 28, 2009


The last time I was checked into a hospital and under the influence of any sort of surgical anesthesia (diethyl ether, in those years) Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower were celebrating their second inauguration at the White House.

I always liked Mamie Eisenhower, though she appeared uncomfortable in social settings and was rumored to have had a drinking problem. In reality she suffered from Ménière’s disease, an inner ear disorder that affects equilibrium. Maybe it’s what I found appealing – Mamie possessing a certain vulnerability that seemed to make it okay if the rest of us weren’t perfect.

Criticized by some historians for his lack of leadership on racial issues, it was with Mamie Eisenhower’s encouragement that her husband ordered federal troops into Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce the desegregation of Central High School. He also worked behind the scenes in an effort to defeat Joseph McCarthy. He’d said to have done so directly would have lowered himself to the same level as McCarthy, confounding Congress by bestowing an unintended credibility.

I find it ironic that Dwight Eisenhower supported and signed the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 & 1960, and that under his presidency Barrack Obama’s birthplace became the 50th state to join the Union. I was excited by the flag with fifty stars, we all were, invigorated by the prospects of a new decade. Our thinking in those years, was the slate could be wiped clean and we’d be dispatched to begin again.

I still remember such a time in my life, the ether’s aromatic odor, its sweet, burning taste shading the dreams I had. My hospital room was airy and light, with a window that rose floor to ceiling and looked out at my house. I remember waking up in my mother’s arms, her hair all flyaway. Her glasses sitting slightly askew.

Friday, February 27, 2009


flew, it flew

we knew
it was there
we heard its song

watched it
blot the heavens
all crimson & honey-hued

then it was gone, it was gone

Thursday, February 26, 2009


We’re out with friends for a couple of beers when my eyes are drawn to a lone cracker there on the table, the solitary goldfish nestled in the midst of a bowlful of knotted pretzels.

Ever notice the Queen Anne’s lace has a single purple blossom at the center of every flower? acknowledging the similarities.

Same as the beer mix, guess someone suggested.

I’d been reading innuendo into the oddest of things – lately, hardly a billboard or a weather report that hadn’t made some sort of indelicate inference. So I say: or even my dreams parading as pretense.

Eliciting a response from one of us that dreams may be little more than windows to the soul, a revelation seemed directed at me.

Then when we get up to go, following an evening of frivolity and frenzied discourse, topics ranging from Obama’s cabinet choices to Marty Willson-Piper (lead singer for a band called the Church) and the hardness of Chinese ebony, I reach into the scattered pretzel remains to extract several of the goldfish I’d spotted languishing at the bottom of the bowl.

Eyebrows raised, our young friend Chloe who’d been quietly observing from across the table: a few fish for the road?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


On the eve of the operation, this is what I’m planning to write:

I’m sure everything will be just fine, Hon. But in the event they forget how to wake me up, I wanted to tell you how privileged I feel to have been your husband, your lover, and your friend.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Been so cold here in Wisconsin, snow nearly to our waists, I convinced my Engineering staff to develop a defrost heater for my piss bag. It seems post-prostatectomy, it’s sometimes necessary to be catheterized for a week or two and I was concerned the bag might freeze strapped there to my leg.

We’ll arrange a foil-backed resistant circuitry wired from dissimilar metals, was what I’d suggested, with little chance for spark or ignition.

They’d confessed they could only make it available in 115V AC.

I told ‘em that was okay, I’d have access to an electrical outlet (not thinking about what else could go wrong as a consequence of high amp draw, excessive current leakage, or the dielectric voltage withstand!).

Thursday, February 19, 2009


December 21, 2008

It’s been a rough year, Dad. Probably one of the roughest we’ve had to deal with in a very long time. Yet at the end of the day I feel nothing but overwhelming happiness, and I have you and Mom to thank for that. You’ve always been there to catch me. Now let me be there to catch you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Here’s what they say in their tv ad: side effects might include dizziness, runny nose, and a decrease in semen. Get the picture?

Get the picture? Get the picture? What, so just before you lose your balance your seminal tubes somehow start flooding all the mucus membranes?

Sunday, February 15, 2009


The year I dropped the tree on my garage, I guess you could say I already knew things were too good to last.

I’d even suggested as much.

But here I was all pumped up, believing I’d cut the perfect notch and even laying out saplings where I expected to fell the tree, as all the while I’m walking around thinking: isn’t it amazing how man can control something so massive, so much weightier than his own length and girth?

I’ll admit I’d grown a bit too full of myself.

Still, everything seemed to have fallen perfectly into place. Until I started my saw with a single pull, had hardly touched it to the trunk of the tree (opposite the notch, of course) when the saw suddenly pinched and I knew I was fucked.

Friday, February 13, 2009

GABBY (a young girl who answers deafness through her gift of prophecy)

written on the back of what I mistook for a napkin

Gabby’s been working on your husband a lot w/prayer, the 1st time she worked on him from his picture. Here’s what she said:

He’s getting better at trying to be happy.

There are a lot of special people who are helping him.

Learning how to accept what he has now will teach him to:

- live in the moment.

- experience life a new way.

- be happy that he has this life.

- look forward to more of what will happen.

- rest, and accept & know that he will get better.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


You have an ambitious nature

and will make a name for yourself.

You will have many friends when you need them.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Thanksgiving rolls around. And by this time, except for my son who’d only the day before arrived home from Minneapolis, and my daughter who tends toward internalization anyway and who’d been having a tough enough year of her own, we’d each had a chance to adjust to the news I’d received.

We knew telling the children would be a more delicate matter.

So my wife says, Hey! Let’s play pin the prostate on the turkey – as a lesson in anatomy geared for grade-schoolers, I suppose. Except the kids are already into their early twenties and we worry they’ll catch on right away that we’re stonewalling, maybe holding something back.

Do we know it’s a tom?

Doesn’t matter, it seems. The point is to use it as an icebreaker, as a three-dimensional visual aid. Kind of a let’s begin by acquainting ourselves with the proximity of the prostate and its associated piping and perplexities sort of perspective. Then we can relax. We can get on with the Thanksgiving holiday, everyone filling their bellies with livers and gizzards and feeling much better about themselves.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


I read on the internet that Major League Baseball just signed their first two players from India. Imagine that, and after a hundred years or more! Because my urologist/surgeon is of Indian descent, of course I took notice.

What sold me in the first place, was that he’d said both his parents were surgeons, and coupled with his love of video games from an early age, the da Vinci robotic-assisted approach to radical prostatectomies seemed a natural melding of two worlds. I couldn’t disagree, though I found myself more focused on his lineage.

My urologist/surgeon sure knows his stuff. He’d laid out a number of options ranging from something called watchful waiting (I liked the alliteration), to radiation therapy, conventional surgery and robotic-assisted laparoscopy, each with a number of distinctive variations that had been assigned clever names like Cyberknife, brachytherapy, cryotherapy, and the proton and shaped beam radio surgeries, and each with their respective risks and potential life-altering side effects. I was told chemotherapy is typically reserved for the more advanced stages of the disease.

From early on, I guess you could say we were smitten – my wife admittedly more than I, but then I was still reeling from an onset of mild dementia brought on by the burden of my prostate’s betrayal. My urologist/surgeon carries himself with a certain swagger, seems confident in his abilities almost to the point of being brazen. He said if I were a family member he’d recommend watchful waiting. I’m more curious about his lifetime batting average, or whether or not he expects to win the Cy Young award.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


The geese so low, to hear their whisper of wing feathers one need only squat close to the open flue.

Cold and blustery.

Wood box brimming with kindling and brown ash, the ways of the world still measurably askew. We’ll be barefoot before we dare to breathe… a fish chowder steaming in the kitchen, our feet to the fire.

On a night so dark we fear we might lose ourselves, comes the moonlight reflected phosphorescent off the virgin snow.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Long before the divorce papers have been filed, both parties know the marriage is over. Such is the relationship I enjoy with my prostate.

We used to be better friends, displayed a far greater level of affection. No one’s been more accommodating, no one as nice. But I suppose age has a way of changing things, of setting the record straight. So no drawn out apologies, no sad goodbyes. My prostate won’t be living here anymore, and my patience is wearing thin. I’ve enough to be comfortable. It seems all I need now is the house to myself.