The Coastal Star

Gerson Fabe shows some of his works at The Carlisle Palm Beach. He shares a new poem daily with his fellow residents. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

Poet sets reality and romance to rhyme
(and is rewarded with an eager audience)

By Willie Howard

    Whether he’s poking fun at our culture’s loss of civility or delving into his imagination to create wistful romantic images, Gerson Fabe enjoys writing poems and sharing them with fellow residents of The Carlisle Palm Beach, a senior living community in Lantana.
    When Carlisle residents arrive in the dining room for breakfast, many of them find something special on the pressed white tablecloths — sheets of paper bearing the headline “Poem of the Day.”
    Fabe, who turns 96 this month, studied writing in New York, where he was a life insurance agent. He started writing poems and short stories after he retired and moved to Boynton Beach more than 30 years ago.
    Fabe translates thoughts into rhyming stanzas of poetry on a computer in his fourth-floor apartment at The Carlisle. Words from television spark some of his ideas. Sometimes, he begins a poem, shelves it — and finishes it later.
    In addition to poetry, Fabe has published a collection of short stories titled Short Stories for Trips of All Sizes. Each story has a suggested reading time, listed in the index.
    Born on Sept. 28, 1921, Fabe grew up in Cincinnati, where he worked for his high school newspaper.
    After studying mechanical engineering for two years at the University of Cincinnati, Fabe learned that what would become the Air Force needed men with mechanical backgrounds during World War II.
    Fabe had become a pilot before entering the Air Force, so after 13 weeks of training at Yale University, he became an Air Force test pilot.
    He was the first to fly planes after they’d been repaired. Partly because of his careful preflight inspections, Fabe never had to ditch a plane during his six years in the Air Force.
    Flying emerges as a theme in some of his poems, such as Come Fly With Me, a romantic piece written in 1996, the year Fabe lost his wife, Joan.
    Other Fabe poems, such as The Lament of Old Age and Through the Fog, address the effects of aging.
    “Any poem that deals in some way with age everybody loves because they see themselves as the poem unfurls,” Fabe said.
    Fabe started sharing his poems with other residents after moving to The Carlisle three years ago. After finding a few copies of his poems in the dining room at breakfast, residents began to ask for them.
    He usually prints 25 copies of his daily poem and distributes them at breakfast.
    “Everybody seems to love them,” Fabe said, noting that some residents walk up to him with their hands out, expecting a copy.

Poems by Gerson Fabe

The Lament of Old Age

My stamina and I
Are no longer speaking.
My left knee joint
Is loudly creaking.
But I’m glad to be here.

My blood pressure
Whirls out of sight.
My eyes can’t tell
If it’s day or night.
But I’m glad to be here.

My right arm ignores
My other hand
My heart is pumping
To beat the band.
But I’m glad to be here.

My kidney ignores
The plight of my liver
And I’ve been totally rejected
As a whole blood giver
But I’m damn glad to be here.


Through the Fog

Memories flit in and out of a fog
That grows denser as we age
The moment in which they reveal
     themselves
Is as swift as just turning a page.

A segment of the past appears,
     then
Drifts away in the blink of an eye.
Although you see them for but an
     instant
You live it again as if it had just
     gone bye.

Pleasant memories are always
      welcome
but sometimes leave the mind
     agog.
Then of course there are the other
     kind
These we’ll wish back into the fog.

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