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What does today's poet, John Gabel, have in common with Ted Kooser and Wallace Stevens? They all worked in some aspect of the insurance business. The title of Gabel's poem "oex" refers to the formula for life expectancy.

"oex" by John Gabel

the group annuity
mortality table
for 1951
with projection table
expects part of me to die
this year

of me to be exact
by implication
the rest of me will live
the table knows more
than it pretends to know
for death is not a onetime thing
and surely this year I did die
a little

the table thinks the part that lives
has an expectation
of 22.73 years
the dead part doesn’t get buried
it accumulates
you have to carry it around
making do
for all those years

"°ex" by John Gabel from Beach Glass. Cleveland State Poetry Center 1978. Used with permission of the author.

John Gabel began writing poetry at age 47, after a stint in the Merchant Marines and during his career as President of Retirement Plans, an actuarial firm. He served on the Ohio Humanities Council and was President of the Poets League of Greater Cleveland. His poetry publications include Beach Glass (CSU Poetry Center) and Greatest Hits 1970-2000.