SPOKANE LEGEND and KOEMS illustrator Sally Pierone died Friday, June 25, surrounded by family. An internationally-renowned artist, illustrator, therapist and bon vivant, Sally lived her life larger than life. She worked in postwar Europe promoting the Marshall Plan as its visionary art director; rubbed elbows with countless artists, writers and celebrities in Paris; illustrated a book for Art Buchwald; and—once back stateside—devised her own art therapy modality.
Meanwhile, Sally also raised three remarkable sons in Spokane, whom she followed to Los Angeles a few years ago. And, in an afternoon sometime before she left town, Sally illustrated the KOEMS.
For more details on Sally’s amazing life, check out this LINK to an article in Wikipedia.
And celebrating my tenth anniversary as a cancer dancer.
WHAT an unlikely journey this has been. Ten years ago I was diagnosed, much to my surprise, with stage-three, highly-aggressive bladder cancer. The odds were fifty-fifty. My own sense was I would not survive. That I did is a miracle. Why I did, I have no idea.
But for the first six weeks post surgery, I was bed bound at home—remarkably pain free, but bored—when these curious rhymes started assembling themselves in my head out of thin air. I wrote them down. They kept coming. At the end of my recovery I had a book’s worth. Perhaps even more remarkable, none showed up after that. The collection was complete.
I split the words…to come up with KOEMS.
Next, I needed to figure out a title. No help from the muse on that. But, I noticed the verses seemed to be a hybrid of a puzzling zen KOAN and a whimsical nursery rhyme POEM, so I split the words and set the halves together to come up with KOEMS. Seemed to fit. Then I asked a dear friend, Sally Pierone, to do the illustrations and voila, I had the makings of a pocket poetry book.
I printed 40 copies and gave them to friends. Now it’s ten years later. Technology has evolved. Seems a good time to share a virtual version with the world. So here’s the introduction to the reformatted edition.
I’ll be following with the series, one KOEM at a time, over the next year. The first sets the stage for what is to come.
In total, there are 30 KOEMS in the series. Except for the first and last, which did not appear exactly at the beginning or end of the process but were clearly the opening and closing KOEMS, they will be uploaded in the order they appeared to me.