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BARC! (Be Alert Recognize Cancer)

I knew what it was when I saw it – 

    Laying it out for the juror
I knew whose it was,
Instant recognition of painterly style and subject
Marjorie’s sweet animals
    But this one was different,
Confirming, I turned the painting over and read the title:
“This Dog Detects Breast Cancer Through Smell”!
Her appreciation of the dog’s gift
To us, to learn, to detect, to warn
    Sniffing out the budding
Threats of Time-lapsed decay
Marjorie captures the amazing feat,
Woman’s best friend provides
Diagnostics, more timely than the M.D. 
Cancer smells!
Don’t I know it.
I learned this first-hand,
Witness to my mother’s demise,
Her breast cancer, full-blown
After four years and failed treatments
An ending near, the tumors had
Boiled up to the surface:
Cutaneous Metastatic Tumors
All along the scar lines.
No dogs were ever present.
It is a smell that lingers,

Most unpleasant olfactory recall.
My memory, my keen sense
Now I know, and I’ve recognized it – 
Once on a friend, once on a stranger
But what does one say and
Am I part dog?

Originally published in the San Diego Poetry Annual 2011-12, Garden Oak Press, Rainbow, CA, 2012, “Self-Similitude (or Row, Row, Row Your Boats!)” pgs 65-66, Ekphrastic poem about Katsushika Hokusai and his woodblock print “Under the Wave off Kanagawa” (aka “The Great Wave”), from the series “Views of Mount Fuji (c. 1830-32)

​Originally published in Summation IV: The Merging of Art and Poetry, Escondido, CA, 2011, Escondido Municipal Gallery, December 9-31, 2011. Eds. Robert Lundy and Elizabeth Yahn Williams, “Stroll” (Ekphrastic poem compliment to art by Claire-Lise Matthey Anderegg, “Nocturne”) p 35; “Ancestral Lesson” (Ekphrastic poem compliment to art by Sylvia T. Clark, “Uprooted”) p 53

Stroll [“Nocturne” (Claire-Lise Matthey Anderegg)]

Somnambulant and visceral, her hypnotic suggestions—
Are we rising upwards in scale and tone?
Ladder to heaven, backdrop of starry starry night;
Appearing in muted colors and/or black and white?
Or a canvas entrance, a music-stand, a platform…
Maybe our gaze is down as we cross this bridge,
Grading into the rocks below us,
Rematerializing on the other side…?
Can you hear how the water streams—Is this the collective dream?

There is a tree, or so it seems,
Which could be branching out…
Just as easily, splaying its roots
Feathered veins of marbalesque qualities.
All are forms of unknown exactitude.
What of the egg-sphere-pods?
How do we interpret the cosmic mystery…?
The Meaning of their presence, cryptic:
Markers to the portal; that window in the frame:
May be A Wrinkle in Time
Now we notice a meteor shower,
Fish in the pond, travelling in schools
Of sublime thought-patterns shooting over our heads:
—Thus our Sleep-strolling is conducted, all entranced by
 Claire-Lise’s orchestration of nocturnal notes.

“Self-Similitude (or Row, Row, Row Your Boats!)”

Hokusai!  The exponential artist, Son of a Mirror Maker 
Undoubtedly exposed at an age
 predating imposed order to
Concepts innate, intuited, and infinite,
Thereby perceiving fractals, wave within wave
Magic to a young boy, I imagine, caught between two worlds, reflected
    In the endless hallway
        Observer and Observed Comingled

Before definition might dissolve his resolution
His revelation persisted, divulged after six decades 
Depicted as okinami, “wave of the open sea” 
not a tsunami
Although, apparently, that in itself is a popular theme of seismic debate
    We di-gress, as naturally occurring in infinite regress
        “Kanagawa Oki Nami Ura,” a part of the series,
Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji; so popular, the artist then added ten more.

The Wave itself dominates, a sacred right to be larger-than-life
Generating gasps and gulps from viewers, on the brink
Poised on the Crest of annihilation, first-hand witnesses, three boats of ten men, each. 
Mt. Fuji unremarkable in the distant background,
     Wave-like, Landmark—
Bearings, echo-graphed, peaked and hollowed
    The latter, where those sentenced-to-death currently reside: death-row
    Outcome, imminent, but perpetual; suspended in space and time

1820’s thereabouts, long before mathematic translation of nature’s fractalability
    Subdivision ad-infinitum, self-similarity
This artist, Master of the ukiyo-e style, demonstrated
Deep understanding of underlying structures
Repetitive Motions, Expressed in color and light
Brushed onto paper or silk
Rendered unto the engraver for collaborative process;
Variable reproductions, printed and published, approximately 5000 from one woodblock!

Thirty-plus pseudonyms and an end goal that he should live long enough to
Impart art where “every dot and every stroke” might generate independent life
Might not have panned out quite as he envisioned in that 
He did not live to 140, but rather 89
However, by way of Ekphrasis, fractally speaking, his ripples continue to present
Escaping the boundaries of periodic measurement and frame-of-reference
Ironic and Iconic, everlasting life teetering, undulating
Hokusai conceptualized eternity, potential: the Great what if

EKPHRASTIC POETRY: The most basic definition is poetry inspired by art.

Ancestral Lesson [“Uprooted” (Sylvia T. Clark)]

Look, you say you’ve been uprooted,
I see how your pages are torn away, dispensed
Pieces wrenched right out of the hammered nest,
Scenes from the family portfolio
Dispersed lace-like papers are fallen leaves, records
Dis-playing autumn’s earth browns, ruddy purples and reds.
Ultimately, time reveals the intricate underlying vascular pathways
Easily crushed down into pulp and dust.
So you use sticks and beads to adorn the myth retrieved from the cave wall
Now spiraling, extending, celebrating seasons of change,
    “Nature’s first green is gold”
You honor the ancestors by spreading their seed-stories;
Preserving your heritage, you collect from the source--
    See, now you are ready to lay down new roots.
Notice the mother-tree encircled by her saplings and remember
Not to forget your talents, storyteller, this is fertile ground.

Original postcard with first and second place included on the front.  We were asked to write an ekphrastic poem to be included in a future catalogue, as this was the first NEA Grant-funded show for EAP, but the catalogue never happened.  However, as I happened to write a poem about Marjorie Weaver's first-place award winning painting, on the front of the postcard, I am happy to include it here alongside her awesome painting that was familiar to me the moment I saw it.