Monday, August 12, 2013


Karen wrote many poems, in fact several poems made their way into the California Quarterly, a fact for which she was very proud.  "I'm a published poet!" she said when she got her copy in the mail.  Here is a poem I found that seem appropriate at this time - Karen, by the way, loved trees.  Stephen.


In a little month the men will come
and screw unscrew the screeching trees
uncorked, unable, not to grow again
Replaced by many many things that we call houses
we stupid angular masses that move only to the rhythm of success and failure
to build that which likens to us:
square houses , drab in colour, never fetching to the eye
square homes milky gray and khaki
vomit peach and sometimes a hope of blue
eight of them on the place where my trees have been.
I went , of course, for a talk,
a last goodbye.
There is one, oh there is one that I must mention.
I know it cradles, circles , embraces the old homestead
with a crafty needle- birch - eye!
For how else could it assiduously escape the roofing enclosure!
It bends back just now, moves over the rafters when it may!
And in so doing, paying little attention to the winding snakey direction of its own limbs,
it comes up more fragile, formed with attenuated grace,
in fact more of an explosion of bark and tiny greens than all the rest.
Ah well, that’s the nature of giving, isn’t it?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of that which gives.
And then: a Christmas tree! Two stories tall, sporting the pointed reflective leaf,
lacking only berries. All hail! The last Christmas!
But there are rattan trees
proffering only sprouts of fading green
one bony trunk and then another and another
pointing to the sky,
simple, like simple children pointing effortlessly with tiny bodies at the sky

And the fruit trees are pregnant.
They bulge with the fumes of life,

more highly scented and ambrosiac than a vagina.
And they will die
they will all be cast down by red metal in a month.
No I will continue:
I picked a small orange from one,
It was underneath the white thunderously scented white stars on branches above.
And now,
before its better birth,
the aborted ball in my hand smelled only of perfumed flowers.
It doesn’t know.
No one has told it:
The heavens will be empty soon.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

August 7th update from Stephen, Karen's husband

A lot of people have been asking me what's the latest with Karen, so here it is:
   Last post I did was mid-June, we were in St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica. A week later, everything the hospital could do for Karen had been done; bacterial infections & anemia handled, heart & lungs working - everything but the cancer itself.  By the way, props to St John's, a top notch hospital with a great staff of doctor's and nurses.
  Karen's health continued to deteriorate at an alarming pace. She became bed-bound: the spreading cancer having eaten away part of a vertebra and nerves in her lower back. Her left leg stopped functioning.  We could not go to Europe as we had hoped. It would have been almost impossible to travel to the airport.  So we brought alternative treatments to her bedside.  Hardly as effective as doing a full treatment in a clinic, but I firmly believe that these treatments have been keeping her alive.  I can't tell you how many times doctors and nurses have pulled me aside and told me that I better start hospice, as she was about to die.  One doctor told me that he thought that Karen had only 24 hours to live when she arrive at St. Johns June 3rd, and yet here she is alive two months later.
   The kind people at the Motion Picture Television Fund helped place her in a nursing facility, where she is now.  The cancer is still spreading slowly and it takes its toll.
   I have given up predicting what is going to happen to Karen.  In June family members flew in fearing the worse, but Karen is still here.  You look at the scans, they tell you one thing, then you meet Karen, and what you are left with is how amazingly alive she is. Maybe it's her belief system, maybe it's because she was never one to tune out with drugs in her life, but mostly it's her innate character. She can't help but take life head-on and be completely engaged in the moment, always interested, always curious, always present.
   My daughter and I have both stopped working so that we can be by her side and we have hired someone to help as well. Thanks to your generous support through this process we can be there for her all the time.  We are supplementing traditional medicine with all the alternative care we can afford.  This would not have been possible without your generosity.
  As a filmmaker I never remain idle, and have been filming this whole process from the beginning almost three years ago - it has been therapy for both Karen and myself, because after all, if cameras are rolling, it can't be really serious, it's just a movie, right?  I hadn't planned on doing anything with the footage, until a few weeks ago, Karen reached out to her old friend, Elliot Mintz. Elliot is considered a media guru who has offered advice to dozens of famous clients over the years including Karen. They spoke by phone about ways Karen could share her experience with others, in her own words, in her own way. I spoke with him about the many hours of film I had shot and within days, Elliot presented some ideas for us to consider.

Karen & Elliot screen grab
   On June 21st, Karen put on her make-up and her hair (chemo is not kind on hair) and had a heart to hear - a bedside talk with Elliot. They spoke for almost two hours. With my daughter shooting second camera in the tiny room, I filmed the deeply moving and candid conversation. Karen of course is very enthusiastic about finding the right platform for some kind of presentation. 'You can take the girl outta showbiz.....' so, we will see. It's still a little raw for me, I'm not sure. It would be an interesting and moving journey to share with a truly unique and original spirit. We are both grateful to Elliot for his support and guidance (He is representing us pro bono).
   So, that's where things are as we begin August. I wish I had better news to report. But cancer seldom allows for that. Karen and I have received hundreds of messages from you. Your prayers and well wishes help sustain us. We remain eternally grateful for all the love you continue to share.