THIS BLOG IS NO LONGER OPERATIONAL. PLEASE ENJOY WHAT IS HERE, AND DO LEAVE A COMMENT IF YOU WISH. NORTH CAROLINA'S NEW POET LAUREATE IS CATHY SMITH BOWERS. SHE WILL SOON HAVE HER OWN WEBSITE THROUGH THE NORTH CAROLINA ARTS COUNCIL SITE. I WILL BE SHIFTING MY ATTENTION TO HERE, WHERE I AM, (SEE SIDEBAR)USING IT TO DRAW ATTENTION TO WRITERS WHOSE WORK DESERVES ATTENTION. I INVITE YOU TO VISIT ME THERE. For a video of the installation ceremony, please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xAk6fOzaNE.
Go to http://www.yourdailypoem.com/, managed with finesse by Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, who says, "Our intent is to make visitors to Your Daily Poem aware of the joy and diversity of poetry."
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
BETTER WITH FRIENDS, by Helen Losse
Cover by Bill Losse
Better With Friends Rank Stranger Press (2009) $14.00 plus $2.50 S & H ($16.50)
send check with your mailing address and any instructions for personalization to:
Helen Losse 2569 Wood Valley Road Winston-Salem, NC 27106
About the Author
Helen Losse is a poet, free lance writer, and Poetry Editor of The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Her recent poetry publications include The Wild Goose Poetry Review, Shape of a Box, Lily, Ghoti, Right Hand Pointing, and Blue Fifth Review. She has two chapbooks, Gathering the Broken Pieces, available from FootHills Publishing and Paper Snowflakes, available from Southern Hum Press. Educated at Missouri Southern State and Wake Forest Universities, she lives with her husband in Winston-Salem, NC where she occasionally writes book reviews for literary magazines.
"I moved like a poet—laboring—/under the weight of the burden of truth," Helen Losse declares in the first poem from Better With Friends. A poet does indeed labor, but in a poem, what is the truth? Losse shows us the unrelenting details of decline and death in "The Kidnapping of Aimee." The soiled sheets, the stench of old age, the waiting upon death, but these details are not the only "truth" in this or any of other poem in this collection. How does the spirit shine through the labors of time? How does soul dance with the world given to us--family, friends, suffering, pleasure? Losse shows us how in these poems, rich as they are in the details that embody our lives. This is indeed the poet's labor brought to fruition. KSB
So I begin again in solitude on the morning of the first day in January.
The sky is dark, and the Christmas tree not yet removed. Gently the rain starts falling,
making the trunks of the back-yard trees barely visible. A light shines in a window.
An American flag on a pole blows in the breeze. The pole is beside the house
across the right of way. I’ve not noticed that flag before. Perhaps, it’s a Christmas flag. One our
neighbors got as a gift, and just now— in the new year—found the time to install.
When the wind stops blowing, the flag disappears, and all I see is a yard full of trees. So did
anything change while I slept? I imagine a garden with a wrought iron gate.
The gate opens to a world in which John Lennon is a younger man. I see, too,
the famous “Godfather of Soul,” humming to yellow roses:
Humming the prayer of my heart: O my God, to see.
A house is visible behind the right of way. I hate that house, and sometimes, when it disappears in the fog, pretend it isn’t there.
I sit in my chair and look into the yard. I imagine I belong. But this morning after the yard was white with snow—
later when the brown grass emerged from its hiding like a flag newly un-furled— the house snickered. “Over here,” it called,
waving and fluttering its shutters, hoping for eye contact like our patulous neighbor with her other seasonal and too-tight pants.
Prayer At the Open Window
In the solitude, I ponder life’s meaning. I have looked but not really seen. Because a window is open
does not mean the air is full of light. Perhaps, I have played too many games— evenings and mornings,
drinking in foolishness with my coffee— and failed to heed a lesson given. Or, perhaps, I barely listened. But I’m
asking now. There is so much to ponder, as I gaze upon the tree line, where just last week another doe came
bolting through the yard. At first, I thought it was a dog. But no dog leaps with such magnificence. No, not even
the greyhound. I know that. I see that. So why not the rest? If there’s really an answer for every question,
no mystery behind heaven’s gate, then I have argued and lost. Surely, something hides in the darkness like a shadow in the fog.
Thrown Out —for Alice
How many times has the wind sung new verses to our familiar choruses,
we’ve seen only the clouds and misread the signs?
We seek peace in a mirror. And looking, when we should have been listening,
missed prophetic thunder in the blackening of trees.
But new birth accents the possible, disguised in the freshness of a sudden, spring rain.
The time has come to throw out spoiled milk.
There are evergreens already, birds singing low in the brush.
Yet how many nights have we slept on old, cotton sheets,
clinging to comfortable tintypes, content with the smaller of joys?
On the Other Side of the River
Rumor has it, God lives on the opposite side of the river,
stands on the cliff near a tree-covered gorge,
charges past slippery rocks into slime that looks like moss.
The river’s wide with turbulent rapids.
Some, below in the water, have enough buoyancy to float.
A skiff is moored nearby, and sharp branches
jut from the shore. And from what I see
near the river’s shallow edge, it appears that God is not at home.
We always called maple seeds whirlybirds, just as we always did so many things, as children. We liked them best when they were yellow—
when tossed alone, in twos, or even bunches— they came swirling down. Too green, they fell with a plop. Too brown, too thin to fly,
or they fell apart, exposing their spider veins like the vertical strings on a badminton racket. If we had rain, mush, beside the welcome mat.
But this morning, sailing swiftly by my window, catching the light—white and lovely, delicate of drift—landing in a driveway crack
or in gutters in the fertile loam that once was other maple leaves, those ’copters from the sky— unshaken in purpose—became a circle of trees.
I've lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina since 1968, though I'm a native of SW Georgia. My paternal grandmother was born in the Blue Ridge, and I grew up wanting to live here. Where I am.
I've published five collections of poetry, the most recent 4 being with LSU Press, and have published poetry in magazines ranging from The Atlantic Monthly to Appalachian Heritage. But I also hike, bang pots and pans around in my kitchen, and love several dogs who leave fur all over my carpets. I write poetry because it's my way of singing back to the world both within and without.