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It’s been a long time coming, but Better With Friends, forthcoming from Rank Stranger Press, is now available for pre-order, directly from me. The book of poems—pre-run estimate 92 pages—will sell for $14.00 (plus $2.50 S & H) By pre-ordering, you can save $2.50 shipping and handling.
Send a check for $14.00, your mailing address, and any instructions for personalization to:
2569 Wood Valley Road
Winston-Salem, NC 27106
All books sent will be signed copies that will be mailed within two business days of the time I receive the first shipment of books. I do not have a release date, but the publisher believes the work can be done quickly. I will post more about this, if I know more.
This offer is good through April or until I receive the books, whichever is longer. Feel free to let me know you have mailed a check or not, as you choose.
Praise for Better With Friends
“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,… but these details are not the only “truth”… in this collection. How does the spirit shine through the labors of time? How does [one’s] 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.
Putting things right, in all the possible meanings of that phrase, is what these poems are about, making order of memory, loss and injustice, making restitution, reparation, describing with evocative precision the emotional details that make a life. Would that we all could move more like this poet.
—Scott Owens, author of The Fractured World
By striving to understand the complexities and scope of social injustice, memory, faith and loss, and seeking equilibrium and hope through understanding within a world that is often disconnected, Losse has written a meditative book with poems that stand on their own yet connect, ultimately, to a prayer that “we might gather humanity together.”
—Jessie Carty, author of At the A & P Meridiem
Each spring I gather a few of tiny violets from the place in our yard in which they voluntarily grow. I float their tiny heads on a bowl of water in a small pink depression ware bowl to honor a grandmother I never knew. The few pieces of depression ware that I have belonged to her. Today I looked for these volunteer flowers that now sit to my left.
My grandmother, Ellen Ora (also called Elnora, Nora, or Norie) Tingle Jones died prior to WWII, prior to my birth. She and my grandfather, Lee B. Jones (Paw to us kids) had five children, now all deceased. There was Fern, the only girl, who married William O. Carpenter and had a son, also William; Lloyd who married Daisy and had a daughter Merle and a son Lee; Earl Ray (Daddy) who married Elsie Rosa Jefferies Jones in England during WWII and had me, Pam and Michael; Walter, who died in the Pacific during WWII; and Robert Chester, who never married. At some point Nora and Lee were divorced, but details concerning that were never clear. Only that Daddy waited until she had died to join the army—the same army that had rejected him earlier.
My grandmother lived in East Joplin at 321 High Street, where my grandfather lived until his death. This was the home in which my father and his siblings grew up—half a block from Junge Stadium where my Dad once gave Babe Ruth a shoulder massage. Sweet Peas grew on the fence that separated Paw’s house from his neighbor. As a child, I loved them.
But today isn’t about Paw or the sweet peas. It’s about the grandmother I never knew. It’s about the women who came before me—women who had to be strong. Women like Nora. Women without whom I wouldn’t exist. Seems like floating violets is the least I can do.
March 29 Reflection
Reflection: The highest adoration we offer to God, “in spirit and in truth” is in this sharing of the breath of the Divine Spirit with one another in pardon and in love. That is why we are told to forgive one another before we go to offer sacrifice. That is why we exchange the kiss of peace before Communion. The kiss of peace is in some way part of our Eucharistic communion: it symbolizes the spiritual sharing of the Holy Spirit. With a holy kiss we give the Holy Spirit to one another, as if the flame of one candle were transferred to enlighten another.
Thomas Merton. Seasons of Celebration, p. 224.
Reading from the Bible: “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12: 24-25 [NRSV]
Prayer: Let us die to ourselves and live for those you have gathered in your Name.
In February 2006, when I first began this blog and named it “Windows Toward the World,” I was busy at work on a book manuscript by the same name. Later I changed the manuscript name to Prayer In the Fog and other slight variations of that title. After a number of friends helped me shape the poems and the manuscript, I shopped it under that title since September 2007. Recently—just prior to the death of our friend Paul Cherenzia—I changed the poem title to Better With Friends to match the poem written for him.
Now after weeks of hard work—haggling over details, considering how many copies to print and price per book, selecting and sitting for photographs, collecting blurbs, etc.—I am happy to announce that Better With Friends will be published by Rank Stranger Press.
Information about release date will be forthcoming.
EDIT: Information concerning pre-orders coming soon.
Our hearts and minds desire clarity. We like to have a clear picture of a situation, a clear view of how things fit together, and clear insight into our own and the world’s problems. But just as in nature colors and shapes mingle without clear-cut distinctions, human life doesn’t offer the clarity we are looking for. The borders between love and hate, evil and good, beauty and ugliness, heroism and cowardice, care and neglect, guilt and blamelessness are mostly vague, ambiguous, and hard to discern.
It is not easy to live faithfully in a world full of ambiguities. We have to learn to make wise choices without needing to be entirelysure.
Big developments in the anti-death penalty movement!
• On March 18, 2009 the state of New Mexico joined 14 other states and the District of Columbia in abolishing the death penalty! That makes a solid 30% of states in the U.S.A. that have recognized the potential for uncorrectable mistakes, the high economic and moral costs and the prejudiced application of this practice of state killing. As reported by the Zimbabwe Star “ten other states are considering bills to abolish the death penalty, and much of the debate centres around the risks of executing the innocent and the death penalty’s high financial costs.”
• From the Moratorium now! Campaign: “We are excited to report that SCS/SB 321-which would create a death-penalty study commission-is on the Missouri Senate’s Formal Calendar.”
Meanwhile, on the Battlefront:
Last Week (03/16/09–03/22/09)
03/19 Phillip Hartford, Alabama !!!STAY ISSUED!!! to allow adjudication of lethal injection suit
03/20 Dwayne Woods, Washington !!STAY ISSUED!!! to allow further appeals
This week (03/23/09–03/29/09)
03/26 Ronald Puksar, Pennsylvania !!!STAY ISSUED!!! to allow further appeals
Next Week (03/30/09-04/05/09)
04/01 Richard Boxley, Pennsylvania scheduled, but likely stay for further appeals
for more information go to The Armband Protest Agaisnt the Death Penalty
Touch, yes, touch, speaks the wordless words of love. We receive so much touch when we are babies and so little when we are adults. Still, in friendship touch often gives more life than words. A friend’s hand stroking our back, a friend’s arms resting on our shoulder, a friend’s fingers wiping our tears away, a friend’s lips kissing our forehead — these are true consolation. These moments of touch are truly sacred. They restore, they reconcile, they reassure, they forgive, they heal.
Everyone who touched Jesus and everyone whom Jesus touched were healed. God’s love and power went out from him (see Luke 6:19). When a friend touches us with free, nonpossessive love, it is God’s incarnate love that touches us and God’s power that heals us.
Think: Just the touch of even the hem of His garment, and people were healed.