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As children, we wore our costumes to school. We had a parade.  There were fairy princesses, and hobos.  There were ducks and boys dressed as girls.  Sometimes we wore costumes from last’s Christmas play; one year Pam was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  We are orange cupcakes, bobbed for apples, and munches candy corn.  At night, we went out trick or treating.

When we were little our parents went along, walking with us or taking us a few blocks away in the car.  They had made a rule:  Don’t go to the same house twice.  In other words, don’t be greedy.  Leave some for others.  As we got older, we went alone.  Yes, it was safe.  We tromped as far as we wanted, rain or not.  Often it did rain.  About nine, porch lights started to go off, so we knew it was time to head home with out loot, laughing our heads off.

A few years there was a party at our church.  It involved costumes, cup cakes, candy and games, often a scavenger hunt where we were divided into teams and sent forth – each team with an adult – to locate all ten items on the list.  The team that got back by the specified time with the most items won.

When our older son was little, we took him trick or treating, but later there was a scare concerning poisoned apples and razor blades in candy.  Since going to police station to have a candy x-ray is not part of the formula, we bought candy and I wrote riddles so he could locate the items in our house.  After a few years, the fear resided, and both boys got to go door-to-door trick or treating for candy.

The memories I have are not of ghosts, goblins, and axe-murderers nor of the occult and evil, but of children laughing and eating chocolate bars.  To this day, I love Halloween.

To read more about the images that stuck in my mind, see my poem “Moon-Lit Ghosts,” at Deuce Coupe.



I have a poem “Spin, Spin, Spin” in the new issue of Blue Fifth Review.  (scroll down, but first read Jessie Carty’s poem, “Far and Wee.”)


I’ll be reading from and signing copies of Better With Friends on Wednesday, November 4 at 7:30 pm in Room 204, Z Smith Reynolds Library, Wake Forest University.   See University calendar.


It seems as though word is starting to get around.

See here, here (scroll down), here

and on Curtis Dunlap’s blog.

The event is free and open to the public.

Please come.

Yes, we have cookies!



Better With Friends is now available and in stock at  If you’ve read my book, please consider writing a short review.  If you haven’t, you can buy it now from them or get a signed copy from me.

Christmas is coming.  Poetry books make excellent gifts.

Today I will be reading my poem “Four Snapshots of the Sea-Going Boats,” 1st place winner in Poetry, at the Awards Ceremony of the 2009 Adult Writing Contest  sponsored by the Davidson County Writer’s Guild.


The Church often wounds us deeply. People with religious authority often wound us by their words, attitudes, and demands. Precisely because our religion brings us in touch with the questions of life and death, our religious sensibilities can get hurt most easily. Ministers and priests seldom fully realize how a critical remark, a gesture of rejection, or an act of impatience can be remembered for life by those to whom it is directed.

There is such an enormous hunger for meaning in life, for comfort and consolation, for forgiveness and reconciliation, for restoration and healing, that anyone who has any authority in the Church should constantly be reminded that the best word to characterize religious authority is compassion. Let’s keep looking at Jesus whose authority was expressed in compassion.

emphasis mine

Often we hear the remark that we have live in the world without being of the world. But it may be more difficult to be in the Church without being of the Church. Being of the Church means being so preoccupied by and involved in the many ecclesial affairs and clerical “ins and outs” that we are no longer focused on Jesus. The Church then blinds us from what we came to see and deafens us to what we came to hear. Still, it is in the Church that Christ dwells, invites us to his table, and speaks to us words of eternal love.

Being in the Church without being of it is a great spiritual challenge.

Italics are Nouwen’s

Up-Coming Reading

Helen Losse

Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 7:30 pm – Winston-Salem, NC

Z. Smith Reynolds Library, Room 204, Wake Forest University

Sponsored by the MALS Program (Master of Arts in Liberal Studies)

Over the centuries the Church has done enough to make any critical person want to leave it. Its history of violent crusades, pogroms, power struggles, oppression, excommunications, executions, manipulation of people and ideas, and constantly recurring divisions is there for everyone to see and be appalled by.

Can we believe that this is the same Church that carries in its center the Word of God and the sacraments of God’s healing love? Can we trust that in the midst of all its human brokenness the Church presents the broken body of Christ to the world as food for eternal life? Can we acknowledge that where sin is abundant grace is superabundant, and that where promises are broken over and again God’s promise stands unshaken? To believe is to answer yes to these questions.

My book review of Pris Campbell’s new book, Sea Trails and 1977 Passage Notes, is now online at Blogcritics.

Pris Campbell is a poet, who has been published in the Dead Mule, among other places. Read her chapbook, Songs in the Night, published in the Dead Mule. Another chapbook, Abrasions was first published by Rank Stranger Press.

Pris blogs at Songs to a Midnight Sky.

October 2009