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Facing a Lonely West
Poems About Loss
Facing a Lonely West is a book of poetry that explores many kinds of human loss. The death of the poet’s mother and the grief that followed offer narrative for several poems. Others deal with job loss, loss of intimacy—sexual and communal—miscarriage, loneliness, and drowning. The poems reflect on the past and lead through a dark tunnel to an unknown future without a syrupy conclusion that no one can quite believe.
After a false start and big-time help from Rob MacEwan, the April (Poetry Month) issue of The Dead Mule is online.
Thank you, Rob.
Each April, the Mule presents the poet laureate of a southern state. This year we are featuring NC Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti.
Also in this issue – in a feast for the poetic – are 27 other poets.
Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy.
Ode To the Passionflower
by Helen Losse
growing in Mary’s Garden—
your lavender flowers prophetic in unction:
Your tendrils are shown forth
as Christ’s scourging, the three top stigma the nails,
the five lower anthers the wounds, the radial
filaments the crown of thorns,
placed on the head of the “King of the Jews.”
O, teach us, teach us, little reminder—
for red stains are His blood, shed,
the style to mock, to offer Him vinegar:
Your fragrance all spices that anoint,
and like the dogwood, your taller neighbor,
with each flower Calvary’s cross, your
blossoms focus on the sadness:
For, while gladly we walk in the garden,
the joy of heaven has yet to come.
first published in Flutter
Smiles Breaking Through Tears by Henri Nouwen
Dying is a gradual diminishing and final vanishing over the horizon of life. When we watch a sailboat leaving port and moving toward the horizon, it becomes smaller and smaller until we can no longer see it. But we must trust that someone is standing on a faraway shore seeing that same sailboat become larger and larger until it reaches its new harbor. Death is a painful loss. When we return to our homes after a burial, our hearts are in grief. But when we think about the One standing at the other shore eagerly waiting to welcome our beloved friend into a new home, a smile can break through our tears.
It was in Bethlehem
that a birth changed the world,
the desert dry, and people
hoping for rain but none fell.
Suddenly out of evening shadows,
a man walked the dusty road.
He was tired from too many miles of travel.
Beside him, his wife straddled a donkey.
She was uncomfortable and about to give birth.
They stopped as soon as they could, having been
ordered by the king—like everyone else—
to report to Bethlehem to pay taxes. Night came
in relative silence, everyone weary, huddled together.
Distant stars shone from a cold, gray sky.
Strangers looked on, while that dear Virgin
labored in a small barn. And about midnight,
a baby boy was born with nothing unusual
about the delivery. The mother nursed her neonate,
hummed to Him softly, while impoverished shepherds
herded sheep in fields of sand. And when those shepherds
saw His star as a sign, they went to bow before Him
in an act so humble that even today
some deny God actually came.
This poem was serendipitious ; it came about in a most unusual way – a way that has never happened to me before and most likely won’t ever again. I wrote “A mere sensation,” revised it, submitted it to Right Hand Pointing, and had it accepted for publication all the same day.
This is very unusual. Writing is rewriting – revision. And if a person doesn’t like to revise, he/she really doesn’t like to write. Yes, I revised this poem, but few revisions were needed, and the revisions came more quickly than usual. It is smart to look for a litmag that needs a certain kind of poem – a market where one’s poem fits. That day Dale put out a call for poems like the one I had written. And it is usual to wait for a reply. Dale is quicker than most editors with both acceptances and rejections. (Yes, he’s rejected poems of mine in the past. He’s also accepted a few.) So I went through the usual steps but the process was accelerated.
I have a new poem “In the fall” in vox poetica today. Many thanks to editor Annmarie Lockhart.
I was on the Joseph Milford Poetry Show last Friday, November 9. Here’s the recording.
I read from Seriously Dangerous (also available on amazon.com), Mansion of Memory (a few copies available from me), Better With Friends, and my new (in progress) manuscript, Red Berries From the Mountain Ash.
Many thanks to Joe Milford.
Many thanks to Michael Lee Johnson, who has posted a new interview with me on Interviews Poets, Writers. Check it out.