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Please pray for Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh—idiots both, concerning what they said about the disaster in Haiti.

I have three poems from Better With Friends on the latest issue of Shape of a Box, thanks to editor Jessie Carty.

You can read the poems at Shape of a Box and buy a copy of Better With Friends from me or from Amazon.com.

$14 (plus $2.50 S & H)

[Note:   Copies from me are signed, and I make more profit from these copies than the ones sold on Amazon.  Either way, I appreciate it.]

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:

Helen Losse
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.

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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.

Kathryn Stripling Byer, NC Poet Laureate and author of Wildwood Flower and Coming to Rest

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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

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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

Can it be over a month now that I said an announcement would be forthcoming on this blog?

Yes, February 6 is over a month ago.   See Housekeeping – Cleaning, etc.

And all this while I bet readers have been waiting with “baited breath.”

No?  Well. it’s been month+ of waiting.

Soon, soon.

Maybe another couple of weeks.

Then back to another kind of waiting.  🙂

Today our son Victor’s housemate and longtime friend Shane Collins  has been deployed to Iraq for his second tour.   Please keep him and all our other members of the armed forces who are now in harm’s way in your prayers.

President Obama has promised that the war there will be over in August 2010. (read more)

1.

The frost has killed the summer flowers.
They hang brownish heads

from spindly stems.  The autumnal sky
is gray and looks like ice.  November

rain brought the leaves down.  They now cover
most of the ground.  But the hour

is not yet come for the feast that will usher in
the Best Holiday of them all.

I like Christmas.  I love it.
Yet I am wary as a turkey before

the slaughter and have forgotten the word
that was on my mind that night,

when I took notes about the blurring of
false boundaries, so that memories and dreams

became parts of my prayer.  That word destroyed
all categories into which everyone must fit.

I know there were natives present.
But everywhere one goes, it seems,

there are natives.   What was I thinking
that could “break barriers down”?

Is there a word that transcends all difference
and puts my feet on solid ground?

6.

A rainbow is visible through the clouds,
but the multitudes stand like sheep,
while the rain comes stroking the air.  The rain
cleans the water and the firmament.
The people don’t know, of course,
that they are sheep, forsaking what matters most:

They have forgotten to dream.
And as the pond and the lake fill with water,
small puddles form on the land,
the sheep relive their false memories.

They think they are thinking, choosing,
watching for wolves.  They “know about”
wolves, because they are sheep.
But they don’t know wolves.

The sheep bow their heads,
while raindrops fall into a small pond
in the openness of meadow. But other drops
became lodged in the trees, where they hang in
fine slivers of hope—unless, in the coldness,
they freeze—only to fall when the sun penetrates
the dense forest, sending them on a journey
to wherever it is they must go,
which is—at least, for some—

like speaking the truth in love.

7.

The other night
as music over-shadowed the meaning of what

I was trying to say, I realized that prayer is best,
when we recognize the fog and acknowledge it.

Snow swirls toward a whirling earth,
so that as you hear a leaf fall,

you need not ask about love.
Outside my window, bright leaves swayed

in the grayness of sky:   Some yellow, some red.
That evening when they floated toward us in your car,

we stopped, turned off the motor, stepped outside
into what soon became the redeeming moment.

The fog and the wind were coming
as quickly and as surely as my pain.  Then suddenly,

raindrops were all over us.   And just so you know,
that evening, as we sat awkwardly on the back of your car,

when you suggested how close we’d become,
I decided to forgive you.  And God—

who is, perhaps, saner than we like to pretend—
smiled down upon us all.

first published in Ann Arbor Review

Last night—thanks to Scott Owens—I read at Poetry Hickory, along with John Amen. I read from my chapbooks Gathering the Broken Pieces and Paper Snowflakes (scroll down) and newer poems from my book manuscript Prayer In the Fog (under consideration but not yet published). I also read a brand new poem, “Captured Light” from a project by the same name that isn’t published anywhere yet.

There was a small but appreciative crowd. I was surprised to see Carter Monroe (that’s his pen name) there. He said he’d come to hear me read, but he’d also come to “hang” with Tim Peeler and Ted Pope (only I didn’t know Ted was there until Scott told me). Next month Scott and Tim will be the featured readers.

That’s Scott Owens and Tim Peeler – Poetry Hickory at Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse -6:30 pm October 14.

I got a copy of Scott Owens newly published book Fractured World, (scroll down) just out from Main Street Rag and a copy of John Amen’s More of Me Disappears. Also, John’s newest CD Ridiculous Empire. Did I mention John also sang? Very nice. Very talented, multi-styled singer. Easy to listen to but sang songs that had meaning. John Amen is also the editor of Pedestal Magazine.

I also met Trisha Hart, another Mule poet. I asked her for more poems. Did I mention all of these poets have been in the Mule? Even me—back in the day, that is, before I became Poetry Editor.

Fun, fun night. Thanks to all.
**

Scott Owens in the Mule
Tim Peeler in the Mule
Carter Monroe in the Mule
John Amen in the Mule
Trisha Hart in the Mule
Helen Losse in the Mule

There were many mentions of the Dead Mule last night. Mentions of Valerie MacEwan, editor and publisher, and other Mules.

On Tuesday, September 9 at 6:30 PM, I will be reading, along with Poet John Amen, at Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse in downtown Hickory, 29 2nd St NW, Hickory, NC 28601, (828) 325-0108.

John Amen is the editor of The Pedestal Magazine and author of Christening the Dancer and More of Me Disappears.

I will be reading from my chapbooks, Gathering the Broken Pieces and Paper Snowflakes (scroll down), from my book manuscript, Prayer In the Fog, and other more recent poems.

Our readings, approximately 30 minutes each, will be followed by a 30 minute Open Mic. For additional information or to register to read in the Open Mic contact Scott Owens: asowens1@yahoo.com.

Owens, Catawba Valley Community College Visiting Writer for 2008 and Founder of Poetry Hickory, has made the Open Mic a regular part of Poetry Hickory due to popular demand. All Poetry Hickory readings are free and open to the public. For future reading see here. (scroll down)

Both John Amen and Scott Owens have poems in the Dead Mule.

For further information see the Wild Goose Poetry Review, where Owens will be joining the staff as an editor for the next issue.

Empowered to Pray by Henri Nouwen

Prayer is the gift of the Spirit. Often we wonder how to pray, when to pray, and what to pray. We can become very concerned about methods and techniques of prayer. But finally it is not we who pray but the Spirit who prays in us.

Paul says: “The Spirit … comes to help us in our weakness, for, when we do not know how to pray properly, then the Spirit personally makes our petitions for us in groans that cannot be put into words; and he who can see into all hearts knows what the Spirit means because the prayers that the Spirit makes for God’s holy people are always in accordance with the mind of God” (Romans 8:26-27). These words explain why the Spirit is called “the Consoler.”

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Quote From Thomas Merton

“Let me seek, then, the gift of silence, and poverty, and solitude, where everything I touch is turned into a prayer: where the sky is my prayer, the birds are my prayer, the wind in the trees is my prayer, for God is all in all.”

Thomas Merton. Thoughts in Solitude (New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1958): 94

**

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.

**

Then I Wander

Then I wander into the nearby woods,
where a bird sings a plaintive song from his heart,
and just as the sun plays a game of charades
with the cirrus clouds in the quickly darkening sky,
I spot a log in the water, felled, perhaps,
by the congregated beavers. A frog at the edge of the brook
is croaking, but the brook gurgles somewhat louder than the frog.
The brook flows over the rocks into the shade under the willow.
The sky is angry, ’though it won the game. And I have forgotten
the lesson of the garden: The story told by flowers.

first published in Flutter Poetry Journal

**

emphasis mine

Lawrence King, age 15, killed because he was gay.

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