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“Poetry lovers will surely delight in Seriously Dangerous, Helen Losse’s latest collection of deftly sculpted lyric poems. Throughout this volume of 47 mostly short works, Losse reveals a sensibility that is at once intensely spiritual and concrete. Rooted in the natural world and often exhibiting abundant painterly detail, Losse’s poems are eloquent statements about life in the body—both individual and the collective. Life in its myriad private and public scenarios undergoes a thorough exploration, which the poet expresses with economical, sometimes deadpan, frankness as in the mordant poem, “Spin, Spin, Spin”:
People with crosses have
We know that most are dangerous,
except for the chosen few
God actually likes.
“To read Helen Losse’s poems is to savor an eloquent voice. Nowhere is this voice more contemplative than in “Where Light is Going”:
It would be easier to speak as others believe,
not to feel the ocean’s intentions nor to sense
the pull of the moon. Grace abounds in ocean,
in flotsam, in rich sea foam, floats in earth’s
swirling dust . . . .
Ultimately, Seriously Dangerous embodies mindfulness of the connectedness of all things and of the urgency for each of us to be open to what is without forgetting what has been.”
Many thanks to Maria Garcia Rouphail, who is on the English Department faculty at North Carolina State University, where she teaches in the World Literature program
I can see Martin.
On that balcony.
Hosea. Jesse. Martin. Ralph.
But you will say,
my mind is playing tricks.
That was the night before,
he gave that speech
to those garbage men,
going to Mason’s Chapel in pouring rain,
tired as he was.
Sure he would march.
But who would guess,
his final speech
would come in Memphis?
The baritone softly hums “Precious Lord,”
and he smiles.
That was the day
I can see Martin.
At that Negro motel.
He throws out his chest,
waves his hand as he speaks,
into the nip of an April twilight,
perhaps picturing his “four little children”:
a robust man, he tells
of what he sees atop the mountain—
in the land beyond,
in the view.
“Oh! . . . ”
The bullet pierced its intended,
and Ralph gently cradled
Martin’s dying head. Who, now,
will choose redemption,
suffering—to implement the dream?
I see Martin carried.
From the Lorraine.
A widening pool of still-warm blood
Helen Losse, “Making All Things New: The Redemptive Value of Unmerited Suffering in the Life and Works of Martin Luther King Jr.,” MALS thesis (Wake Forest University, 2000).
Today is Poem In Your Pocket Day. Today I am NOT going out to share the contents of my pocket. In fact, the pants I am wearing right now have no pocket. What to do? What to do?
My virtual pocket to the rescue, here is the poem I’d put in my pocket, if I had a pocket.
Six Degrees From Rain To Rainbow
The rain left a puddle by the porch.
A dog drank from the puddle,
then watered a bush—
leg high. Drained, the dog left, ran
to the corner store, where a man
carried a jug of juice—
mostly water. The dog frightened
the man, and he dropped the jug,
spilling the juice.
April has its meaning in water—
in the showers that fall
in anticipation, in the colors that
make for us a rainbow in the puddles
of life. Orange water in the sun.
Spectrum glowing in the puddle.
Rain, dog, man, juice, sun, and rainbow.
See, it’s only six degrees from rain to rainbow.
Comments are welcome. It’s a work in progress.
The only true joy on earth is to escape from the prison of our own self-hood (I do not say the body, because the body is God’s temple and therefore it is holy), and enter by love into union with the Love Who dwells and sings within the essence of every creature and in the core of our own souls.
Thomas Merton, Seeds of Contemplation, (Norfolk, CT: New Directions Books: 1949) p. 22.
I keep the LORD always before me; with the Lord at my right, I shall never be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure (NRSV PS 16: 8-9)
…before sunrise, without lights, in the … chapel. At such a time there is a beautiful “spirituality” in the pre-dawn light on the altar. Silence in the chapel, and this pearl-gray light on the white altar cloth. Two candles burning with silent life. What more beautiful liturgical sign than to have this light as witness to the greatest Mystery?
Merton, Thomas. Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander. New York: Image Books, 1989, p. 270
I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord. (NRSV Ps 118: 17)
When we love God’s will we find Him and own His joy in all things.
Merton, Thomas, New Seeds of Contemplation. New York: New Directions, 1961, p. 124
Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with loud songs of joy. (NRSV Ps 47: 1)
Silence helps draw together the scattered and dissipated energies of a fragmented existence. It helps us to concentrate on a purpose that really corresponds not only to the deeper needs of our own being but also to God’s intentions for us.
Merton, Thomas. Love & Living. Naomi Burton Stone and Br. Patrick Hart, Editors. New York: Harcourt. 1979, p. 42
But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” (Ps 31:14)
Sunrise is an event that calls forth solemn music in the very depths of man’s nature, as if one’s whole being has to attune itself to the cosmos and praise God for the new day, praise Him in the name of all the creatures that ever were or ever will be.
Merton, Thomas. Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander. New York: Image Books, 1989, p. 280
But we will bless the Lord from this time on and forevermore. Praise the Lord! (NRSV Ps 115: 18)