Archive for the Helen Losse Category

Helen Losse

Posted in Helen Losse with tags on June 16, 2022 by Scot


My Dark Woodland Retreat

I arrive at Foxtrot Park
just after six,
lock the car,
and slip keys into my jacket
pocket. The trail from
Parking Lot A
follows the river.
Tree trunks are black
against a marine blue sky.

Near the shore
reds and purples
dance on water.
A rippling current
beneath the footbridge
sings a verse from
a lyrical ballad.
A sudden breeze
cyclones the smell of algae.

The path suddenly turns upward,
becomes rocky.
Fewer ferns from its edges
tickle my legs.
I stumble in half-light,
cut my knee
on a jagged protrusion.
Sharp pain pulsates
not from my leg but my heart.
Thoughts of Jesus
hanging from His cross
help me hone my prayer.
God bids me wait in unlit shadows —
alone with Him
for as long as it takes—
for the Spirit
to set my heart ablaze
like the noonday sun.

Body and mind tailspin by Helen Losse

Posted in Helen Losse with tags on August 9, 2020 by Scot


back to the bracelet Lonnie gave me
and how in years to come
guilt led me to throw it away.

Lonnie and I met when we were four.

He was a shy boy,
who continued to be shy
when we were no longer children.

I’m sure his mother, who battled cancer,
chose the bracelet for the Sunday School gift exchange.
Lonnie himself asked to borrow my botany notes.

He’d missed class often during his mother’s illness,
yet I said, “no” to his Sunday-morning request
and used the notes as planned: to ace the test.

Lonnie put a gun in his mouth on Monday.

When I search for a stone pelican by Helen Losse

Posted in Helen Losse with tags on November 15, 2019 by Scot


to put in my flower-decked yard,
I find my money buys only plastic
flamingos in a familiar shade of pink—

not quite “sunset-blush pink”
or “pink-rose beauty”—
close, but hardly a symbol of inspiration.

I love the rosiness of petal-like feathers
yet perhaps seek mostly to smooth
unremitting edges. Meanwhile, God

extracts thorns and barbs to remake me
into a flower more lasting than a rock
polished by rushing waters.

Jesus Did Not Come by Helen Losse

Posted in Helen Losse with tags on November 27, 2016 by Scot

When things go wrong,
“they” act on their own experience
sometimes as former church-hoppers,
most often protestant. They call us
christians who are not “real Christians”
and hypocrites. They try to make us
judge who is and isn’t genuine.
Do they do this because “they are hurt?
We, too, are hurting. Do “they” think
the world’s ills do not concern us, too?
Everyone has been disillusioned, hurt,
forced at some point to buy bottled water
when no fresh supply gurgled from dry earth.
What I think they mean is, listen to this.
And yes, “they” are right, we should all listen
both to each other and to God. We should act
on what we know. History matters.
They should know we must include “they.”

There is a tenderness within us all,
but not all tenderness is visible.
Some keep their tenderness hidden.
Tenderness also resides in Jesus,
who was, in fact, the most tender man
of all. Remember the picture of Him
with those lovely children, those tiny lambs?
Yet God never said that tenderness
and understanding alone could save us
from either hell or each other.
What Jesus said was,
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,
Follow me, Eat my flesh, and then only
to His disciples—Will you leave me, also?—
for the mob disbanded because His way
became hard to follow. Jesus did not come
to bring peace to all who live upon the earth,
at any cost, now. Without both our faith
and works, He brings violence
like the shifting of bones.

Life of a White Child by Helen Losse

Posted in Helen Losse with tags on August 3, 2016 by Scot

In the “Good Old Days”
when she was three,
Daddy slid down the pole
with her in his arms and
bought Juicy Fruit gum
from the firehouse machine
for them to share. Neither
Daddy nor Mummy told her
about the savage murder
and the dead family’s bodies
found stuffed down a well
not far from their house
that prompted Daddy
to find other work.

One day on the way home
from Jimmy’s Koffee Kup Kafe
where she got a single-scoop
of ice cream in flat-bottom cone,
Daddy talked with a black
motorcycle cop.
Like other five-year olds,
she’d never heard the word “lynch”
and certainly didn’t know blacks
had been “driven from town”
like cattle, packed
onto a north-bound train.

She never wondered,
even in high school,
why Joplin had so few black people.
She hadn’t read the books
or seen archived articles.

She lived the life of a white child,
her yoke light, moon-glittered
like the world beneath the stars.

NC Poet Laureate by Helen Losse

Posted in Helen Losse with tags on March 9, 2015 by Scot

—for Shelby Stephenson

It’s sure to be cold
at your inauguration
in Raleigh. Early in February,

it might even rain. You’ll
shine, dressed for the occasion,
complete with umbrella,

but I choose to picture you
in front of that old plankhouse,
red clay under bare toes,

gardens of potatoes, rows of
tall corn. Watermelon.
Maybe a chicken or two.

My heart is a gypsy-hillbilly;
she embraces your folklore. We
laugh, laugh, laugh, for the joke is

on us. Yes, the joke is on us.
And hardly just the two of us. No,
all who join in. So maybe it is

my Muse, who wants to dance,
while you fiddle and sing
in the slow-lifting fog.

haiku by Helen Losse

Posted in Helen Losse with tags on July 8, 2014 by Scot

A brilliant haiku
is nothing but a good
first line for a poem.


Salt-Water Church by Helen Losse

Posted in Helen Losse with tags on March 26, 2014 by Scot




The salt-water Atlantic lies over that ridge.
I am here to soak in the sea—
to cleanse my soul & wash myself

of the detritus. Earth has become
a place that takes so much
from me and gives so little back.

I walk toward the water’s edge,
flip-flops in hand. I dip one toe in.
Baptized, I remember the beach

was the sight of Jesus’s last fish fry—
the one after He cried
the loneliest cry in all the world.

Parting Wounds by Helen Losse

Posted in Helen Losse with tags on June 28, 2013 by Scot

–for Valerie

Sometimes looking back,
we see details we missed:

monsters swim in a glass of water
that sits on the table between us. Yes,

several jealous demons we should have
beaten until dead appear in sweet tea.

Our parting—an incident both tragic
and inevitable—is due only in part

to cruel and tragic words I can never
un-speak. There were hints I should have

heeded, sheets we should have stripped
from the bed, laundered and aired

in the sweet southern breeze
months ago.  Through life’s changes—

health, power, and inevitable loss
of our mothers’ unique wisdoms—

two southern women have become,
perhaps, too tired to overcome pain

that stands where they once danced
in sisterhood, sweater-clad.

Some days turn out better than others.
Some days I utter words I should never

have spoken. Some days a hurricane
smashes the land.

My mother died in March, you know,
but I  learned from FaceBook

we were undone. Our parting wounds
became a second death, a second need

for freedom to grieve. Yes, time provides
space between events;  it guarantees us

nothing more. But looking forward
instead of back, I still choose to love you.

Two Poems by Helen Losse

Posted in Helen Losse with tags on August 4, 2012 by Scot

There’s “nothing new under the sun,”

and not much beneath
the silver-laced moon.

Try as I may to pen
an original image

the tattoo on the arm of
Johnny Depp is about

as far as Facebook
leads me.  Despite

declarations of faith,
my imagination thirsts

in the valley beneath Death’s
shadow & further away than

Utah, where one copy of
my latest chapbook is lost

due to human error.  Sure
God will lead me.

But have all the trains
driven into the sunset

(or moon glow) with
hobos in boxcars?

All the ball teams have
claimed the good animals

as mascots, leaving us poets
writing the same poem

over and over again.

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