Archive for the Helen Losse Category

The Back Story by Helen Losse

Posted in Helen Losse with tags , on January 22, 2012 by Scot

When you enter the woods,
look for tall pines,
rocks and moss beside the fading path.
If you dare to go onward,
ignore the sound of the wind
whistling through twilight’s chill.

Near the clearing for the railroad track,
few leaves still cling,
and pieces of coal—
shaken from loaded hoppers—
rest on ballast in front of decaying
Wooden box cars with balloon-letter graffiti.

Each chunk of coal waits near six
rusted oil drums, under the Full Snow Moon.
Poor, gleaning children
come just before dawn
to harvest, to gather for winter warmth.
children guard rocks like diamonds.

Then on, past first-light shadows,
where fire charred tree limbs,
a house—burned-out and abandoned—
slid downhill toward the stream.
A man escaped but later died,
body badly burned, lungs filled

with thick, black smoke.
Was the woman inside—
pregnant and seeking her way out—
the one who struck a match?
Accident or crime? We walked all night
through wooded remnants
of purposeful existence. But without

the authority of history,
how much can we actually know
of the back story?  Did the gov’t once
give reason to follow?  Is it now
past its prime?  Are citizens victims
of the American Dream?


Two Poems by Helen Losse

Posted in Helen Losse with tags on May 15, 2011 by Scot

The egg that flew out of the bush

striking the window of Carol’s car,
shatters in memory.  Carol drives

straight to the police station,
where an officer agrees to

follow us back home.  The white lilac
from which the egg flew

belongs to Mr. & Mrs. Ross,
our classmate Sherry’s

but grows close to our purple ones,

planted on the parking in front of
our houses on Jackson.  That part of

Jackson is now modified with
the word South

so delivery men and mailmen
won’t confuse now with then.


Ode to Niceness, Low & High

It all started with an essay,
and after that, the toe-image

cleaving from Susan’s flats.

The essay was all sandals v. shoes.
I think sandals are a subset of shoes.

I remember the night I first
met Susan, whose toes cleaved.

You might not know Susan,
but believe me: better her toes show

than her…. Um, . ..
Susan’s what you might call

a “lightweight upstairs.” Now
I’m not one to spread rumors,

and I don’t think a pedicure
answers life’s deepest questions.

But if a woman has nice-enough toes,
she might consider sandals,

likewise she might consider
a low-cut top, if her niceness grows

a bit further from the ground.

Shifting Paradigm by Helen Losse

Posted in Helen Losse with tags , on May 31, 2010 by Scot

The idea was to test a sound hypothesis.
They didn’t tell us what that hypothesis was.

When springtime grass began to green,
they marched us out to count the flags,
the gifts of small, red flowers
that adorned soldiers’ graves.

All day we counted, recorded
onto light green tally sheets.
Flags & flowers.  Flowers & flags.
In the evening, they marched us back.

They weren’t cruel to us—just scientific—
and as they began to serve us a hot meal,
we went back to being what we were: children.
Poppies were the only, actual touchstone

in a shifting paradigm.  But still we
couldn’t eat our whole, regular portions.
We just couldn’t.
We were thinking of Grover Pinky—

our beloved white rabbit—
newly dead in the kitchen drawer
that sad day in May.  As the albino rabbit
was placed in the dark ground

in the dim light of a cold moon
under drifting clouds that blackberry winter,
in that quiet place under a thicket of blossoming
brambles, we erected no marker as reminder.

Instead, we favored anonymity, uncounted shadows,
letting cumulous clouds float on by,
knowing anything tells the real story better than
flags and flowers, no matter what your hypothesis is.

This poem was first read for and presented to S. A. Griffin The Poetry Bomb in Hickory, NC on May 22, 2010.

Dual Perspective by Helen Losse

Posted in Helen Losse on August 29, 2009 by Scot

A fading light filters through
an open window, & from where I am,
I can see a pot of dark pink impatiens
under a layer of evening calm.  Inside,
a folded newspaper, an odd sock lay
on the glass coffee table, off to my left.

A balding man sleeps on a green chair,
his stone-cold tea—with a small wedge
of lime—forgotten, in a cup painted with
flowers the same fuchsia-color as those
already described.  A nominal breeze is
present but too slight to alter the picture.