art and illustration


If enchanted dark ignites my heart
and magic blooms in holy fire.
And if morning comes to break the spell
and douse the flames with chilly light,
then let me blaze one starry night.
If enchanted dark excites my heart
and Love wakes from some quiet keep.
And if morning comes to kiss and tell
that love can only be a dream,
then forever let me sleep.

*  *  *  *  *

Out to Sea in an Open Boat
We are sailors, you and I,
or perhaps more properly oarsmen
rowing, rowing each on our own side,
but perfectly in tandem,
facing backward as we must,
yet advancing toward the brightening.
Absent of a forward aspect,
we can only watch the shore’s asylum
set below the past's horizon.
You have carved a dragon into the bow-
a totem to expulse fear of the unexplored.
And I have hung wooden shields on the gunwales
all painted with runic symbols of our mystic saga.
As we pull hard against the tide,
the drab brine clears to reflect a boundless blue,
and there is a freshening on the breeze.
Perhaps we near the carrying stream 
where we can, at last, toss overboard our oars.

*   *  *  *  *

Separate Skins
How alone we are
within our separate skins,
thick, tough and unrending.
They have been sewn
to keep us severed
and held within the darkness.
Perhaps there is a tear
in the patch covering the heart.
Yet even across that opening
there is stitched sheer leather,
almost invisible,
but filtering the light.

*  *  *  *  *

Unexpected Ecstasy
I lift above this earthy pearl
and ride the wind all tilt-a-whirl.
Perspective widens as I flap my wings.
Inspiration thrills across the sky
and fancy rises as I fly -
my heart so quick with joy I have to sing.

*  *  *  *  *

Saving Grace

I woke to find this poem
alive upon my desk
and was happy to see
that you were weaved within.
Your hair inlaid the leaf.
The French curves of your legs
formed the round parts of vowels
and the decorations
drawn onto consonants.
If I caress this poem
in just that certain spot,
I can hear your laughter
enlightening its words.
And if I breathe softly
upon its metered lines,
it sighs in your sweet voice.
It sings of love to you
which is not surprising,
as every poem I find
is but another hymn
in praise of your saving grace.

*  *  *  *  *

Any Petition to the Divine for Special Consideration
No Matter How Seemingly Holy
is Just Another Janis Joplin Prayer
for a Mer-ce-dees Benz
I have approached Thee on my knees
in supplication before Thy Providence.
Sometimes I have lain prostrate
with my forehead touching the floor.
With open arms I have sent a voice toward Heaven
offering sacrifice in exchange for Thy Consideration
as to my worldly abundance.
I have sat long and deep
with bowed head and folded hands
in prayerful petition for a special portion of Thy Grace.
I have endeavored with legs crossed and eyes closed
to rid my heart of every concern
save for a singular audience with Thee.
And I have applied to solve the puzzles of koans
and unravel the riddles of scripture so that I might gain
an advantageous understanding of Thy Commerce.

*  *  *  *  *

Purposeful Love

This Love consecrates everything it sees.

It watches here a spring field
quicken into the gray-green flesh of Divinity.

And here It witnesses the river's bright water distill
into sacred blood without a defining hue.

Here It stares spellbound
as a tomato splits its fragile skin,
transcending into Holy fire
and tinting all of Heaven with its ruddy flame.

And here It beholds a peach blossom
bursting into paradise
as a pink-pink galaxy blooming at
the commencement of the world.

*  *  *  *  *

Good Intentions at Christmas
Tis the season
to celebrate my good intentions.
But the needle still points to zero.
Good intentions, although worthwhile,
are not quite enough.
A tiny bit more is asked . . . but barely anything-
just the slightest willingness to advance the needle
one infinitesimal tick into the positive measure.
A microscopic movement toward forgiveness
slams open the gates of heaven.
The teeniest twitch of unclenching fingers
unwraps the gift of an entire universe.
An almost imperceptible unfreezing of the heart
by the fraction of a single degree
warms worlds upon worlds upon worlds.
So much is offered for so little-
just the slightest willingness to advance the needle
one infinitesimal tick.
And yet I remain content as ever

to celebrate my good intentions.

*  *  *  *  *

This Walk Began
This walk began when the efflorescence
were but buds commencing on the ends of branches
although the infinite story of flowers
had forever been blooming within.
You passed me fast and without a glance,
but your prayer was loud, “catch up!”
My heart flurried as a leaf in a current;
my skin flourished as with rosy life.
And I did catch up
even though I had already been up ahead
and had just come back to meet you
so that we might blossom together along the trail.

*  *  *  *  *

You do not wear
a ring
set with a single



from dead center
along the spectrum
of jewels.
You wear, rather,
a necklace
strung with every 
along the infinite extension.
And even the

red and purple

surrounding the clasp
are treasures
beyond conception.

*  *  *  *  *

Prismatic Drops
Bejeweling a Spider Web


A spider weaves to trap a meal,

but lacks the faculty to feel.

He goes about arachnid life

and can’t compare accord with strife.


A web of dreams we humans tie

to snag the Love as it beams by,

Our knotty rig allows ascent,

but no escape from discontent.

*  *  *  *  *

Song for an Uprooted Pine

From this hill,
I fly.
I grew,
but the artifice is finally through.
Yet, I tower in the wind tonight.

Like wings,
Great Mystery moves my limbs.
I leave behind such meager lights;
their colors flicker
cold and dim.
From this hill,
I grew.
I fly.
I stretch my branches to the sky.

My Heart awake and evergreen,
spreads wide outside this verge of night.
I quicken toward
a morning star
and wonder why
it shines so bright?

*  *  *  *  *

Christmas Benediction
May You be home if an angel comes knocking
May a star consecrate in Your night
May You unearth all the treasures of wisdom
May Your smolders of love reignite
May Your prayers fly beyond the hard margin
May Your blessings heap up as the snow.
May peace lullaby Your commotion.
may You rest in a warm Christmas glow.

*  *  *  *  *

That Kind of a Day
It has been a spell since I’ve had a really good day.
One that I know is charmed even as it’s happening
and gratitude flows naturally from the spring.
Oh yes, I have adopted the discipline
of endeavoring to notice all the wonders around me
for which I should be grateful.
But I’m talking about one of those days
where grace drenches me
and contentment is no work at all.
You may establish that grace is always teeming.
And I would agree with you.
Occasionally though, there is a gift of a miraculous day-
A delicious gourmet dinner of a day
with warm bread, a bottle of wine and all the accoutrements,
so there’s not even a dish to wash.
That kind of a day.

*  *  *  *  *

If I Could Become

If I could become the snow,
upon the hardened brow I’d light.
I’d blanket berm and battlefield
with tranquil wisdom, cool and white.

If I could become the night,
I’d dim this daydream’s savage scene.
I’d soften every sharpened edge,
reveal a vision more serene.

If I could become the fire,
I’d spread my fingers wide apart.
I’d melt each breastplate, sword and shield
and forge together ever heart.

*  *  *  *  *

All those months ago
you assigned me the task
of removing you from my poem.
Finally, I have found the gumption
to pick up the eraser
and begin editing.
Ten thousand adjectives
each a synonym for beauty
are excused from duty.
emboldened and italicized,
now lean toward evanescence.
Every verb
in the future tense is obliterated
as I rub you into a ghost.

*  *  *  *  *

According to Japanese legend,
an invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.

The Red Thread

I look out at last night's snow
sparkling and so very white in the sun.
The entanglement of oak branches
is a gorgeous, soft chaos.
The spruce are drooping
but proud in their bright, bright cloaks.

My window frames a sublime beauty
which even the brushes of Hokusai or Hiroshige
could barely touch in their portraits
of an absolved, refreshened world.
I have mined the internet for copies of their woodblock prints
and have sewn them together
with red silk thread into an album
 . . . as I have stitched memories of you
into a sacred treasury within my heart
yet with the invisible red thread from heaven’s skein.

I flip through the leaves as always,
but today I'm savoring one delicious chapter of winter.

Here's you prancing like a deer through drifts along the river.
Your smile out-blazing the sunlit snow-
is framed in a fur lined pilot's hat.
Your finger is on the trigger of the Canon
about to blast one frozen moment into the infinity of Truth.

Hokusai or Hiroshige have nothing on you.

And here's one of us sliding that impossibly heavy
stainless steel clad table
across a carpet laid upon the snowy sidewalk
and into your studio.
A glorious triumph
assigned only to the Faith we could make it across.

I trace the red thread
woven through my consecrated volume.
So many empty pages.
So many I wish could yet be illustrated.
And every day . . .
one more.

*  *  *  *  *

Totally Naked
in an Empty Moonlit Room
The space within these bare walls sings.
This vacant hardwood blooms.
A thief made off with everything.
But she could not steal the moon.

*  *  *  *  *

Type Two

and here again are the celestial characters
arranged into the constellation of your name
so silent yet commanding of my attention
I move the tiny pictogram of my finger across those stars
but it can never really touch their warmth
only point in the direction of their light

with a click we are circling in a far fragile orbit
nary a risk of crashing and burning
a controlled apogee and perigee
intimate yet so distant and easily retreated
a day's neglect and the ellipse distorts
a week's and every bonding force is broken

it's not that we're in truth remote
our typings detour deep into space and back
to traverse a five minute crow's flight
it's a chasm uncounted in planetary miles
but a reach to be pondered and wondered
and measured by unfathomable infinities within the heart

*  *  *  *  *


As I pull on these socks you made for me
I am delighted to discover how much of you
is remembered within them.

Perfectly designed
neither dainty nor delicate
certainly not decorative icons to be admired from afar.

Forthright in their function
alluring in their form
and generous with their warmth,

they are to be slid into and worn
my feet sighing in their entwine
fitting even better than a glove.

Dyed in the wool
with the lusciousness of earth
and exquisite in their aspect,

this pair was well made to hold their shape
confident in their protection
self-assured in their providence.

Ah, they do remind me of your hair
flocculent and charged with your power
enticing my fingers and toes to their touch.

And I wiggle my toes inside their wool
rich with the lanolin of memory and regret
your eyes, your lips, your laugh . . .

Beauty was but shapeless fluff
before it spun through you
and forever stitched itself upon my heart.

.  .   . and into these here socks.

*  *  *  *  *

You Rock

Your heart is an amp
Plugged into the outlet of Heaven
And cranked to 10,
An old Marshall singing warm and loud
Blasting the lead lines of Love
to the very walls of this infinite hall.

Your music is not soft arpeggios
Plucked on an angel's harp
Tinkling in the background
And sweetening an afternoon.
No, yours is a power chord strummed
On God's own Stratocaster,
A delicious, exuberant thunder
Shredding under the stars.

You definitely front every band
Stealing any show you wish to play.
Your rendition rivets my audience,
Inspiring me to dance,
My arms in the air,
My hands wholly open.
Me singing along in spite of myself
Somehow knowing all the words.

*  *  *  *  *

Regained Memory

Did you forget when we could soar?
Hand in hand we'd blithely fly
All those long-long worlds before
Through Heaven's bright and starless sky.

Oh look how cumbrous we have grown!
And heavy with our separate things.
A drape of dreams we've tightly sewn
Around our clenched and useless wings.

Yet feel these Holy feathers twitch?
Remembering, we meet once more.
The drape is rended stitch by stitch
And holding hands again, we soar.

*  *  *  * *

A  Brief History of Timelessness                                                                    
“The only reason for time is so that
everything doesn’t happen at once.”
                              - Albert Einstein

Perhaps though,
everything is happening at once.
It’s all bursting into existence,
even as it’s ending.
And we’re all falling into slumber
even as we’re awakening
from this very timely dream.

*  *  *  *  *

awake at long last
bereaved slumber forgotten
willows gleeful tears

*  *  *  *  *

A Thousand Homes

To dodge the wind and driving rain
A thousand homes you've made in vain
Yet till the end . . . and from the start
You're safe and sheltered in my heart

*  *  *  *  *

or How Bob Dylan predicted my future . . . sort of

I sit here in the crowded cabin of a Spirit Airlines Airbus 319 - flying to Memphis.
Out the window there’s a mushroom shaped cloud
Beautifully lit and colored by the late afternoon sun
It truly resembles the explosive pother of an atom bomb.

Between the rows there comes that familiar squeaking of cart wheels, the disciplined bustle of service
And the repetitive, yet random clocking of ice cubes into plastic cups -
As the flight attendants pour meager servings of Dr Pepper and Ginger Ale
To slake the thirsts acquired in this, our high peregrination.

I, because of  a last minute actuation, was of course assigned a middle seat.
The woman next to me on the aisle has carried a hoagie onboard.
It spices the spare, recycled air with the intense incense of onions.
The man in the window seat is aslumber
With his leg stretched hard across the tiny domain deeded by my ticket -
A territory already brimming with my carry-on camera bag and a bonsai to symbolize . . . hopefully,
The careful re-pruning of a Love lost in the tangle.
Onward we fly toward Memphis. Each brooding in that quiet patience of plane travel.
A sudden crackle of the intercom and a nasally voice from on high rivets our attention.
The captain announces  that severe weather is pounding Memphis International
He informs that we have been diverted into a holding pattern
Over Mobile Regional Airport  . . . just in case.

Yes, just in case.  But for now, this holding pattern;
A synonym for the one in which my affection is circling and unsure of its approach.
We spiral around and around resigned in the anticipation of an as yet undetermined landing.
Altitudes and attitudes rising and dropping
To accommodate the commotion of an interrupted adventure.
Nothing to be done but abide the unfolding. Will we; won’t we? Will she; won’t she?

But a holding pattern can only last so long
Eventually the weather clears and we land happy in our harbor of affiance,
Or fuel runs so low that the decision is dictated by neither hope, nor prayer, nor promise,
But by an inhuman gravity.
And then, stuck inside of Mobile with naught but my camera and my tiny tree carefully bobbed in vain,
I’d wait at the carousel to retrieve my heart, over the weight limit and packed to the breaking
With those Memphis Blues . . . again.

*  *  *  *  *

Rainy July Morning in Tinicum

Up Early
On my back porch
Rainy day
Soft soft rain
A mist really
Critters are quiet . . .  even the chatty birds
One lone far-off crow complaining
Slightest whisper of trees delighting in the gentle aerosol
Quieter even than outright silence
Rumi said, “Silence is the voice of God, all else is poor translation.”
God is singing beside me then this morning
In our yellow rocker
Sharing my coffee

Peaceful yet haunted
Joyful yet lonely
I miss You

Distance is a dream
And time
And division
And rainy July mornings in Tinicum
But I am only an improvisation
Of dreams

*  *  *  *  *

                    Colloquies from my Hermitage - June 28, 2015

As I awaken, the murder of crows, whom I count in my circle of  familiar companions here at the hermitage, are rather quiet. Every so often, one comments as to the coolness of a morning in late June, or extols the stillness of the leaves in the sweet, damp air sans any trace of breeze. But another bird, a new friend, has been singing incessantly since daybreak. Her song is distinct and clear and one to which I assign the vocable, “video.” T'is a triplet which she triple chants; video - video - video! 

Perhaps it’s a lonesome plea for lost love, if love is what you en-name the erogenous coupling of birds . . . and I do call it love because even the evolutionary imperative described by science in terms of endocrines, pheromones, hormones, or any other line of yet undiscovered mones is primally moved by Love. Some might wish to substitute the word, Nature, and I won’t quibble, the two terms being synonymous except within the man-made margins of disciplined courses attempting to define animations beyond definition. 

Or maybe her relentless trill is a psalm of gratitude for this very chance to express the Infinity and Eternity of this very existence squeezed through one, tiny avian life. 

head quiet . . .  hands empty . . . heart overflowing . . . on the good days.

*  *  *  * *

art and illustrations

ignited - poems, stories and songs by Edward F. Petersen. Text and images © All rights reserved.
All content is subject to U.S. and international copyright laws.
Please email: edwardpetersen23@gmail.com for permission before use.