Monday, November 2, 2015


I burned her

in the flames at Hallowtide. The vulnerable self, the puppet

of which I lost control.


And now at dawn

pale as the willow stripped

for craft by carver or weaver, she wanders back

undulating in the gray light,

upheld by  strings of rain.


Her hand motions for me to come;

her head nods with diminutive grace.

The leaves scattered beneath her

like wet shavings. Ashes dowsed by tears


that won't allow the leniency 

to love,  forgive or trust --

die on  the   eve of the dead

or any forthcoming day. She propels an after life

of her own.
Hallowtide, Samhain, Hallowseve/Halloween or whatever you wish to call the end of October into early November, has both spiritual connections to Pagan and Christian faiths. During the Celtic celebration of Samhain, people gathered around a village or tribal fire. This was the night when the veil between the living and the dead was lifted and the borders between both worlds opened. It was also a time to throw emblematic representations of your sin, illness, grief, weakness, sorrow etc. into the flames. It was a way of absolving your soul/heart of those things you saw as impurities or hindrances to your functioning life. And these emblematic things would often be dolls constructed of straw and string or figures of carved wood or molded clay,  (often called "poppets"). Here I have used the puppet or marionette to represent this woman's weakness or what she sees as her weakness. And that is being too vulnerable to love again, trust or forgive after something happened. And that "something" is left open to interpretation. But she wishes to rid herself of this perceived fault. Yet, the human spirit is not meant to become hardened, numb or totally aloof and isolated. The human condition cries out for emotion, compassion, vulnerability; and therefore, it does not die, it lives on and seeks its owner who has tried to dispossess it. And I realize that in life there are people and circumstances where the soul hardens and hates after being bruised/abused and does not recover. But in this poem, the speaker is haunted by that part of herself she tried to deny and disperse into the night air and solemn fire.


In these crossover miles...a luminous wake.

                                          Brenda Peterson

Clouds arch and dive along the skyline.

A school  of black and silver

crossing over

from night into morning.


A cool storm

rides on their backs; and women sit

(long-haired and beaded)

on a  hill  praying

for wind to portage

their sorrow,

their frailty

their anger

overhead into the flood.


An outpour that slathers

the hillside in mud

loosening rock, uprooting stumps and dry growth;

tumbling the debris

of a long season

into the canyon's pit

where carrion birds have left

a  reef of wild bones.


And  women sit on a hill

praying that afterwards

the  clouds will cross

over again- pale and calm

inversing them

of what has gone and given way to light.



Friday, October 16, 2015

The Keener

She comes with her name

rooted in ghost or grief,

shadowed by versions

of myth and tongue.


But in these cold hours

of damp

plying storm


she comes grey-eyed

in a cloak

spun of sea and fog,

lined with the song

of  coastal birds.


She makes footfall

on land once wild ,whispering

pine, thistle  and broom,


once  bagpiped

in willow reeds and water,


once the roaming

of red highland deer.


She comes flame-hearted

with her bodice

laced in lightning;


her anger tied

to their taking of the moor,


the lessening of scrub

and rocks scaled

in moss or lichen.


The ancient cairns

carted away

for lawn and leisure.


She comes weeping

for the loss

of the natural soul,

its miscarried light.


Old fires

no longer burn

on the hill,


flock and herd

graze elsewhere in the sun


and night calls on the moon

to silver bones

of those who passed

( and  were left exposed)


in the taming --

the turn-over

of time and soil.
Note -- The Keener refers to a feminine spirit that weeps
or mourns for the loss of someone or something. Often she is associated with  a banshee,
the traditional weeping lady ( found in diverse cultures) and other characters who appear
as  lamenting apparitions. In this poem, she comes to mourn the eradication of the wild
lands for corporate development ( real estate) in Scotland.

The painting called "Turn Of The Tide" by artist, John Duncan.

Monday, October 5, 2015


 ( From an old Slavic Folktale.)

In the house

there were no furnishings

to seat her,


no ripe fruit or fresh milk

to feed her,


no dry kindling or coal

to heat her.


Only green sticks

that would not burn,


a shawl

unwoven by moths,


a pigeon cage

with two birds who bitched

and would not sing.


So in a scatter

of  bitter words

I told her to leave

and unlocked the door.


Yet, after I closed it

light burned through the frame

on an overcast day;


and for some reason

with her back to the sky,

her hair falling in flame
she lingered.

The title means hope or optimism in Czech or Slavic.
 This kind of hope is almost spiritual, very tenacious and when the physical dwelling as well as the individual's spiritual house becomes bare, lacking sustenance, furnishings, and sheer force of will to endure and uphold the shelter, optimism may be discarded or "shut out". Yet, the spirit of it waits on the door step until it is asked back in. It haunts the owner never relinquishing the chance to resume its role and place in his or her life. It lingers like a burning light, a presence that can be ignored but not forgotten. And even though, people so disillusioned with life may swear at it  out of frustration/anger/shame, it remains both tolerant and merciful. But it is also stubborn and willful, intending to win out. I have taken that concept and personified it  as a feminine entity in this poem, almost angelic like.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Monk Poems

Morning To The Solitary
The tall monk stands

on the cliff pausing

from the patch  of garden that needs

his toil. His hand  a perch


for cold air clawing

at the veins --  but not with

arthritic ache,  solely

affirmation --


and to his love, he whispers

a poem of praise.


Grey gulls skim the grey water

as if to pull strands

of your  incandescent hair

 from the sea.


White flowers trail  the wind;

how beautifully the hem

of your  gown trembles

in these hours before the first

meal of black bread and cheese.


The moon is nothing now

in your presence but sealing wax

for parchment  --  on which I'd pen

these words if there were spare

calfskin and ink


but they're reserved

for writing holy text.

So here I stand among

the old stones;

and besides the old stones,

the weavers, the potters, the  bellfounders

have known  you longer than I --


but they do not cease

from their daily craft

to watch you rise, arching over the round

Cragg of Alisa


and loosening your long light

into the salted  wave. The splendor of it

stirring fish and sunken gleam

of treasure floating wild 

or tangled still in prayer's netting,

that of boyhood dreams.
 The  Ego To Her Monk

And so  you bring me here

to witness how:

 you live in a hut

 built of mud and stone,


dine on leaves of kelp

and water cress floating

among the rocks of St. Kilda,


taste wild honey sweet

off a waxen comb

crafted by bees humming

their own Salve Regina,


write verse with the stray

feather of goose or duck,


muffle your ache

with the moan of seals,

in  the waking dawn,


tie your robes with a cord

of grape vine,


and cut your hair

when it lengthens past

the ear lobe.


And so you bring me here

to say -- as temptress born

from your grate of bone

I will perish...


The turf shall become my tower

into which I   fall

earthen-deep, my white throat

consumed by worm and  beetle,


its vessel of vain song

diminished -- to the masonry

of seed and  loam,

the slow fade of sin.


And so you bring me here --

an obdurate stare, too shocked

to coax or tremble.
Note-- the lovely image is by 19th century Illustrator,
Emma Florence Harrison.


The Refugee

You ran through fields of sunflowers and corn

rustling  the dry stalks with nothing

but your light-footed haste. The last of your belongings

thrown near a startled flock of geese.


Now you lean against the green door of a rail car

waiting to board.  Razor wire scrawls its signature

along the border; and you reflect on those birds. Like you

they possess only the memory  of migration

and a shadow.  Yours outlines a slim woman with  her hair

loosely tied, a clump of tangled strands


that resembles  the roots you saw when pulling

a white flower from the soil in Syria. The plant

wasn't dying but  it seemed pointless to leave

beauty dwindling in a garden embalmed  with  heat

and ruin. You cut the stem and pressed the petals

between pages of your journal. The leather book

fallen to the  bottom of  the luggage  you abandoned .

Your poems written in graphite, and the pencil

cloaked in the lace hem of  a slip. Its gold wood  bearing

the bitten rhythm of  fear.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

September Grace

As the day ends, the sun spreads it wings

sailing west over the granite hills

and coastal village.


The first light and the last light

(one in the same )

falls through the pine branches

and the hands of those praying


at the table, in the garden

or on a fishing  boat  this hour.

Its soft  brightness pulsates

 a number of times. For some

it is seven, the seven sorrows

of  Mary.


Her beautiful head

bows in the church window.

Her blue veil  seen

from the close distance


of an old  fountain

with it stone chipped

and gauzed in spider's silk,

( all the water drained)


or the dock further down

jutting into the river

with its wood splintered

and leaves floating green

and gold as vinegar in the shallows.