This After Life

I met a woman who said

Hell is right here on earth

 She greets  each morning

In  the bookstore

Name-tag and smile affixed

While  I ponder her life

Her gray head bobbing in

Agreeable kindness

Surely this decency

Makes days for others 

Bearable – not hell

But she is waiting for

An  afterlife;  A life after this…

The crisp stillness of a frost-bitten


The murmuration of the starlings

The fire-red epaulettes of the black birds

The gifts wrought and left

From the arthritic ages of man

The quiet of the graveyard

At sunset a golden light

Hanging  the last leaves of fall

The stone-certainty of epitaphs

This life that hides

The longing to adorn

The walls

Of this hell

With beautiful



Something better

More smile-worthy

Than responsibility

And a pulse