HEL the Norse giantess—fingernails long and clawed, encrusted with loam,
tosses her smoking hair tangled like gnarled tree roots.
She dances life: dances death in a whirlwind of ice and fire.
The underworld shudders, contracts, breaks open like ripe fruit
spewing seeds of life through worm tendriled soil.
Helheim is a vast mansion, its rooms dark as wombs.
There’s room enough for every person
Who was ever born under the sun blanched sky.


Hell must be a fix-it-upper, a house torn apart in a hurricane of remodeling,
never to be finished.
Hell is like a novel endlessly polished until it’s smooth as polished quartz—
the words all rubbed away.

What to do? Look past the dishevelment of the house,
take comfort in the cat asleep on its armchair, in vanilla flavored coffee,
in sunlight casting a prism on the wall.

Inhaling, exhaling, I grapple breath and release it.
Happy endings are elusive as a moon shadows.
Most stories are open-ended with ragged resolutions
but hope is the fulcrum that holds all in balance.


is a smorgasbord of taste, sound, fragrance, color—
Sashimi sushi, Ethiopian vegetables, Nan bread, enchiladas and tiramisu.
72 vestal virgins wearing coin belts belly dance to Freddie Mercury and Prince.
Bagpipes contend with banjoes and harpsichords, Bluegrass and Mozart.
The air is incense: musk and lavender, aloe and cinnamon—
all the chief spices.

Everyone wears a mask—Chinese lacquer or carved bone, Mycenaean gold,
Birch bark streaked with ochre…

Each time the music changes we rotate masks—handing off our old one,
accepting another. Our hands are gloved.
We wear mummers’ robes, rainbow hued and threaded with gold.
Soon we can no longer remember the color of our skin
or individual faces.
Viva la fiesta!


Autumn comes with a yearning—imperceptible at first—
a coolness that tingles bare skin.
a sudden hush of wind inviting anticipation.
Colors become hilariously vivid and alive—
the dusty green of summer erupts into gold and russet,
over-ripened fruit shatters as it falls on frosted ground.
Birds eat greedily, spiders glut on frantic flies
in a final feeding frenzy before winter casts it sleeping spell.
The Bacchanalian glamour draws you into this drama of life and death.
Soon you lose yourself in the whirlwind; find yourself
standing on your head giddily drunk with the blood-red wine.
Abandoning caution you find the strength
to make the dark, tortuous journey toward rebirth.
Vertigo flares as you tumble down a rabbit hole.
Hoping you will land cat-like on your feet,
you trust in the promise of spring.

catch and release.

A time to stop forcing a round box into a square corner.
Time to sort through the contents, discard the clothes two sizes too small,
Time to scrub your hands with lye soap so only bare skin remains.
Time to put on a rubber suit and let insults slip away like water off a duck’s back.
Time to let grit explode in spontaneous combustion
So only the bedrock of the soul remains.
Time to turn loose of last year’s autumn leaves
Time to fill your hands with starlight.
Time to divide iris rhizomes; plant tulip bulbs,
Time to chop down insidious elm saplings.
Time to take two steps forward, one step back—the medieval pilgrim’s walk.
What is autumn anyway but just another station on life’s pilgrimage.
We move with slow, measured, but inexorable steps
Toward both beginning and end.

Published in Poems