“Be sure of your intentions,”
she says to his advances.

Because I am about to devour you.

She doesn’t tell him that.
She doesn’t need to.

They are about to devour each other —

because she wants him to love her forever,
and he needs her to love him right now;

because she wants to think it will never end,
and he needs there to be no consequence.

So she is the one who asserts the first kiss,
and he is the one who leaves with her mouth in his hands.


Poem from the archives, while I work on finishing my book. Words ©2013, Jen Payne.

We Interrupt This Program


This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System
that lives in your heart space
and signals alert when
something is rotten in the state of Denmark
or the state of affairs
or the state of the union of
what you know to be true and what you imagine.

This is the sound and thunder of
riders with lanterns on horseback galloping
in your chest to sound the alarm that
something is coming —
something wicked this way comes
— some things are better left undone.

This is a warning shot across the bow
of the ship you are sailing confidently in the direction of your dreams,
because dreams can be nightmares can be pieces of delusion
neatly arranged on a plate in front of you that says EAT ME
right before you fall down a rabbit hole and break your heart
into a million piecesxxxxxxxxxxagain.

Danger! Danger! arms flailing for Will,
and for Want,
and for Lonely hiding in deep dark places
that cannot be fed by man or beast
or plates of promise and possibility.

Do Not Enter
Keep Out
Contents Under Pressure

So the pressure is on you to stay the course,
steady as she goes,
second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.

This concludes this test of the Emergency Broadcast System.

©2014, Jen Payne

Dream 010107


Are you sure?
she asks in a whisper.
Nodding, he sets
his hand against
the small of her back,
pulling her towards him
until they disappear —
falling stars

Poem from the archives, while I work on finishing my book. Words ©2007, Jen Payne.

IMAGE: Evening Star, Franz Stuck

The Times They Are A Changin’


It was, really, a rather ordinary house. Small and sufficient. Big enough for him and for her and their children at some point, I imagine. Red with white trim. A small yard out back.

He would sit on the front stoop and wave if you happened to walk by — a neighborly greeting, no matter your relation. You would often pass her on the sidewalk on your way to the Post Office right next door.

Every year, the arrival of spring was broadcast up and down Park Place by the grand display of two magnificent magnolias. Standing guard at the front walk, their canopy enveloped the home in luscious pink blossoms. Their breezes whispered of age and history and time passing…

Today, a dumpster sits in the yard, overflowing. Sections of the linoleum she wore upon at suppertime, the wallpaper from the den where he read the paper, the staircase they walked each night, together. And on either side of the front walk, two lifeless stumps broadcasting for all to see — change.

A dentist’s office I hear. Bright and shiny. Antiseptic. Ordinary.

Poem from the archives, while I work on finishing my book. Words ©2009, Jen Payne.

IMAGE: Red House, Jack Bush, 1943



I called it my “midlife crisis,” a succinct synopsis of a year that saw my entire way of being shattered and slowly rebuilt. In conversation, I needed use only those words for receipt of understanding nods from most. A good thing, as explanation would require the reassembly of emotional dreck into some illuminating narrative.

Once upon a time, it began with a moment that shook the ground at Richter Scale magnitudes…

…facades imploded, one then the next and the next, until I barely recognized the world in which I was living.

Slowly, and with little alternative, I tossed the familiar onto a pile curbside: the relevance of work, the attachment to agendas, the solitude of illusions, the complacent ennui…

…until time came, with Ecclesiastical allusion, to build up a new life. A new way of being that honored truth and authenticity, passion and connection, joy and creativity.

At a business luncheon, many months later, I sat in bold, new life regalia — the monotone conformity gathering seagulls in some past-life wasteland.

“Are you an artist?” the Senator asked as we shook hands across the table, and I smiled at the cursory classification.

“No, sir,” I wanted to say, “I am a butterfly.” But I held my tongue and nodded politely.

From the archives, while I work on finishing my book. Words and mixed-media collage, ©2008, Jen Payne.