7 Years: With Heartfelt Gratitude

Today, I am celebrating my 2,555th day as a non-smoker! Here, seven years later, it may feel effortless, but I will tell you that quitting smoking was the hardest and bravest effort of my life.

It was something I could only do by myself. And yet something that required the full support of everyone I knew. I remain forever grateful to each and every one of them.

They…you…saved my life.

With love,



Who is the interloper
who greets me this morning?
Did I leave the door open?
A window, perhaps?
Is that how you arrived,
took up residence,
demanded smile
and surprise
before sun?
I do hope you’ll
stay awhile,
share the
first stretch of
and news of Alice.

Poem and photo ©2016, Jen Payne

Queen of Hearts

Her first young lover
met his demise
by a minor infraction,
a hapless flight across
some makeshift boundary
that set off red flags
up and down her continent.

Much less invasive
than the hostile takeover —
a coup of confidence
and continent,
that four-year conflict
ended by wits and
furtive escape.

And certainly better outcome,
than the suicide of
her white-flag surrender
of voice and dreams,
both left for dead
at the feet of Security.

But at night, now, she hears
the drumbeats of Unity,
wonders at those reckless days
when she could fight about lilliputia,
leave while cracking a smile —
this delicate détente of Love
is not for the faint of heart.

Poem ©2016, Jen Payne. Image Queen of the Heart by Jyoti Bhatt.