Nature Photography

Friday Photo 01.27.23

Sometimes it’s what you don’t see…, Branford, CT by Jen Payne
Nature Photography

Friday Photo 01.13.23

When the flossers awake from hibernation too soon: a cautionary tale from our consumer society, Branford, CT by Jen Payne
Creativity flash fiction Storytelling



Last night I dreamt of my grandmother. She was sitting next to my dad toasting champagne in a luncheonette on Broad Street. You know, the kind with leather stools spinning around a counter and formica tables? I knew she’d be waiting, but the front door was locked, so I found a back entrance, pushed past the steel workers having lunch and ran to her. My heart was so full it felt like I was drowning, swallowing air and love; racing towards that hug that almost knocked us off our feet, her arms as tight as mine, holding on ‘til morning.


©2022, Jen Payne.  Photo: John’s Cafe in Portland, Oregon


Lightning in a January Sky!

Their eyes never lost touch.
They sat and talked and laughed for hours.
He reached for her hand as if he had done so every day since they last saw each other.
That familiar feeling surprised them long into the night.
They kissed.
There was lightning in the January sky.

It’s been more than 15 years since that fateful night that changed everything. How did they get there? And what happens next? Find out in WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE: A SORT-OF LOVE STORY, an epistolary novel told through a series of emails, written by Connecticut author and poet Jen Payne.

It’s a conversation, a memoir, a love story…


by Jennifer A. Payne
Memoir / Creative Non-Fiction
5 x 7, Paperback, 130 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-5-4
$16.00 (plus tax + shipping)

You can pay through PayPal using a PayPal account or any standard credit card. If you prefer the old school approach, please send your check, made payable to Jen Payne, P.O. Box 453, Branford, CT 06405.

Nature Photography

Friday Photo 01.06.23

Bryophyte in the Driveway, Branford, CT by Jen Payne

NEW! Manifest (zine) #11: Great & Small

Issue #11, Great & Small

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

As we move among the creatures of this planet — every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth — one can’t help but think of some greater force at work. Whether you call it God, Nature, or the Universe, come walk with me, meet some of my divine friends, and let’s see if John Muir was right when he wrote “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

INGREDIENTS: appropriation art, ceramic art, collaged elements, color copies, color scans, digital art, ephemera, essays, found art, found objects, found poetry, hand-drawn fonts, laser prints, original photographs, poetry, quotes, watercolor painting. With special thanks to Susan Doolittle and Mary O’Connor, and guest appearances by Ted Andrews, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Walt Disney, John Drysdale, Ogata Gekko, Ed Mazza, John Muir, Richard Scarry, E.H. Shepard, Ben Team, Brian Tomasik, Dr. E.O. Wilson, and Shibata Zeshin.

28-page, full color 5×7 booklet + Inserts and curated Spotify playlist, Cost: $8.00 or subscribe and get 4 issues for $25.00.

ORDER BY JANUARY 10 and get a free copy of THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS THE POOP FAIRY: 5 Things to Remember when You Walk in the Woods

You can pay through PayPal using a PayPal account or any standard credit card. If you prefer the old school approach, please send your check, made payable to Jen Payne, P.O. Box 453, Branford, CT 06405.

Creativity flash fiction Storytelling

Spring No More


Not that long ago, at mile marker 86.5 near East Lyme’s Pattagansett River, you could pull off the highway into a small dirt turnout, grab a container from your trunk, and fill it to the brim with cold, fresh water pouring from a natural spring. The spring was pretty popular. You’d always see a car or two parked precariously on the side of the road — traffic slowing more for the incline of the hill ahead than the waterseekers themselves. It’s gone now, save for the old turnout, replaced by a cement culvert, its condo complex runoff too foul for thirst.




©2022, Jen Payne.


A Year in Books (2022)

Creativity flash fiction Storytelling

Harry Anderson Saved My Life


Harry Anderson saved my life. At least that’s what my wide-eyed younger self remembers. The man had a gun, after all. I saw it as he paid for his coffee, hitched up under his arm. I was working the overnight, back when a girl could do that on her own. And besides, the cops watched out for me. That’s why I called them. Harry was there in minutes. Dragged the man to the parking lot. Discharged the gun in a moment of midlife bravado that almost got him fired. I never forgot it — overfilled his apple fritters every time thereafter.


©2022, Jen Payne.

Grief Poetry

Late December Bird Watch

The mourning doves are here for the winter,
eight by this morning’s count at the feeder before

eight by their count now on the slight-sagged branch
where they wait out the starlings
with hope there is something left

that galaxy of stars like a black hole
devours everything
leaves morsels for small sparrows at least
who will sneak back later to peck out
their gratitude in code on the frost

I read it sometimes, their code of thanks,
wonder if they know I timed it —
spread seeds as soon as the doves arrived,
before the stars descended with the moon

made myself large by the side door
a warning, a warrior

let them have their take, those eight
grief is a hungry thing
even the weeping is enough to lay a table bare

Poem ©2022, Jen Payne. Photo by Jennifer Snyder, Project Feederwatch

Nature Photography

Friday Photo 12.16.22

What Small World Here, Branford, CT by Jen Payne
Creativity Zine

Surprising Gift Idea (+ video)

Consider a Gift Subscription. It’s a
one-of-a-kind gift idea for the holidays!

Imagine a magazine that’s like a mini art installation. Each issue is filled with unexpected images and creative rabbit holes, poetry, quotes, a curated Spotify playlist, and so much more! 


Gift subscriptions include a custom holiday greeting/gift acknowledgement and four printed issues of MANIFEST (zine) starting with the Winter 2023 issue, Great & Small.

Nature Photography

Friday Photo 12.09.22

Late Winter Walk, Branford, CT by Jen Payne
mindfulness Musings

Monday Musing: Zen Again, Zen Again

On Friday, with only three weeks left to go before Christmas, I stopped at my local CVS for laser paper. It’s a little more expensive there than at Staples, but it’s a shorter walk, and I like to save my steps for walking in the woods and not the big box stores.

Standing in line with my laser paper and a mini Panettone — it’s the holidays after all — I realized I was going to be waiting a while. There was a long line, one open register, and a family having a serious discussion with the cashier:

Can we use this coupon? (No.)

How about this one? (No.)

Is this eye pencil sharpener on sale? (No, it’s the other one, with the case.)

Can’t you apply the sale to this one? (No.) (Did you want the lip balm that’s on sale?)

Oh yes. Hold on. Let me run back and get that.

The laser paper was getting heavy, and I almost dropped the mini Panettone. Plus I was hot now — and a little annoyed — and since the only other cashier was busy putting out the Valentine’s Day candy, I decided to leave.

Not huffy leave. Or angry leave. Just put down my things and move on to the next errand leave, practicing my best versions of Surrender and Acceptance.

Truth be told, I ended up having to do the same thing at the post office 10 minutes later. No big deal. I wasn’t in desperate need of laser paper (or that Panettone), and the letter I was mailing could post on Monday.

Since I’d saved all of that time not waiting in lines, I headed across town to one of my favorite places to walk. A trail that winds across a marsh, and up through the woods to an overlook with views of Long Island Sound and a monument to poet Jennie Vedder that reminds:

I would be one with Earth again,
and grieve not as the seasons pass,
but joyous in the pulse of grass,
exultant with the beat of rain.
I would be one with Earth again,
one with her joy, one with her pain.

It was such a pretty almost-winter day. Sunny with a nice chilly breeze. Quiet except for some lingering gulls and the Amtrak heading to New York. Perfect…marred only by the Festering I was still doing about the holidays, the lines, the people at the register back at CVS.

Then a little inner voice yelled: STOP!

You went to all that effort finding your Zen spot; you made decisions to leave the things that were not serving you; and here you are full-up with thoughts about those same things. STOP!

The thing is, we all have that choice every day. Do we sit in the muck of thoughts about this or that, or do we move on about our business? Get our shoes stuck down in the mud or walk around the edge and move forward?

But I’m not perfect, and mind-control is not my forte whatsoever…so I found that Festering’s thoughts kept trying to find their way back in again. You know, sort of in that same way your thoughts push through your moments of Meditation? Zen then Me! Me! Me!  Zen then Think Over Here! Think Over Here!

So we all sort of walked together for a while—me, my thoughts, the folks in line at the post office, and the family at CVS. Until I lost site of the family, and the post office line dissipated. My thoughts wandered off about a new writing project, and there I was — alone at last! Me and my Zen, again.

There is nothing like a walk in the woods to chase away the pesky thoughts. To reconnect you with Here and Now. To show you the way to Grace and Gratitude. And Zen.

©2022, Jen Payne


Creative Gift Ideas

A Gift Subscription to MANIFEST (zine)
is a one-of-a-kind gift idea for the holidays!

It’s like sending a mini art installation that features interesting images and creative rabbit holes, quotes, poetry, a curated Spotify playlist. Layered with colors, textures, meanings (and music), the result is a thought-full, tactile journey with nooks and crannies to discover along the way. Gift subscriptions cost $25.00 include a custom holiday greeting/gift acknowledgement and four printed issues of MANIFEST (zine) starting with our upcoming winter issue, Great & Small.


Visit our Etsy Shop to order individual issues as gifts or stocking stuffers. Each costs $8.00, which includes some cool extras and shipping. (Each Etsy listing includes a sneak preview video.)

Our Books

Perfect for the book lover in your life, consider giving a book from Three Chairs Publishing. Each comes signed by the author with a few creative extras.

Don’t Miss Holiday Expo!

Looking for a festive shopping experience? Then be sure to visit the Holiday Expo at Guilford Art Center (411 Church Street, Guilford). You’ll find many of our Three Chairs Publishing creations on display, along with ceramics, pottery, glass, jewelry, homewares, fiber art, ornaments, accessories, toys, specialty foods, stationery, leather goods and more. More than 200 American artists, makers and designers are featured in this year’s event. Click here for more information.

Thank you for your support!

Just like shopping local during the holidays, shopping at Three Chairs Publishing’s online shop has ripple effects. Your purchases help to support the women-owned printing company that prints our books, the locally-owned print shops that print our marketing materials, and the U.S. Postal Service which reliably delivers our products to your doorstep. You also help the self-employed editors, proofreaders, typesetters, artists, and tech support folks who help turn my ideas into things I can put into your hands to enjoy.

For all of that, and your continued support of my creative work, thank you. Happy Holidays! — JEN PAYNE

Memoir Poetry

Breath Counting

When sleeping with a bear
it is critical to pay attention to the breath —
his and yours.

His will tell you when it is safe
to muck about in dreams
and when it is time
to curl up and play dead.

     in this case: to feign sleep
is a practiced thing

slow     deep     breath     in

slow     deep     breath     out

slow     deep     breath     in

slow     deep     breath     out

Most nights, he’ll forget his hunger
and roll over — you pray
hands clasped around your knees
making yourself small
a burr in the blanket and of far less importance
than himself and his sleep.

©2022, Jen Payne

Nature Poetry

They’re building infrastructure in the woods

There are tractor marks in the rabbit warren,
that sweet spot on the path where the
bittersweet and grapevines arbored the trail,
where the sounds of commerce faded just enough to hear
the rabbits waiting for you to pass.

It’s bulldozed wide, now four-persons across
nevermind the rabbits
or the winter sparrows who found refuge there
or the jays who loved the grapes
or the pileated whose only recourse
is to tap out an S.O.S. on a nearby dying ash

They’re building infrastructure in the woods, you see
plowing back desperate saplings,
piling debris where the wild asters grew
flattening out the turtles’ fertile slopes

laying instead their misplaced traprock paths
and sweet-smelling lumbered bridges
giving us more room to tramp about
another ingress marked by colored flags
nailed deep into the skins of trees

Tell me please…
Will the rabbits find sanctuary before the snow?
Were the turtles buried alive?
Do the trees weep before the hammer strikes?

Poem and photo ©2022, Jen Payne


Chronos Weeps

What happened to the shape of days?

The slow unfolding of dawn, the clear delineation of time — beginning, end, respite

that marked space for pursuits of gods — Hypnos, Eros, Hephaestus. (Though rarely in that order.)

Our haloed mechanisms godlike now — omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient.

            Hey Siri: Who is Hephaestus?

And so we worship false gods, bow down to their divine scheme,

keep talismans close at hand for fear to miss their callings

their new demands of sacrifice — silence, sabbath, solitude.

I fear they’ve killed Atlas, too, left our world spinning

without the stars to guide us,

without the sun and shadow, our shape of days

and time.

Poem ©2022, Jen Payne. Photo by Scotch Mist, Head of Sculpture of Chronos in Knights’ Hall of Royal Castle, Warsaw, Poland.


Thank you.

This past year has been a whirlwind for my little publishing imprint, Three Chairs Publishing. In February, I published my fourth book, Water Under the Bridge: A Sort-of Love Story. It kicked off with a warm welcome at the Guilford Art Center on Valentine’s weekend, and was featured by the Independent Book Review as part of “45 Books We’re Excited About from Indie Presses & Indie Authors.” 

Close to my heart has been my zine project, MANIFEST (zine). I created five issues this year — WaterEndemic, Heroically Found, and The Lola Poems — each with a different tone and theme. I think that’s what I love most about the zine format. It allows my creative voice to speak its peace — maybe loud, maybe sweet, maybe rambling — hopefully always interesting.

Participation in THE EXCHANGE this past fall introduced my work to a new audience, as did a mention in the 25th anniversary issue of Broken Pencil magazine and reviews by Ken Bausert and Silver Nyx. My writing was included in Sunspot Literary Journal’s Geminga 2022 Contest for Tiny Prose, Poem, or Art, the Connecticut Bards Poetry Review 2022, and the Poetry Institute’s zine Circumference. Good stuff, right?

This Thanksgiving, I find myself thinking about good stuff like that, and about all of the people who have supported my work in 2022…from my regular zine subscribers and the folks who bought my books, to the staff at the Guilford Art Center and the Blackstone Library.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the ongoing influence of my friend and mentor, author Dale Carlson, who passed away in January. And I am ever grateful for my ongoing creative conversations with Judith Bruder, Tara Buckley, Joy Bush, Laure Noe, and Mary O’Connor.

If you’re reading this, I am grateful for you, too! I could not do what I do without your kind and generous audience. Thank you.

With love and wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!

— Jen Payne —

Nature Poetry

Osprey Sighting at Thanksgiving 2022

A lone osprey circles in the near-winter sky
bides time with the resident gulls
and wonders at the familiar landscape
now gone foreign

The sudden slow change went unremarked,
the memo of departure mislaid,
and communal cues misread

For wont of thermals, aloft now on fortitude alone
it flies along the coast — searching maybe
or reeling in the easy, quiet solitude
a spin, swoop, spiral dance

Perhaps both, like me —
a jubilant embrace belies
the ache of cold, empty air.

Poem ©2022, Jen Payne

Nature Photography

Friday Photo 11.11.22

Contrails and Train Rails, Old Saybrook, CT by Jen Payne
Nature Photography

Friday Photo 11.04.22

Is this a missed opportunity?, RWA Recreational Space,
New Haven, CT by Jen Payne
Creativity Storytelling



Last night, while I slept in the just-right bed, my feet pressed against the tower wall, the Bears came and ate what was left of the wise Scribe’s apples. His favorites, he told me, bewitchingly red and wild, but rare these late fall days.

It’s quiet enough here to hear the wings of the Crow King as he flies through the stars, but not — apparently — the sound of Bears crossing the meadow in Moonlight. It seems they ate the Mountains too, or so the Fog might tell. Tell if it could speak that is, but all I hear is birdsong.

©2022, Jen Payne.

Nature Photography

Friday Photo 10.28.22

Relatively Linear, RWA Recreational Space,
New Haven, CT by Jen Payne
Nature Photography

Friday Photo 10.21.22

Brilliant Fall, RWA Recreational Space,
New Haven, CT by Jen Payne

Friday Photo 10.07.22

Window/Gallery 7, Eli Center for Contemporary Art,
New Haven, CT by Jen Payne
Books Creativity

Looking for something to read?

I am always inspired by those life moments that move us most — love and loss, joy and disappointment, milestones and turning points. When I’m not exploring our connections with one another, I enjoy writing about our relationships with nature, creativity, and mindfulness, and how these offer the clearest path to finding balance in our frenetic, spinning world.

Very often, my writing is accompanied by photography and artwork. As both a graphic designer and writer, I think partnering visuals and words layers the intentions of my work, and makes the communication more palpable. I hope you will agree!


Banned Books Week 2022

Three Chairs Publishing

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Banned Books Week 2022 will be held September 18 – 24. The theme of this year’s event is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The ALA Office for Intellectual…

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NEW! Limited Edition Issue of MANIFEST (zine)

Issue #10, The Lola Poems

“I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats,” writes Eckhart Tolle in his book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. “Watch any plant or animal and let it teach you acceptance of what is, surrender to the Now. Let it teach you Being. Let it teach you integrity —which means to be one, to be yourself, to be real. Let it teach you how to live and how to die, and how not to make living and dying into a problem.”
THE LOLA POEMS is a limited edition, memorial issue of MANIFEST (zine) that honors the passing of my own little Zen master, Lola, by considering the lessons she taught me in our time together.

16-page, 4.25 x 5.5 booklet, Cost: $8.00 or subscribe and get 4 issues for $25.00.

You can pay through PayPal using a PayPal account or any standard credit card. If you prefer the old school approach, please send your check, made payable to Jen Payne, P.O. Box 453, Branford, CT 06405.

Memoir Poetry

Upon Meeting My Dad at the Library

I want to be the one
who sharpens the tiny pencils
tucked neatly in the cubby
next to the Library’s
digital card catalog.

They are all that’s left
of the long wooden drawers,
their well-worn finger pulls,
the alphabet instructions:
how to get from here to there.

The tap-tap-tap machines
have replaced the tactile cards,
the rhythm of sorting,
the meditations of
this simple space where

The clocks tick
and pages turn
motes settle
on memories

and there at my fingertips
as close as those pencils
he appears, my age now
this young or this old
I do not recall…

except for the moment
he said I want to be the one
who punches the clock,
works from here to there
and nothing more

nothing more
after giving so much more
for so long

but it was too late
for anything else
or anything more
than that beautiful secret
said out loud

this young or this old
I do not recall…
his whisper of a wish
the change of heart
frozen in time as

The clocks tick
and pages turn
motes settle
on memories

and now I want to be the one
who punches the clock
or sharpens the tiny pencils
or something quiet and simple
so very simple
for whatever time I have left.


Poem ©2018, Jen Payne. Reprinted in memory of my dad who left this planet 27 years ago today. 
Grief Storytelling

The Sense of Grief

Akin to the “just a bad dream” trope, my sense of grief is this: something has gone dreadfully wrong with the Universe and if I just do this ONE THING, it will all revert back to normal. One sees this frequently in science fiction and fantasy films — the heroine on a quest to find a key, a portal, a magical lever that will right the wrong. Not unfamiliar with a strong work ethic, I slip easily into the task. And the expectation. Anticipating that each effort, no matter how small or insignificant  — an action as simple as opening a door even — may be that ONE THING. Now? It’s fleeting of course. The hard weight of reality always presses firmly on sweet hope. At some point, you accept the new way of being, that empty empty space, but not without the occasional beautiful moment of Now?… weeks, months, years later.

©2022, Jen Payne

Creativity Storytelling

Sleeping on Arch Street


I slept on a cot near my grandmother’s bed in a room that smelled like eucalyptus. The aluminum frame squeaked when I moved, despite my small size and efforts to keep quiet. My grandfather slept in the adjoining room, his presence as unnerving as the Jesus portrait on the wall. The story goes he woke her once with a pitcher of water, threw it on the bed so she’d make his breakfast. I wonder if the train whistle ever disturbed him, pulled him down the tracks to the steel mill, back to the stacks and hot slag where he belonged.




©2022, Jen Payne.


Now Available! Manifest (zine): Heroically Found

Issue #9, Heroically Found

Taking its theme from the William Butler Yeats poem “A Crazed Girl,” HEROICALLY FOUND considers how we improvise as we go along “no matter what disaster occurred,” finding balance, like the crazed girl, in “her music, her poetry, dancing upon the shore.” Quoting from a variety of spiritual and creative sources, HEROICALLY FOUND posits that the way to find equilibrium in these challenging times is through mindful presence — a meditation that opens our hearts and minds to art, to poetry, and to unexpected blessings. For writer Jen Payne, those blessings often include creativity, inspiration, and beautiful rays of insight revealed during her walking meditations in the woods and along the shore. Come along and see what you can find yourself!

INGREDIENTS: appropriation art, collaged elements, color copies, color scans, colored markers, digital art, ephemera, essays, found art, found objects, found poetry, hand-drawn fonts, handmade rubber stamp art, ink jet copies, land art, laser prints, original photographs, poetry, and quotes. With gratitude to Keri Smith and guest appearances by Dale Carlson, Joseph Cornell, Ami McKay, Charles Simic, William Butler Yeats,  and more!

Special thanks to the James Blackstone Memorial Library in Branford, CT for its support of MANIFEST (zine).

24-page, full-color 5×7 + inserts, Cost: $8.00 or subscribe and get 4 issues for $25.00.

MANIFEST (zine): Heroically Found is part of THE EXCHANGE, a statewide Connecticut Artist Treasure Hunt on view, August 15 – November 1, 2022 (rain or sun). It includes GPS-tracking, QR codes, and adventuring to 15 unique public art installations by 23 participating artists. The designated sites can be accessed through a map with GPS coordinates found at

You can pay through PayPal using a PayPal account or any standard credit card. If you prefer the old school approach, please send your check, made payable to Jen Payne, P.O. Box 453, Branford, CT 06405.


THE EXCHANGE: A Statewide Connecticut Artist Treasure Hunt

I am psyched to be part of THE EXCHANGE, a statewide artist treasure hunt happening in Connecticut from now until November 1! CLICK HERE for an interactive map, GPS coordinates, and video clues from all of the artists!

SomethingProjects is launching its first project, a statewide Connecticut Artist Treasure Hunt called THE EXCHANGE, on view daily, August 15 – November 1, 2022 (rain or sun). It includes GPS-tracking, QR codes, and adventuring to 15 unique public art installations. The designated sites can be accessed through a map with GPS coordinates found at beginning August 15.

Get ready for an adventure! Plan your outing to visit the many exciting projects in which the public is invited to engage in fun and meaningful ways in the towns of: Beacon Falls, Branford, Bridgeport, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Hamden, Hartford, Meriden, New Haven, North Haven, Washington Depot, and Waterbury. Learn about these artists selected from your community by participating in the act of discovering what they have created to exchange with you.


Jeff Becker, Easton
Meg Bloom, New Haven
David Borawski, Hartford
Susan Breen, Bridgeport
Joy Bush, Hamden
Susan Clinard, New Haven
Jennifer Davies, Branford
Sierra Dennehy, New Haven
Ellen Hackl Fagan, Darien
Crystal Heiden, Milford
Allison Hornak, New Haven
Fritz Horstman, Bethany
Joe Bun Keo, Vernon/Rockville
Judith Kruger, New Haven
Susan McCaslin, New Haven
Bailey Murphy, Meriden
Adam Niklewicz, North Haven
Jen Payne, Branford
Roxy Savage, Fairfield
Max Schmidt, Meriden
Rosanne Shea, Waterbury
Kim Van Aelst, Hamden
Jo Yarrington, Fairfield

In 2022, longtime friends and artists, Howard el-Yasin and Suzan Shutan decided to partner and launched SomethingProjects: a nomadic and provisional space providing short-term exhibitions that dually highlight artists as well as introducing communities to new viewpoints and practices by state, regional, national and international artists. As an incubator for ideas it encourages artists to step outside their boundaries and experiment with the intersection of materials, production, presentation and means of engagement with audience and space. Their locations will change, and offer site-specific opportunities. For more information about SomethingProjects and THE EXCHANGE, visit

Supported by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the federal ARPA.


The Pond is Quiet Today


Did the green heron see the sign?
Or was he given advanced notice
to vacate his perch on the east side of the pond?

As he left, did he call out to the wood duck brood and mallards?
Warn the turtles, frogs, fish?

“It’s only moderately toxic they say, but I don’t want to take chances.”

(Would you?)

The swan keeps a 40-foot distance, wonders if the chemical floats downstream, wonder if it’s as harmful as the turtle who snapped up her babes last spring.

The northern water snake who often skims across the pond knows not of half-lifes or bioaccumulations.

Nor will the field mouse debate the meaning of practically non-toxic with the bees who remain.

©2022, Poem & Photo by Jen Payne


Upon the Death of a Friend, 1986

Of course you were the one to call. It was late, I remember, a rainy night like the last time we met. Cars on the wet, weathered pavement, wipers marking time. Starshine in puddles and you, light years away, saying you knew I’d want to know, knew he’d been important. You knew despite the distance in our orbits, despite our final kiss that birthed a galaxy between us. My heart. You knew.

Poem ©2022, Jen Payne. Image: Mark Plötz.