August 31 at 50

And now you are gone again,
this moment on this day……gone
for almost as long as I knew you.


every formative year countered
in near equal measure for each one apart,
every lockstep moment faded
by the passing of tides and time,
until I become you.

Until I become you
in that standstill moment—
this age, this midway —
your celebration then
as familiar as my yesterday

now a present, now mine
to walk without impression.

Poem ©2016, by Jen Payne, daughter of Henry C. Payne.

What Remains

When I was nine
my parents parked
outside the plaza card shop
on a hot June day
so I could buy a present.
My sister stayed in the car.

The shop smelled like paper.
There was a back room,
separated by a beaded curtain,
where you could find gifts:
candles and wooden owls,
macramé and pottery.

The candleholders I bought
were avocado green
and hot pink —a pair,
two, like my parents.
It was their 10th anniversary,
and we were celebrating.

How funny to find them
after all these years,
candleholders in a dust-covered box
with hard wax held fast,
like memories
and how things used to be.

Poem ©2016, Jen Payne, National Poetry Month, 28.

Dad, Guess What!

On the 20th Anniversary of Your Death I can almost hear the sound of the mailbox, feel the gravel driveway beneath my feet as I raced inside to call you. “I got accepted to…” I squealed, so excited to share the little successes as they arrived 30 years ago, before college, graduation, the accident. There […]