The Time Has Come…to Celebrate 7 Years!

the time has come, the Walrus said,
(Time Peace, May 2010)

to talk of many things
(Everyone Has a Story, October 2016)

Of shoes
(Lady Poet, March 2015)

and ships
(Uncharted Territory, June 2015)

and sealing wax
(Fate Sealed, October 2014)

of cabbages
(An Eastern Meditation, August 2012)

and kings
(Spirit Woods, May 2011)

and why the sea is boiling hot
(Blessed Places, May 2013)

and whether pigs have wings
(In which Alice falls and we wonder, December 2014)

THANK YOU FOR following along on the adventure that is Random Acts of Writing, and the meandering “many things” we’ve talked about. I feel very blessed to have had such a supportive and creative community in which to share my musings for the past seven years, and look forward to more good things to come!


PHOTO ©2016, Jen Payne, Walrus and Carpenter display at House on the Rock, Spring Green, WI. Text from “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” a narrative poem by Lewis Carroll that appeared in his book Through the Looking-Glass.

Nuisance Species

There was an over-population they said

current world population 7,482,331,668

such overabundance can lead to excessive noise

there is absolutely no place on Earth that is completely free from human sound all of the time

and an increased risk of disease

incidence of common cold: 62 million cases per year

DRC-1339 was the antidote,
causing the congestion of major organs
a slow, 12-72 hour “nonviolent” death

but it sounded violent
thud, thud, thud

and it looked violent
dead birds dropping from trees

a galaxy of feathers
shimmering on the pavement
iridescent in the afternoon sun

It’s OK, said the nice man from the USDA, smiling
It’s not harmful to humans…

Just the star-lings
in flight, celestial
their cosmic communal dance,
the breathtaking murmurations
of a species that

But any dead bird can be picked up and thrown in the trash,
just remember to use disposable gloves or plastic bags.

Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide.

Plastic constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.

One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.

“We recommend…that improved baits and baiting strategies be developed to reduce [such] nuisance populations.”— Managing Vertebrate Invasive Species, National Wildlife Research Center, 2007

POEM ©2017, Jen Payne. PHOTO by Tim Felce (Airwolfhound). SOURCES:; The last place on Earth without human noise, by Rachel Nuwer, BBC; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Center for Disease Control; Journal of Wildlife Management; “Dead birds dropping from a tree in West Springfield causes community unrest,” WGGB/WSHM; Audubon Field Guide; “Starlings,” A Passion for Nature by Jennifer Schlick (; Wikipedia; “The Controversy Over Controlled Poisoning Of Starlings ,Here and Now; “22 Facts About Plastic Pollution,” EcoWatch (; National Wildlife Research Center.

Ekphrastic Rabbit: An Out of Body Experience

Some might see the artist’s intention.
Cold War Germany via taxidermy—
it rhymes at least.
The rest is explained shorthand in chalk
there beneath my stuffed and stiffened body,
something about the temperature and Eurasia.
It’s difficult for me to see from my vantage point, really,
but better to face forward in perpetuity
than look back with regret on the moment
I paused just long enough to be considered now
“the symbolic representation of the ability to span long distances.”
If I were the artist, naked and tied to these
“painted poles with fat and felt,”
his dick as stiff as my ears,
I’d surely get more than a cursory glance,
a squemish ewwww from the schoolgirl
still wet from the nude across the gallery.


Poem ©2017, Jen Payne. Image: Eurasia Siberian Symphony 1963 by Joseph Beuys,
as seen at MOMA, January 2017, artwork © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS)

A Life Lived Slowly & Simply

I am not sure what has drawn my eye to them this year, these slugs that camouflage themselves amongst leaves, against stone. But three times now, at least, their particular shape and pattern have caught my attention in a needle-in-a-haystack, Walter Wick I SPY sort of way—there! and there! and there! In April, in July…and this week, oddly in winter.

Slug is a mollusk of the class Gastropoda in which the shell is reduced to an internal plate or is completely absent. Slugs belonging to the subclass Pulmonata have soft, slimy bodies and are generally restricted to moist habitats on land. They are transgender, hermaphroditic with both male and female sex organs. Various species can eat algae, animal feces, carrion, centipedes, fungi, green plants, insects, lichens, worms, and other slugs. Many slugs consume several times their own body weight each day.

Most online resources about slugs veer immediately to their infringement in our gardens, and the varied ways to control this perceived pest with toxic chemicals and torture devices. But some will mention slug’s mystical qualities, how it was revered by the ancient Aztecs, how Native Americans relied on its healing qualities. Slug medicine, actually, can be quite powerful, much like the slug itself, which moves around without benefit of feet or shell.

Slug medicine includes symbolic communication, a deep connection to the moon, the ability to leave behind that which is does not need, the capacity for self-protection, the example of a life lived slowly and simply, and encouragement to see the world of spirit and shadow. According to StarStuffs Animal Totems:

Slug teaches to smoothly move in your surroundings. He shows the art of pacing oneself and focusing on the goal along with determination, strength and persistence. He shows how to move in a slow and steady pace by grounding in attitudes and principles all the while taking small steps toward the goal. Slug teaches the power of letting go of what is not needed. Letting go of harmful thoughts, ideals and emotions, this is how to move forward! It is time to “leave it behind.” He also teaches navigational abilities and agility in the dark, unknown and all that is hidden with confidence. Heightened sensitivity to vibrations, the ability to see with clarity and the tactics of reservation and withdrawal when needed. Slug will show when to move and times to rest. There is great power in this timing.

Perhaps that is the message, then? To “pay attention to your perceptions and senses,” as StarStuffs explains, “for they will aid you in the direction you should be going. Slow down and enjoy the moment.”

Limax Maximus (great grey slug/leopard slug)

References: Encyclopedia Britannica; Pacific Northwest Nursery at Oregon State University; “Slug’s Medicine: A Slimy Spirit Animal;” Animal totem details ©StarStuffs, Animal Totems.

winter is the glad song that you hear!

“Now is the solstice of the year,
winter is the glad song that you hear.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Have the lads up ready in a line.

Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

Join together beneath the mistletoe.
by the holy oak whereon it grows.
Seven druids dance in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.

Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

Praise be to the distant sister sun,
joyful as the silver planets run.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
Ring out those bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.
Ring on, ring out.
Ring on, ring out.”

Ring Out, Solstice Bells, Jethro Tull


IMAGE: Winter Pine by Eyvind Earle

Sanctified without Assistance

This is sacred space.
It needs no adornment,
no false adulation.

In the spring,
sweet green rejoices,
sings hallelujah at the unfurl.

Then summer’s
broad leaf and life —
a grand chorus from hallowed woods.

In fall,
her bright colors
act as crescendoed reminder:

To everything there is a season,
And a time to every purpose under heaven.

Come winter,
bare-branch whispers
of hope stored and promised.

This is sacred space
without adornment, adulation
ever on.

Photo + Poem ©2016, Jen Payne

This Day, in Perspective

from Collected Poems and Translations
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.

Photo ©2016, Jen Payne