Categories
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

Categories
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.

Death
     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

Categories
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

Categories
Poetry

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.

Categories
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

Categories
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. 
Categories
Poetry

The Pond is Quiet Today

**CAUTION** DO NOT USE WATER FOR THE FOLLOWING PURPOSES: SWIMMING AND OTHER WATER CONTACT, FISHING, IRRIGATION, LIVESTOCK WATERING, DRINKING…

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

Categories
Creativity Poetry

Summer Song at 4 a.m.



Lone Seagull

due east of the

Bell Buoy at Mermaid Rocks

is background vocal for

katy-did
katy-did
katy-did
she-did

and the
cicada cricket
chorus

while the frog
in the marsh
sings solo tenor

only
interrupted
by the
footsteps
of a deer

so I,
barefoot too,
ask her:

do you hear
the sound of stars?

Poem ©2022, Jen Payne

Categories
mindfulness Poetry

4 a.m. and I am one a part of all


Are those fireflies
come to join my meditation
or all the stars

a constellation 
above the grass
as waves crash
in a quiet ebb and flow
of breeze
that catches in trees

     and that?

a soft bowl chime
Rinpoche
reminds

or the bell buoy
just offshore
marking time
and breeze,
the tease
of stars

Poem ©2022, Jen Payne. Image: Nicholas Roerich, Star of the Hero.


Categories
Creativity Poetry

Future Perfect

Hush Hush
the red cardinal whispers
to the wind and to time

the needs of the many outweigh
the needs of the few or the one

As he and his mate lean into each other
brace against the man-made cold
its air that breaks hope and bones

Hush Hush

In the spring, love, the babes arrive,
and we’ll sing and dance unending

But he knows the storms to come
the wicked winds, the end of time

and we’ll see in them, those babes,
a thousand more…we’ll fly
in crystal skies anew


Poem ©2022, Jen Payne. For more poems like this, read Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind.

 

Categories
Poetry

Within Her Confines

Maybe for breakfast you have one egg and toast without butter, and coffee without cream,

and maybe you swallow down the bitter truth of it with a token smile,

grab your bag from the hallway table, and escape into the crisp, cold morning air

breathe……….breathe for a while

because you know at supper, after work, you’ll only have one glass of wine, if that

and you’ll take those things you brought home with you today — the snips and pieces of passion — and tuck them back into that bag, that safe hiding place until tomorrow

so it’s easier tonight to be one-note and unobjectionable,

small and of no consequence to anyone’s conceit

so it’s easier to say no, no, no, it’s OK, and this is enough,
when what you wanted to say was

“I’ll have orange marmalade and butter, please, and sweet cream that whips to a peak, and three chilled glasses of Rosé.”

“I want to get up on that dance floor, darling, and make a complete fool of myself because one of us is leaving soon, and we won’t get this chance again!”

Categories
Books Creativity Memoir Poetry

8 – Night Music

Night Music

The D key
on my neighbor’s piano
sounds like an owl

hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo
hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo

maybe a mourning dove

coo-OO-oo

coo-OO-oo

the bell buoy
off Mermaid Rocks?

doong doong doong
doong doong doong
 
Wrong direction, though
an alarm? my phone?

too low for tinitus
its angel songs

too late for a piano
I thought, but

hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo
hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo
 
coo-OO-oo
coo-OO-oo
 
doong doong doong
doong doong doong

That D key had center stage
drowned out the others
in pitch-perfect tones
enough to wake birds
and me, my angels in check

while the Sound rocked on…

Photo and poem ©2021, Jen Payne. #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Month. If you like this poem, you can read similar in my books, available from Three Chairs Publishing on my ETSY SHOP. They come autographed, with gratitude and a small gift.

Categories
Books Creativity Memoir Poetry

7 – Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Morning

sun

on

tulips

takes

my

breath

away.

Photo and poem ©2021, Jen Payne. #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Month. If you like this poem, you can read similar in my books, available from Three Chairs Publishing on my ETSY SHOP. They come autographed, with gratitude and a small gift.

Categories
Books Creativity Memoir Poetry

6 – Apple of Discord

Apple of Discord

I had, for years,
chosen words carefully,
like one might apples
in the January bin —
hold, look, turn,
feel for the bruises
beforehand.

And I set them out
carefully
on this paper
we call a screen
so there was time
to savor my meaning —
hold, look, turn,
let down your guard,
love.

But that proved
as elusive as the worms
that burrow in —
making scar tissue
of sweet, soft flesh,
unseen beneath the skin
where bruises bloom
and hearts stay broke.

Poem ©2021, Jen Payne. #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Month. Image: Ceci n’est pas une pomme/This is Not an Apple by Rene Magritte. If you like this poem, you can read similar in my books, available from Three Chairs Publishing on my ETSY SHOP. They come autographed, with gratitude and a small gift.

Categories
Books Creativity Memoir Poetry

5 – Can You Hear Me Now?

Can you hear me now?

If a tree falls in the woods

is it inclined to consider

the possibility that no one hears it?

and does that make its falling

any less monumental?

What about the bear —

does its obvious defecation

negate the very action?

I mean

what is the value of

scat for scat’s sake

for Christ’s sake?

No matter.

It’s probably just

predictable poop.

Poem ©2021, Jen Payne. #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Month. Image courtesy of the Yosemite Bear Team. If you like this poem, you can read similar in my books, available from Three Chairs Publishing on my ETSY SHOP. They come autographed, with gratitude and a small gift.

Categories
Books Creativity Memoir Poetry

4 – Coyote Vision

Coyote Vision

The shot was sharp and specific

so precise and premeditated

the anticipated yelp or howl

silent, never came

but he did, in a vision

said, this way this way quick

and we ran through trees

hidden from the path

to a den deep in the woods

a portal to another moment

he in phantom form now and

I, nothing but a thought

on a wave of breath.

Poem ©2021, Jen Payne. #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Month. Image: Wikipedia. If you like this poem, you can read similar in my books, available from Three Chairs Publishing on my ETSY SHOP. They come autographed, with gratitude and a small gift.

Categories
Books Creativity Memoir Poetry

3 – The Wrong Impression

The Wrong Impression

He ran, he told me,
through the corridors of Heathrow
the framed Monet under a free arm,
it, his grand gesture
to the unrequiting, me

Monet’s water lilies
The Water Lily Pond
(to be precise)
its soft curved bridge
symbolic, perhaps,
of his efforts to cross over
from friends
to something more colorful,
shall we say?

For the untrained eye
it gave the impression of love,
but look closely to see
a thousand random dots,
their missed connections
a terminal romance.

Poem ©2021, Jen Payne. #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Month. Image: The Water Lily Pond, Claude Monet. If you like this poem, you can read similar in my books, available from Three Chairs Publishing on my ETSY SHOP. They come autographed, with gratitude and a small gift.

Categories
Books Creativity Memoir Poetry

2 – I prayed he left more than a spoon

I prayed he left more than a spoon

As the sun rose, he whispered,
I’ll come back if I’ve left anything
then packed and went
as quickly as he did that first time
some ten years before.
It was a fishing trip then —
a last chance visit with family
before graduation and grad school —
this time a funeral, his uncle.
No lingering, not like other years,
when we dozed dream-wrapped
late into the morning……..loved.
But with New Jersey such a long ride
from our reverie,
he left before we had a chance to…
……..a chance to say anything more than

Same time next year?
Should I bake a cake?
I’ll come back if I’ve left anything.

I prayed he left more than a spoon,
held my breath in pregnant pause for weeks
until it was clear there was nothing
to come back to……..not even the spoon
which still makes its way into coffee,
stirs up the memory of that morning
and what might have been……..afterall
had he left anything more.

For Cliff. Poem ©2021, Jen Payne. #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Month, with a sweet nod to Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn. Image: Lorette with Cup of Coffee, Henri Matisse. If you like this poem, you can read similar in my books, available from Three Chairs Publishing on my ETSY SHOP. They come autographed, with gratitude and a small gift.

Categories
Books Creativity Poetry

1 – Morning Haiku

cardinal on my schedule

doesn’t need to notice clocks

sings sweet song at six

Poem and Photo ©2021, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Month. Are you fascinated by time, too? Then order a copy of MANIFEST (zine): It’s About Time today!
Categories
Creativity Poetry Writing

April Is National Poetry Month!

National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture. Click here to learn more.

Here at Random Acts of Writing, I’ll be writing a poem a day at part of NaPoWriMo…or attempting to, at least, muse willing. Join me? Or check out these other…

30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month

  1. Sign-up for Poem-a-Day and read a poem each morning.

  2. Download a free National Poetry Month poster and display it for the occasion.

  3. Read 2020’s most-read poem, Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Kindness.”

  4. Record yourself reading a poem, and share why you chose that work online using the hashtag #ShelterinPoems. Be sure to tag @poetsorg on twitter and instagram!

  5. Subscribe to the Poem-a-Day podcast.

  6. Check out an e-book of poetry from your local library.

  7. Begin your virtual meetings or classes by reading a poem.

  8. Talk to the teachers in your life about Teach This Poem.

  9. Learn more about poets and virtual poetry events nation-wide.

  10. Read about your state poet laureate.

  11. Browse Poems for Kids.

  12. Buy a book of poetry from your local bookstore or from Three Chairs Publishing.

  13. Make a poetry playlist.

  14. Browse the glossary of terms and try your hand at writing a formal poem.

  15. Create an online anthology of your favorite poems on Poets.org.

  16. Attend a poetry reading, open mic, or poetry slam via a video conferencing service.

  17. Sign up for an online poetry class or workshop.

  18. Donate books of poetry to little free libraries and mutual aid networks.

  19. Research and volunteer with poetry organizations in your area.

  20. Take a socially safe walk and write a poem outside.

  21. Start a virtual poetry reading group or potluck, inviting friends to share poems.

  22. Read and share poems about the environment in honor of Earth Day.

  23. Take on a socially safe guerrilla poetry project.

  24. Read essays about poetry like Edward Hirsch’s “How to Read a Poem,” Mary Ruefle’s “Poetry and the Moon,” Mark Doty’s “Tide of Voices: Why Poetry Matters Now,” and Muriel Rukeyser’s “The Life of Poetry.”

  25. Watch a movie, lecture, or video featuring a poet.

  26. Write an exquisite corpse or a renga with friends via email or text.

  27. Make a poetry chapbook.

  28. Make a poem to share on Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 29, 2020.

  29. Submit your poems to a literary magazine or poetry journal.

  30. Make a gift to support the Academy of American Poets free programs and publications and keep celebrating poetry year-round!

Poster and Text from http://www.poets.org. #NaPoWriMo, #PoetryDaily
Categories
Creativity Love Memoir Poetry Wellness Writing

The S.S. (Space Ship) Pussiewillow II

The S.S. Pussiewillow II is a whimsical machine by inventor-sculptor Rowland Emett, who was known worldwide for his intricate machines that whirr, spin, flash, sway, and quiver, going nowhere, doing nothing, poking fun at technology. It appeared on display circa 1980 in the Flight in the Arts gallery at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, complemented by music composed and performed on antique harpsichords by Trevor Pinnock. This indescribable kinetic work became a favorite of adults and children alike. The object was taken off display in 1990, but visitors with long memories still ask about it.

From the postcard:

The S.S. Pussiewillow II, a Personal Air and Space Vehicle of unique Stern-wheel configuration, with Flying Carpet attributes, by Rowland Emett, O.B.E. An adapted Kashmir carpet is enmeshed within a light Jupiter-ring, which undulates and spins to provide False Gravity. Twelve variable-speed Zodiacs spin up to ensure activation of suitable Sign, to nullify adverse contingencies. In combined Control Module and Hospitality Room, the Pilot, accompanied by his Astrocat, pedals lightly (aided by helium-filled knee-caps) to energize Stern Paddle-wheel. There is an elevated Power-boost G.E.O.R.G.E. (Geometric Environmental OARiented Row-Gently Energizer), and a Solar Transfuser for trapping random sun-rays. Module is shown in open attitude, revealing possible Extraneous Being being won-over by Afternoon Tea, and toasted tea-cakes.

“A memory I wasn’t entirely sure was real, of finding something that seemed completely but wonderfully out of place in the National Air and Space Museum,” says the person who took the video below, and I completely agree. Like them, I too, remember wandering around the Air and Space Museum and finding myself in this magical room with its dancing machine and fantastical music. I’ve kept the postcard (above) tucked away ever since — what fun to revisit the memory all these years later!

Postcard and text from the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, 1981

If you like this magical creation, you’ll LOVE the It’s About Time issue of MANIFEST (zine). On sale now!

Categories
Art Living Poetry

Alternate Ending

As soon as I heard the tone of your voice
I knew I would change the story.
Right there, sitting on the step,
with the phone still warm against my ear,
I said out loud “It will not end this way.”
I never looked back.
I just cut a hole through the wall,
and changed the language of doors.

©2013 Jen Payne. IMAGE: The Open Door, Leon Spilliaert, 1945

If you like this poem, you’ll LOVE the Divine Intervention issue of MANFEST (zine)

Categories
Memoir Poetry Writing

Memoir

In the pieces of memory
and scraps of conversations
transcribed in situ
I will tell you about
the headless groom
and the dead dog,
about the failure of Saint Raphael
and the irony of the phrase
“you could get hit by a bus.”
I’ll tell you the 15,000 words that broke me
and the ones that almost put me back together
until I realized my heart was better
cracked wide-open like that anyhow.
Now all I need to do is type

Happy Ending.

on the last page
and hope it will suffice.

Poem ©2017, Jen Payne. Image: Woman writing, Edouard Manet.

If you like this poem, you’ll LOVE the Divine Intervention issue of MANFEST (zine)

Categories
Memoir Poetry Writing

Identity Theft

I look
in the mirror
and see nothing.
Pieces of familiar fall away.
Sticks poke at what’s left.

Start from scratch
or use a box mix?
Put square peg
in square hole…
that’s never been my style.

I take a walk
to get answers.
Insert A into B, get C.
But all I see is ocean.
Vast and unresolved.

IT doesn’t seem
to need answers.
In. Out. Back. Forth.
Up. Down. [Repeat.]
I take my cue and leave.

It’s OK. Really.
I was bored with me anyway.
If you please,
may I see something
in a polygon?

Poem ©2008, Jen Payne. Image: Girl in front of mirror, Pablo Picasso

If you like this poem, you’ll LOVE the Divine Intervention issue of MANFEST (zine)

Categories
Living Poetry Wellness Writing

Transubstantiation

Be the change you wish to see in the world — be the change you fear.

Serve it up in bite-size pieces and make peace with it because resistance is futile.

Change comes and change comes and change comes
and you change and you change and you change.

Extra change in your pocket
is just reserve for the next detour.

Recalculating.

Better to live in fluidic space, liquid and organic,
bending time, not biding,
moving from here to there effortlessly.

Gracefully.
Gratefully.

Because an object at rest stays at rest
but an object in motion stays in motion

and we all know it’s the motion in the ocean that counts.

Poem ©Jen Payne

If you like this poem, you’ll LOVE the Divine Intervention issue of MANFEST (zine)

Categories
Poetry Writing

Suggested Title: Tenacious

No matter what we think
or how it feels,
we don’t really break break,
even our break downs
imply eventual turn ups.

Oh sure, we bend a little,
(bend over backwards, too)
fold under pressure sometimes
lean into the pain
collapse with exhaustion
appear to come apart at the seams
and yet…

And yet.

Upon this holy ground of spirit
there is still room to breathe,
we are not damaged, we are flexible
we are not falling apart, we are rebuilding
we are not broken or undone.

By the very fibers of our being,
we are strength and grace
unyielding.

Poem ©2021. An ekphrastic poem written by Jen Payne, inspired by the sculpture Untitled by Lisa Wolkow, featured in the Guilford Art Center Faculty Show Keeping On.
Categories
Poetry Writing

Waning Crescent

The moon and I shared space today

before the world awoke

and though we both were silent

it felt as if we spoke

about this wild spinning thing

and how it does transpire

the comedy and tragedy

and all the little fires

That golden wink up in the sky

a secret shared with me

our sweet spot in the morning

its rare tranquility.

Poem ©2021, Jen Payne. Photos from The Lilith Zone.
Categories
Poetry Writing

Dance! I say. Dance!

I told him once it was a dance,
and I hyphenated
the push – pull – go – come
choreography
like a tormented poet might.
How clever the analogy!

(And how could he not love clever?)

Watch me pirouet, I said.
Put a spin on this
so the song doesn’t end,
and the routine goes on forever.

(Did you see that? Clever again.)

It’s the same old song and dance, love.
We can’t side-step the family dance-step,
it’s in our genes, and I don’t mean Kelly, so…

I’d like to shake things up a bit,
you know, move with the times…
Why not dance this year’s dance to—
the pachenga.

Poem ©Jen Payne

If you like this poem, you’ll LOVE the Divine Intervention issue of MANFEST (zine)

Categories
Poetry

Adjourned

Damn those little murders,
those small infractions
to which we pay no mind
save for the evidence markers
placed at the foot of the moment
this, here, remember.

Wise or not wise we file them away
in a box called Misdemeanors
until the shelf bends and breaks
and proof bears witness;
only then do we see the trail of blood
from that first red flag
to a catalog of minor injuries
and shallow stab wounds,
enough to leave us only hobbled,
the walking wounded.

In court, they’d present the facts
prove we didn’t plan for this
to any known degree;
a crime of accident and
unintended consequences;
suggest Self-Defense,
and we’d both just nod to agree.

Poem ©2021, Jen Payne.
Categories
Poetry

Mea Culpa

I apologize to the birds

for being late

for arriving to the feeder

after the snow begins

assure them not to worry

there’s an endless supply

I say out loud

while I note “birdseed”

on a pad by the door……..again.

Poem ©2021, Jen Payne. Photo by Chiot’s Run.
Categories
Poetry Writing

In a hopeful, albeit futile, attempt to control the fates of 2021…

I am a Winter Warrior

and a Manifesting Angel

I’ve Finished Strong
and Started Stronger™

Unraveled My Year™

Found My Word

and my Theme Song

I did an Angel Card reading
and consulted the Runes

I’ve completed my Vision Board

committed to Read 50 Books

set my Intentions

and in a hopeful, albeit futile, attempt to control the fates of 2021,

I wrote my Resolution:

REST


Poem ©2021, Jen Payne. Painting, Femme couchee, dormant by Felix Vallotton

Categories
Nature Poetry Writing

Sanderlings

Perhaps it is the same flock,
the one I met years ago,
the one that startled me
here on this shore
that very first walk,
when every rock and curve,
every wind and wave
was unfamiliar still.

Perhaps it knows me now,
this flock of small fidgety birds,
always nervous or impatient,
quickened by anticipation of
the next wave, skittering
to the beat of their sharp trills,
quickly quickly ahead
never near enough for hello again.

Until this morning when I,
in keen focus on a resting shell,
became for a moment
likewise and warmed by the sun,
looked up to find myself surrounded,
heart quickened and nervous
that one false move would startle them,
their gathering at my feet.

Poem and Photo ©2020, Jen Payne. If you like this poem, then you’ll love WAITING OUT THE STORM, a collection of my poems about Cape Cod. Click here to buy the book now.
Categories
Poetry transition Writing

Sun Rise

This morning, I watched the sun rise —

or rather, I watched myself move forward
forward uncontrollably into the sun

The owl went first, the one sitting on a branch across the marsh.
Then the giant maple, her arms outstretched and welcoming.

I seemed to step into the rising myself though I made no movement —
none that I could tell mechanically, despite the velocity of change.

The velocity of one thousand miles each hour, imperceivable —
imperceivable almost, except for the first bird who let out a gasp,

a tweeeeeet! as the she smashed into the first rays of light,
a joyful surprise at how quickly the change snuck up on her.

Or how quickly she snuck up on change — remember?
She, without a lifted feather of flight, raced forward to meet the sun.

The owl and the marsh and the maple went into the light, too,
a face-first dive into the oncoming rays, into the change of day.

How easily we forget this constant movement, this constant change
give up our own velocity and blame it on the sun rising,

roll over in bed to look out the window, tucked under illusions of security
think it rises to spite us, harumph at the inconveniences,

forget to marvel at the wild magic of it all, the whooosh! of day
the velocity of our lives careening without injury forward.

Poem and Photo ©2020, Jen Payne
Categories
Creativity Poetry

Birdsong on November 5, 2020

The 6am bird outside my window
knows nothing of this angst,
the heavy beat of my heart,
it just sings
peter-peter-peter
peter-peter-peter

and sings some more,

but I have no song
not this day, not this week
I am speechless
and songless
and almost…
almost
hopeless.

Do you think the titmouse
would still sing if it
could see the foreshadow of winter,
the deception of sunshine days,
and the unkind cold of darkness?

Would the lilt of
peter-peter-peter
peter-peter-peter

be just as joyful,
playful even as birds skip
from branch to branch
this November morning?

Will I be joyful
or playful even, in the shadow
of what comes or doesn’t come,
what hides hungry in wait,
or what the fresh sky offers
as holy compensation?

Poem @2020, Jen Payne. Photo by Dawn Huczek.
Categories
Creativity Poetry Spirituality Writing

Gratitude

For this
this ground beneath my feet,
the signs of seasons, yes, and change
forever change

footsteps
…..forward
……….fortitude
fearlessness

solitude
communion

grace
…..god

greatness in small things……….and large
this, this ground beneath my feet

holds everything
…..and me

spinning forward across a galaxy
…..a universe

and She of all things
in every footstep

here, this ground beneath my feet

Poem + Photo ©2018, Jen Payne.
Categories
Creativity Poetry

Chores

In the long space between cars
from the Sunday road,
I could hear the bell buoy
just off shore,
the breeze from the Sound
pushed curtains aside
allowing a view south
to see, from my window,
the fall migration,
to wonder at how things change
so quickly and so slowly
while I folded, carefully,
in meditation……….and mediation
each and every sheet
in my possession
the cool cottons and soft flannels,
the cooperative flats,
and grumbly fitteds

housekeeping

housekeeping

housekeeping

as if in the folding
I could lose the grief,
misplace the pain,
find comfort in neat tucked corners
and sweet even stacks
knowing that they’ll return —
the birds — in spring,
and life goes on.

Poem @2020, Jen Payne.