New Haven, Circa 1971

That she would consider it
“the amazing city”
is about as ironic
as the wry half smile
on her 5-year-old face.

She didn’t see the
protests, trials, riots.
(She never does.)
Only the possibilities.
The lofty towers
and filigreed intentions
of a something that
seemed larger than life.
Of a something that indeed
seemed “amazing.”

But what’s in a word?
the poet asks
with a similar smile:
half…..not wholly true

Poem ©2017, Jen Payne

You Made Your Bed

Waking up beside a mistake
one has little choice but to make the bed
tear off the sheets and start fresh —
hospital-corner fresh —
pillows creased with a firm hand


with a broad arc and breath
reset the sheets askew, awry
as if that was the intention all along
messy, made, come what may

Poem ©2017, Jen Payne. National Poetry Month, 30. Image: Bed Making, Stanley Spencer.

and then there were eight

After Adam and Eve upgraded,
do you think they longed
for the unencumbered days?
Those quiet times before
buttons and zippers
and technologies requiring
such labored maintenance,
such frequent attention?
Did they think, often,
that it would be much simpler
to move about this world
without needing to
dress for success
dress up
dress down
dress to kill
dress for dinner
Were they ever-seduced
by the need, the speed, the ease?
Or did they Think Different,
see past the bill of goods —
understand the lure, the hook, the catch
for exactly what it was:
the shiny object,
the pretty distraction,
another Apple, another sin.

Poem ©2017, Jen Payne. National Poetry Month, 26. Image: Man And Woman (Adam And Eve), Pavel Filonov.