This Long Winter Weekend: What are you reading?

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.” — Kitty O’Meara

Looking for something new to read? Click here now!



I am sure the red fox wonders,
as does the otter and friends,

what happened to the horizon,

why the light that’s not a star shines
from sun down to sun up
with no seeming purpose,

why the fresh salt air is slow to come

The gulls know, of course

They see from the sky
the new and larger rooftops,
the wide expanses of useless green,
the decks and porches and drives,
the construction constructed from the edge of their pond to the edge of the harbor

They see even, in the biggest living room
of the biggest house
the big screen TV,
on certain mornings,
lights the horizon just like a sun,
casts shadows on the fox
and the otter
who will never know again
the rush of first light and certain breezes.

Poetry Writing


It was just the other summer day
I wondered if your hair turned gray.

If you loved her still enough to stay.

And then as if in cue today,
I saw your car pass my way.
That telltale glance gave you away,
the smile that always could betray.

And I, with so much left to say,
kept still and let this poem aweigh.

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. Photo by Pedro Figueras from Pexels.
Poetry Writing

Our Sad Riddle

Alive without breath,
As cold as death;
Never thirsty, ever drinking,
All in mail never clinking.

My nephew, fresh from the pages of Tolkien,
sees a fish carcass on the beach,
predicts Gollum! though we both wonder.
He considers the waves left from a storm,
the wind that blows us each askew,
thinks with furrowed brow, like me
as I sift through those things I know:
the trespass of raw sewage
and slick film of leached oil,
the change of warming waters,
our persistent lack of rain.
But he’s off on a new adventure now,
throwing boulders with grunts and gasps,
Take that! he yells, a holler into the wind
as loud as mine would be if allowed
to grieve the things he cannot see.

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. One of the riddles of Bilbo and Gollum in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
Poetry Writing

Found Poem: Eau de Parfum

a deconstructed garden
the secondary scents
or quieter facets of floristry
often overlooked:

freshly cut stems,
crushed leaves,
rich soil

as beautiful and evocative as the flower itself

what lingers

green hyacinth and dewy muguet
mandarin, hyacinth, freesia


©2020, Jen Payne. Taken from the website description of Malin + Goetz perfume.
Poetry Writing

When it’s so hard to see…

This morning before dawn I found myself
looking for black pants in the dark.

In the dark before dawn,
I was looking for black pants

and found it apt metaphor
that search in the dark

for hope when it’s so hard to see
as hard to see as black in the dark

that search for hope
that’s hard to see, these days

these days and most days,
black as the dark before dawn

an outstretched hand unseen
in the dark, this morning, with hope.

©2020, Jen Payne.
Creativity Poetry

Friends 2020


I miss the taken-for-granted pleasure of soft butter spread on another piece of bread at my favorite restaurant,

how it complements the white wine served in a chilled glass so well I could have a meal of just that: bread, butter, wine.

I miss the face of my friend across the table from me, less than six feet for sure, her uncovered smile,

the back and forth of gestures, nods, hands-in-the-air exclamations about all of those things:

making art! writing! travel!
a heron, hummingbird, bee!
life and love…and that bread, can you believe it!

I miss our slow, slow pace that lasts longer than a meal, almost sometimes longer than a shift,

as we nod our gratitude to the waitress who knows us by smiles and gestures that say

yes, pour more wine
yes, leave more butter, please
yes, yes more bread of course, more bread

when the only thing that covers our face is the brief glance at a menu

or the swipe of a linen napkin to wipe a crumb from a smile never again taken for granted.

©2020, Jen Payne. Photo by Carolyn S. on Yelp. Thanks Mary O’Connor and Friends and Company.
Creativity Poetry

And so it goes.

And so it goes.

I once left a man because he used my toothbrush.

I was young of course, but it wasn’t the face value indiscretion that caused the sudden severing,

it was the implications: swerving across lines of trust, respect, kindness.

We wonder where love goes, how friendships end, how communities falter and countries fail.

It’s in the small and everyday: the one false move that tips the scale too far, too much.

In the blink of an eye we’re careening across the median, crashing into something hard and unyielding,

spitting what’s left down the drain, and praying the tap still works to wash away the betrayal.

And so it goes. Like that. Just as complicatedly simple as that.

©2020, Jen Payne
Creativity Poetry



It’s OK, I reassure her.

You’re alright.

Seemingly all day

I talk out loud

Where are you?

Are you OK?

Yesterday, she startled

when I walked into the room

both of us unaware of the other

It’s OK I reassure her

and You’re alright

but I wonder sometimes

at this grand projection,

is she in possible peril

or am I?

©2020, Jen Payne, with assistance from Lola.

New Leaf

New Leaf

Oh for the new leaf turning,

the new chapter beginning,

the door closing

silently, silently, silently

the window opens

ohhhhh for the new leaf turning…

©2020, Jen Payne
Poetry Writing

Sims 2020

Sims 2020

If one if familiar
with the virtual world
of the Sims,
then one well knows
how task = reward.

One must
work work work
to earn money,
read read read
to gain intelligence (points).

Don’t forget to
talk talk talk
smile smile smile
to make friends.

It’s important to
wash wash wash
to keep healthy (points),
exercise exercise, too.

All of this, this, this
to maintain the house you
built, built, built,
the relationship
for which you
kissed, kissed, kissed,

and your
happy happy mood.

So if one is familiar
with the world
of the Sims,
then one well knows
how virtually similar

these 2020 days
feel, feel, feel.

©2020, Jen Payne.
Poetry Writing

Found Senryū

Testing 1 2 3

To Live Alone in the Woods

and Write, Wild She Goes

©2020, Jen Payne, senryū based on email subject lines.
Poetry Writing

Sunday Reading

for Nan

I rise up from my Sunday recline
long enough to select a proper bookmark

for surely this story deserves better
than a torn and tattered scrap
from the used bookstore, used

deserves, perhaps, a bookmark
made by an artist friend
from cut paper instead —
attended, intricate, precious

intended for just this…
this intricate story cut
from words and time
from memory and nerve

cut from the heart

©2020, Jen Payne, while reading Simple Absence: Poems & Reflections by Nancy Fitz-Hugh Meneely.
Poetry Writing

Dream 072220

There was snow
and she was her usual
ornery self about the matter —
I don’t like snow
in a sweet huffy fit
mirroring her petulant
I don’t like trees
when she’d sneeze.
How I miss all of that,
but I digress…

There was snow
and she was her usual:
the smile-and-laugh
approach to hard hard life,
a big and bold disguise
a wink even, I think,
and then she left.

She left and then
the living room light
turned on by itself
lit from a beam of sun
she never saw coming
coming through the window
then the radio lit for morning…

Tell me all your thoughts on God
‘Cause I’m on my way to see her

©2020, Jen Payne for Mary Anne, with thanks to Dishwalla and Counting Blue Cars.

Memoir Poetry Writing


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.