Nature Photography

Friday Photo 01.27.23

Sometimes it’s what you don’t see…, Branford, CT by Jen Payne
Nature Photography

Friday Photo 01.13.23

When the flossers awake from hibernation too soon: a cautionary tale from our consumer society, Branford, CT by Jen Payne
Creativity flash fiction Storytelling



Last night I dreamt of my grandmother. She was sitting next to my dad toasting champagne in a luncheonette on Broad Street. You know, the kind with leather stools spinning around a counter and formica tables? I knew she’d be waiting, but the front door was locked, so I found a back entrance, pushed past the steel workers having lunch and ran to her. My heart was so full it felt like I was drowning, swallowing air and love; racing towards that hug that almost knocked us off our feet, her arms as tight as mine, holding on ‘til morning.


©2022, Jen Payne.  Photo: John’s Cafe in Portland, Oregon


Lightning in a January Sky!

Their eyes never lost touch.
They sat and talked and laughed for hours.
He reached for her hand as if he had done so every day since they last saw each other.
That familiar feeling surprised them long into the night.
They kissed.
There was lightning in the January sky.

It’s been more than 15 years since that fateful night that changed everything. How did they get there? And what happens next? Find out in WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE: A SORT-OF LOVE STORY, an epistolary novel told through a series of emails, written by Connecticut author and poet Jen Payne.

It’s a conversation, a memoir, a love story…


by Jennifer A. Payne
Memoir / Creative Non-Fiction
5 x 7, Paperback, 130 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-5-4
$16.00 (plus tax + shipping)

You can pay through PayPal using a PayPal account or any standard credit card. If you prefer the old school approach, please send your check, made payable to Jen Payne, P.O. Box 453, Branford, CT 06405.

Nature Photography

Friday Photo 01.06.23

Bryophyte in the Driveway, Branford, CT by Jen Payne
Creativity flash fiction Storytelling

Spring No More


Not that long ago, at mile marker 86.5 near East Lyme’s Pattagansett River, you could pull off the highway into a small dirt turnout, grab a container from your trunk, and fill it to the brim with cold, fresh water pouring from a natural spring. The spring was pretty popular. You’d always see a car or two parked precariously on the side of the road — traffic slowing more for the incline of the hill ahead than the waterseekers themselves. It’s gone now, save for the old turnout, replaced by a cement culvert, its condo complex runoff too foul for thirst.




©2022, Jen Payne.

Creativity flash fiction Storytelling

Harry Anderson Saved My Life


Harry Anderson saved my life. At least that’s what my wide-eyed younger self remembers. The man had a gun, after all. I saw it as he paid for his coffee, hitched up under his arm. I was working the overnight, back when a girl could do that on her own. And besides, the cops watched out for me. That’s why I called them. Harry was there in minutes. Dragged the man to the parking lot. Discharged the gun in a moment of midlife bravado that almost got him fired. I never forgot it — overfilled his apple fritters every time thereafter.


©2022, Jen Payne.

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

Nature Photography

Friday Photo 12.16.22

What Small World Here, Branford, CT by Jen Payne
Creativity Zine

Surprising Gift Idea (+ video)

Consider a Gift Subscription. It’s a
one-of-a-kind gift idea for the holidays!

Imagine a magazine that’s like a mini art installation. Each issue is filled with unexpected images and creative rabbit holes, poetry, quotes, a curated Spotify playlist, and so much more! 


Gift subscriptions include a custom holiday greeting/gift acknowledgement and four printed issues of MANIFEST (zine) starting with the Winter 2023 issue, Great & Small.

Nature Photography

Friday Photo 12.09.22

Late Winter Walk, Branford, CT by Jen Payne
mindfulness Musings

Monday Musing: Zen Again, Zen Again

On Friday, with only three weeks left to go before Christmas, I stopped at my local CVS for laser paper. It’s a little more expensive there than at Staples, but it’s a shorter walk, and I like to save my steps for walking in the woods and not the big box stores.

Standing in line with my laser paper and a mini Panettone — it’s the holidays after all — I realized I was going to be waiting a while. There was a long line, one open register, and a family having a serious discussion with the cashier:

Can we use this coupon? (No.)

How about this one? (No.)

Is this eye pencil sharpener on sale? (No, it’s the other one, with the case.)

Can’t you apply the sale to this one? (No.) (Did you want the lip balm that’s on sale?)

Oh yes. Hold on. Let me run back and get that.

The laser paper was getting heavy, and I almost dropped the mini Panettone. Plus I was hot now — and a little annoyed — and since the only other cashier was busy putting out the Valentine’s Day candy, I decided to leave.

Not huffy leave. Or angry leave. Just put down my things and move on to the next errand leave, practicing my best versions of Surrender and Acceptance.

Truth be told, I ended up having to do the same thing at the post office 10 minutes later. No big deal. I wasn’t in desperate need of laser paper (or that Panettone), and the letter I was mailing could post on Monday.

Since I’d saved all of that time not waiting in lines, I headed across town to one of my favorite places to walk. A trail that winds across a marsh, and up through the woods to an overlook with views of Long Island Sound and a monument to poet Jennie Vedder that reminds:

I would be one with Earth again,
and grieve not as the seasons pass,
but joyous in the pulse of grass,
exultant with the beat of rain.
I would be one with Earth again,
one with her joy, one with her pain.

It was such a pretty almost-winter day. Sunny with a nice chilly breeze. Quiet except for some lingering gulls and the Amtrak heading to New York. Perfect…marred only by the Festering I was still doing about the holidays, the lines, the people at the register back at CVS.

Then a little inner voice yelled: STOP!

You went to all that effort finding your Zen spot; you made decisions to leave the things that were not serving you; and here you are full-up with thoughts about those same things. STOP!

The thing is, we all have that choice every day. Do we sit in the muck of thoughts about this or that, or do we move on about our business? Get our shoes stuck down in the mud or walk around the edge and move forward?

But I’m not perfect, and mind-control is not my forte whatsoever…so I found that Festering’s thoughts kept trying to find their way back in again. You know, sort of in that same way your thoughts push through your moments of Meditation? Zen then Me! Me! Me!  Zen then Think Over Here! Think Over Here!

So we all sort of walked together for a while—me, my thoughts, the folks in line at the post office, and the family at CVS. Until I lost site of the family, and the post office line dissipated. My thoughts wandered off about a new writing project, and there I was — alone at last! Me and my Zen, again.

There is nothing like a walk in the woods to chase away the pesky thoughts. To reconnect you with Here and Now. To show you the way to Grace and Gratitude. And Zen.

©2022, Jen Payne


Creative Gift Ideas

A Gift Subscription to MANIFEST (zine)
is a one-of-a-kind gift idea for the holidays!

It’s like sending a mini art installation that features interesting images and creative rabbit holes, quotes, poetry, a curated Spotify playlist. Layered with colors, textures, meanings (and music), the result is a thought-full, tactile journey with nooks and crannies to discover along the way. Gift subscriptions cost $25.00 include a custom holiday greeting/gift acknowledgement and four printed issues of MANIFEST (zine) starting with our upcoming winter issue, Great & Small.


Visit our Etsy Shop to order individual issues as gifts or stocking stuffers. Each costs $8.00, which includes some cool extras and shipping. (Each Etsy listing includes a sneak preview video.)

Our Books

Perfect for the book lover in your life, consider giving a book from Three Chairs Publishing. Each comes signed by the author with a few creative extras.

Don’t Miss Holiday Expo!

Looking for a festive shopping experience? Then be sure to visit the Holiday Expo at Guilford Art Center (411 Church Street, Guilford). You’ll find many of our Three Chairs Publishing creations on display, along with ceramics, pottery, glass, jewelry, homewares, fiber art, ornaments, accessories, toys, specialty foods, stationery, leather goods and more. More than 200 American artists, makers and designers are featured in this year’s event. Click here for more information.

Thank you for your support!

Just like shopping local during the holidays, shopping at Three Chairs Publishing’s online shop has ripple effects. Your purchases help to support the women-owned printing company that prints our books, the locally-owned print shops that print our marketing materials, and the U.S. Postal Service which reliably delivers our products to your doorstep. You also help the self-employed editors, proofreaders, typesetters, artists, and tech support folks who help turn my ideas into things I can put into your hands to enjoy.

For all of that, and your continued support of my creative work, thank you. Happy Holidays! — JEN PAYNE

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.

     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

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


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.

Nature Photography

Friday Photo 11.11.22

Contrails and Train Rails, Old Saybrook, CT by Jen Payne
Nature Photography

Friday Photo 11.04.22

Is this a missed opportunity?, RWA Recreational Space,
New Haven, CT by Jen Payne
Creativity Storytelling



Last night, while I slept in the just-right bed, my feet pressed against the tower wall, the Bears came and ate what was left of the wise Scribe’s apples. His favorites, he told me, bewitchingly red and wild, but rare these late fall days.

It’s quiet enough here to hear the wings of the Crow King as he flies through the stars, but not — apparently — the sound of Bears crossing the meadow in Moonlight. It seems they ate the Mountains too, or so the Fog might tell. Tell if it could speak that is, but all I hear is birdsong.

©2022, Jen Payne.

Nature Photography

Friday Photo 10.28.22

Relatively Linear, RWA Recreational Space,
New Haven, CT by Jen Payne
Nature Photography

Friday Photo 10.21.22

Brilliant Fall, RWA Recreational Space,
New Haven, CT by Jen Payne

Friday Photo 10.07.22

Window/Gallery 7, Eli Center for Contemporary Art,
New Haven, CT by Jen Payne
Books Creativity

Looking for something to read?

I am always inspired by those life moments that move us most — love and loss, joy and disappointment, milestones and turning points. When I’m not exploring our connections with one another, I enjoy writing about our relationships with nature, creativity, and mindfulness, and how these offer the clearest path to finding balance in our frenetic, spinning world.

Very often, my writing is accompanied by photography and artwork. As both a graphic designer and writer, I think partnering visuals and words layers the intentions of my work, and makes the communication more palpable. I hope you will agree!


NEW! Limited Edition Issue of MANIFEST (zine)

Issue #10, The Lola Poems

“I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats,” writes Eckhart Tolle in his book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. “Watch any plant or animal and let it teach you acceptance of what is, surrender to the Now. Let it teach you Being. Let it teach you integrity —which means to be one, to be yourself, to be real. Let it teach you how to live and how to die, and how not to make living and dying into a problem.”
THE LOLA POEMS is a limited edition, memorial issue of MANIFEST (zine) that honors the passing of my own little Zen master, Lola, by considering the lessons she taught me in our time together.

16-page, 4.25 x 5.5 booklet, Cost: $8.00 or subscribe and get 4 issues for $25.00.

You can pay through PayPal using a PayPal account or any standard credit card. If you prefer the old school approach, please send your check, made payable to Jen Payne, P.O. Box 453, Branford, CT 06405.

Creativity Storytelling

Sleeping on Arch Street


I slept on a cot near my grandmother’s bed in a room that smelled like eucalyptus. The aluminum frame squeaked when I moved, despite my small size and efforts to keep quiet. My grandfather slept in the adjoining room, his presence as unnerving as the Jesus portrait on the wall. The story goes he woke her once with a pitcher of water, threw it on the bed so she’d make his breakfast. I wonder if the train whistle ever disturbed him, pulled him down the tracks to the steel mill, back to the stacks and hot slag where he belonged.




©2022, Jen Payne.


Now Available! Manifest (zine): Heroically Found

Issue #9, Heroically Found

Taking its theme from the William Butler Yeats poem “A Crazed Girl,” HEROICALLY FOUND considers how we improvise as we go along “no matter what disaster occurred,” finding balance, like the crazed girl, in “her music, her poetry, dancing upon the shore.” Quoting from a variety of spiritual and creative sources, HEROICALLY FOUND posits that the way to find equilibrium in these challenging times is through mindful presence — a meditation that opens our hearts and minds to art, to poetry, and to unexpected blessings. For writer Jen Payne, those blessings often include creativity, inspiration, and beautiful rays of insight revealed during her walking meditations in the woods and along the shore. Come along and see what you can find yourself!

INGREDIENTS: appropriation art, collaged elements, color copies, color scans, colored markers, digital art, ephemera, essays, found art, found objects, found poetry, hand-drawn fonts, handmade rubber stamp art, ink jet copies, land art, laser prints, original photographs, poetry, and quotes. With gratitude to Keri Smith and guest appearances by Dale Carlson, Joseph Cornell, Ami McKay, Charles Simic, William Butler Yeats,  and more!

Special thanks to the James Blackstone Memorial Library in Branford, CT for its support of MANIFEST (zine).

24-page, full-color 5×7 + inserts, Cost: $8.00 or subscribe and get 4 issues for $25.00.

MANIFEST (zine): Heroically Found is part of THE EXCHANGE, a statewide Connecticut Artist Treasure Hunt on view, August 15 – November 1, 2022 (rain or sun). It includes GPS-tracking, QR codes, and adventuring to 15 unique public art installations by 23 participating artists. The designated sites can be accessed through a map with GPS coordinates found at

You can pay through PayPal using a PayPal account or any standard credit card. If you prefer the old school approach, please send your check, made payable to Jen Payne, P.O. Box 453, Branford, CT 06405.


THE EXCHANGE: A Statewide Connecticut Artist Treasure Hunt

I am psyched to be part of THE EXCHANGE, a statewide artist treasure hunt happening in Connecticut from now until November 1! CLICK HERE for an interactive map, GPS coordinates, and video clues from all of the artists!

SomethingProjects is launching its first project, a statewide Connecticut Artist Treasure Hunt called THE EXCHANGE, on view daily, August 15 – November 1, 2022 (rain or sun). It includes GPS-tracking, QR codes, and adventuring to 15 unique public art installations. The designated sites can be accessed through a map with GPS coordinates found at beginning August 15.

Get ready for an adventure! Plan your outing to visit the many exciting projects in which the public is invited to engage in fun and meaningful ways in the towns of: Beacon Falls, Branford, Bridgeport, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Hamden, Hartford, Meriden, New Haven, North Haven, Washington Depot, and Waterbury. Learn about these artists selected from your community by participating in the act of discovering what they have created to exchange with you.


Jeff Becker, Easton
Meg Bloom, New Haven
David Borawski, Hartford
Susan Breen, Bridgeport
Joy Bush, Hamden
Susan Clinard, New Haven
Jennifer Davies, Branford
Sierra Dennehy, New Haven
Ellen Hackl Fagan, Darien
Crystal Heiden, Milford
Allison Hornak, New Haven
Fritz Horstman, Bethany
Joe Bun Keo, Vernon/Rockville
Judith Kruger, New Haven
Susan McCaslin, New Haven
Bailey Murphy, Meriden
Adam Niklewicz, North Haven
Jen Payne, Branford
Roxy Savage, Fairfield
Max Schmidt, Meriden
Rosanne Shea, Waterbury
Kim Van Aelst, Hamden
Jo Yarrington, Fairfield

In 2022, longtime friends and artists, Howard el-Yasin and Suzan Shutan decided to partner and launched SomethingProjects: a nomadic and provisional space providing short-term exhibitions that dually highlight artists as well as introducing communities to new viewpoints and practices by state, regional, national and international artists. As an incubator for ideas it encourages artists to step outside their boundaries and experiment with the intersection of materials, production, presentation and means of engagement with audience and space. Their locations will change, and offer site-specific opportunities. For more information about SomethingProjects and THE EXCHANGE, visit

Supported by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the federal ARPA.


The Pond is Quiet Today


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


Upon the Death of a Friend, 1986

Of course you were the one to call. It was late, I remember, a rainy night like the last time we met. Cars on the wet, weathered pavement, wipers marking time. Starshine in puddles and you, light years away, saying you knew I’d want to know, knew he’d been important. You knew despite the distance in our orbits, despite our final kiss that birthed a galaxy between us. My heart. You knew.

Poem ©2022, Jen Payne. Image: Mark Plötz.

Creativity Poetry

Summer Song at 4 a.m.

Lone Seagull

due east of the

Bell Buoy at Mermaid Rocks

is background vocal for


and the
cicada cricket

while the frog
in the marsh
sings solo tenor

by the
of a deer

so I,
barefoot too,
ask her:

do you hear
the sound of stars?

Poem ©2022, Jen Payne


Swan Song

The swan has lost her mate,
so I wade ankle-deep in the
shallow pond and

with breath like water

lie child pose
in her nest
surrogate heart
close to her side
and whisper

Far away, there once
lived a king
who had eleven sons
and one daughter…

Poem ©2022, Jen Payne. IMAGE: The Wild Swans, illustration by Joseph Smith, Tales from Hans Christian Andersen, 1965.

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

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.


Girl, Cat, Fish

Some days, I feel like the girl in the tub with the fish in the comedy show hitting so close to home but so far out in left field that eating popcorn while I watch doesn’t seem nearly as awful as eating chicken wings during an episode of Criminal Minds. Me and my dying cat curled up on the floor, my hand stroking her tail — and only her tail because otherwise she thinks I’m about to stick another pill down her throat and she’ll run to hide from me. It’s a terrible thing when a part of your heart runs and hides from you, but I don’t blame her. She likes me best now in the mornings, too tired and stiff for any chase. Instead we curl up, like the girl and the fish in the tub, floating there in the early morning hours as if nothing will ever change.

©2022, Jen Payne. Scene from Hulu’s Life & Beth.

Books Creativity

I’ll Be Right Back…

I have a confession to make. For the past six months, I have been disappearing down a rabbit hole, crawling to the backside of the wardrobe, hitching a ride on a tornado…and making my way to the empire of Une Belle Ville.

It started innocently enough — my nephew on his tablet in the backseat on our way home from an adventure.

“What’s that?” I asked, hearing huzzahs and sing-song chimes.

“Forge of Empires,” he said.

“A video game?”

“Yea, it’s cool. You build a city by collecting resources and building an army. I’m in the Stone Age still.”

When we got home, we sat on the couch together and he showed me his city. Just a few random huts, some dirt trails, an obelisk — but it had me at sing-song. So I loaded it on my iphone and away we went, my nephew and me sharing our cities and achievements.

“I’m in the Iron Age!” he announced.

“Me, too!”

“You caught up with me. I have three archers!”

“I built a fruit farm!”

We went on like this for a few weeks, comparing notes as we played dueling technologies. And then one day, I started hearing zap-zap-zap and kaboom instead of huzzah and sing-song, sing-song.

“What age are you in now?” I asked, curiously.

“I’m playing Minecraft.”

“Not Forge of Empire?”

“No. It was too boring. This is better, see…”

And so our paths diverged. He and his kabooms went one way, and I skipped along with my huzzahs from the Bronze age straight on through to the Industrial.

Ok, maybe it seems a little silly. It’s also one of those nefarious escape mechanisms that gets you strung out on dopamine.  But given the state of the world (and the state of my family of late)? I’m all in for an extra hit of dopamine thank you very much.

The funny thing is, my city — Une Belle Ville — is exactly the kind of place I’d like to spend my time if the rabbit hole jumping, wardrobe crawling, tornado clinging thing actually worked. My fellow villagers and I rank high in enthusiasm and participate happily as members of the local Guild. We trade instead of battle, we polish instead of plunder, we explore the world and give aid when we can. We have lots of trees and gardens, a rosarium and a butterfly house. There’s a mountain preserve, a Celtic farmstead, and a vineyard. We can see the Oracle of Delphi, the Arc de Triomphe, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, Notre Dame, and a Statue of Zeus all in an afternoon’s walk. We can visit the zoo, laugh on the ferris wheel, take a hot air balloon ride, or climb the steps of the Observatory to see the stars.

So far, I’ve built a paper mill, am working towards a print shop, and look forward to the day I can build a library for my city, because we all need books, don’t we? Those other things that give us a beautiful out, an “I’ll be right back” excuse to leave the 21st century messes and remember what’s possible with a little bit of imagination and some escapism-flavored dopamine. Huzzah!



The bee in the meadow
is chanting,
its words imperceivable
but for the rhythm
the vibration like my own
chanting      sometimes
before I start the day
and the bee, like me
is quick in its reverence
quick prayer
like the mealtime grace
of my childhood

God is great
God is good
let us thank him
for this food




ABOVE: The adoration of Common chicory (Cichorium intybus) by Bicolored Agapostemon Sweat Bee (Agapostemon viriscens). Photo and poem by Jen Payne.

Creativity Zine

It’s International Zine Month!

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL ZINE MONTH! Come on over to the Three Chairs Publishing website and join me as we celebrate a month full of zine things! Find out about zines, zine libraries, zine history, how to make your own zine and more!