29 – New Haven Harbor, 1995

This is the moment of leaving,

this view out the passenger window,

a sideways glance, passing

rain forming stars on the glass

belie any reminder of wishes,

this is just the falling part –

the out of, away from, apart part,

watching with envy

how the tugs push

the things that cannot move,

how once unburdened

this becomes that,

how easily the plane departs,

lights, too, like stars,

moving toward the horizon.

Photo by George Desipris. Poem ©2018, Jen Payne. National Poetry Month #29. If you like this poem, you’ll LOVE Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind! BUY IT TODAY!

23 – The first time she ever said Fuck

you could see it
gathering steam
from her core

from her memory

from her sadness

from her pain
from her fear
from her anger

but when it came out


it was not nearly
as loud
as explosive
or as endless
as she deserved

I think now
I should have
saved it
dug a deep hole
and planted it
grew it lush and large
fed it back to her
sautéed in
wine and butter

Maybe then
she would remember
the day she almost
set herself free.

Image: Woman on the Verandah , Edvard Munch. Poem ©2018, Jen Payne, for my mother. National Poetry Month #23. For more poems like this, read Jen’s book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind! BUY THE BOOK

At 3 a.m.

We sit, five of us, naked
around the meeting table
in the office of the men
who arrive, late, in suits and ties,
and we laugh at how silly it is —
smart women, business women,
and these men
these men
insisting their way
as we play along, again

he calls me
a little girl
and we laugh

Later, in the lobby,
as I hold up a bedsheet
to my hide my self
I see across the room
the lover who loved
with shouts and shoves,
he smiles and we laugh,
embrace like old friends,
then he shape-shifts
bear, fox, jackal, demon
holds a fist up to my face
and laughs

he laughs

And I wake up
there, naked
deciphering dreams,
their train window filmstrip
passing, passing
ever so briefly
I am a part of all that I have met
and they of me
resurfacing to remind
and retell stories
I almost forgot.
But not


©2018, Jen Payne with a nod to Lord Tennyson. Photo courtesy of Pexels.


She stood at my front door,
her mousy hair now red,
her sad eyes wild in green spectacles
(not hunter, chartreuse) and exclaimed
“I have written a story about peas,
and one about carrots, too!”
It was her mad manic editorial
of a recent poem I’d written.

My hurt rebounded off the sarcasm,
formed a river no compassionate
Buddha could cross.
Funny, all I knew of Buddha then
was what she’d taught me.
First teacher. First mentor.
First guide to connect the dots of the Universe,
explain its constellations.

Now all I can see is that red hair,
those euphoric eyes turned sharp left
to back down the driveway,
my devotion dragged beneath tires.
She would crash and burn, of course.
(They always do.)
But I hear she went out on a high…
blazing love and light across
the crazy brilliant sky
in which I still find stars
and stories and faith.

©2018, Jen Payne. Photo by Neale LaSalle. More of Jen Payne’s writing can be found in her new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, available online from Three Chairs Publishing.

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth

It is so simple
there at the beginning.
There is no imposition —
or / and what imposition
is barely an itch against
that soft, soft skin
sweet, sweet skin
to kiss and kiss again.
It is so simple
there at the beginning,
before nature and nurture
nurtures nature away,
and nothing,
no nothing,
is so simple
so soft
so sweet

Poem ©2018, Jen Payne, author of Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind. IMAGE: Snake Dancer, 1910s postcard for Salon de Paris. Poem title from Genesis 2:4 (KJV).

Bear Thy Name Is Fear

If you asked me 15 years ago what my biggest fears were, I would have said 1. Spiders, 2. Public Speaking, 3. Flying.

If you asked me 10 years ago, I would have said 1. Spiders, 2. Public Speaking.

If you asked me last year, I would have told you that I love flying, had made peace with spiders, but that I would rather die than get up in front of an audience.

So, flash forward to this:

Yes. That’s me. On stage Wednesday night in a production of Thornton Wilder’s The Long Christmas Dinner by the Moses Gunn Play Company.

Now, if you’d seen me 15 years ago, in fetal-curled panic at the thought of giving a 3-minute presentation — you would understand the size of the bear that was wrestled on Wednesday.

But “a funny thing happened on the way to the theater,” as they say. There were grand moments of at-all-cost avoidance and embarrassing failures. Six months at Toastmasters and healing humor. More embarrassing failures, lots of baby steps, wise coaches, Rescue Remedy…and a few surprises. Like a 3-minute presentation. And then a 30-minute presentation. And then lines read in a play in front of a live audience.

Fear is a powerful opponent.

So is Perseverance.

©2018, Jen Payne. More of Jen Payne’s writing can be found in her new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, available online from Three Chairs Publishing.

Star Gazer

The man who
loved me forever
told me once
he slept on
Cherokee ground,
under a tent
made of stars,
…..dreaming of me.

It was mythology
of course —
his and mine.
An optical illusion,
those celestial bodies
rising forever
to dance
across the sky.

We were the ones moving
from that first, brief collision
now only starstuff



……….and poems.

If you like this poem, you’ll LOVE Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, the new book by Jen Payne. Click here to buy your copy today! ©2017, Jen Payne