Categories
Creativity

9 – Seven Degrees of an Active Shooter

One – one active shooter present here in Branford

Two – 2.1 miles from my house, all roads closed

Three – all roads including the ones leading to the library and post office

Four – an active shooter is present inside the salon I went to for 23 years

Five – a video of the scene shows the shop where I bought a mop on Monday

Six – it’s taken from the window of the garden center where I buy plants and flowers and summer herbs in pots

Seven – a good friend is taking photos at the scene, hears gunshots while I call to tell her there is an active shooter here in Branford

Poem ©2021, Jen Payne. Photo by Tara Buckley as seen on Branford Patch.
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
Books Creativity Poetry

25 – Feather Juggler

They never seem heavy
just multiplicitous,
as if she stood
beneath a galaxy
of starlings,
wispy afterthoughts

…………raining

……down

from murmurations

their murmurings
perhaps,
or muses
task masters
EXPECTATIONS…..you say

perhaps

she does
make it look
easy, though
effortless,
effervescent —
bubbling over
like champagne,
watching

….it

……..fall

…………to

……..the

page

giggling

who wouldn’t kiss the rim,
let it tickle
like a feather
against your soul

then juggle
the soft ideas
aloft awhile
until something forms
in midair:

………………ideas

…….dreams

…………a poem

….of feathers

…………….floating

Image: Hand on Feathers, Martial Raysse. Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

24 – How Do You Know a Heart

To know a heart

you start

at the sweet spot

where two meet

become one,

each fills up with the other

if it’s right, a mirror,

reflection

of fullness

or open arms,

you move closer then

set down new paths

strong enough

to bear the weight,

to hold up

what you’ve set

in motion,

pull in closer

and closer

to get to the point,

the heart of the matter:

it’s the openness

that holds it all together.

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

23 – Love thy neighbor as thyself

She worries most, she says
about salvation
— afterlife, eternal life —
rarely this one
this precious one,
except about her
rights and wrongs,
her delicate walk
inside the lines;
says she worries
about me, too,
my wayward path,
its final stop,
but we agree
most days
to disagree,
find comfort in
our common path
of grade school steps
and wonderings,
of nature and of art,
of familiar faces
that look the same —
but probably don’t
now 40 years gone by —
these are the things
that just won’t change
come what may
and never mind.

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne, for Rhonda. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

22 – Earth Day 2020

Grandmother Maple
at the eastern corner of my yard
blinks with her feathered yellow lids
into the sparkling blue sky day,
embraces a family of Squirrels this year,
once it was an Owl, and long ago Raccoons.

She watches over the lone Chipmunk
who comes up late mornings to sun himself,
grass waist high and eyes alert
for the Red Tail who soars through less
now that the Osprey have returned,
and nested again nearby.

Also nesting are the pack of Jays
who ruckused all winter by the feeder,
and Mama Robin, her brood-to-be
in the Privet — oh how I try not to startle her
on my way to the mailbox,
she flies so low across the street
and I worry for her safety
most days, these days that blend
one to the next and the next.

Do you think they know?
Wonder why we’re so quiet,
not ruckusing ourselves as much?

Did the Spider who fell on my pillow last night
disregard my weighty self out of pity,
leave her to her deep, deep sleep,
her long, thick dreams,

weave a bit of compassion in her web
or leave to party with the Peepers,
dance in the moonlight under
these quiet, clear skies —
hardly missing us at all,
our heavy, unkind footsteps
upon divine Mother Earth.

IMAGE: The Merrymakers, The Merrymakers Uldene Trippe. Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

21 – The Logic of Greed

And so returns the machine,
its slow metal grind,
its teeth too hungry to wait,
for there are coffers to fill,
coffins, too, but pay no mind,
sacrifice a percent or two
for the Republic,
tithe your blood and breath
for the common good —
for god’s sake a haircut,
and a chance to worship
your false gods once more
on the courts, the screens,
in the checkout line,
at the pulpit, praise the lord,
get down on your knees
in gratitude to the great, bloated men
who saved you with empty words,
wore down your mettle
with false science,
gave up your many
to jerk off the few —
the few who won’t ever notice
your last vassal breath
as it seeps from the machine,
the sad, foul exhaust
that clouds the skies once more.

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

20 – Monday Haiku

Spider in deep thought
above the just-cleaned cat box,
considers desert.

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

19 – Not much between despair and ecstasy

Pandemic dreams
are epicurean,
dipped in the lush sleep
of slow surrender,
the deep brew of
spice and dirt,
bowls chin high,
steam rising,
she on our small bed
in Shanghai
pressed tightly
together
in the fearless dark
or he, his
whiskered cheek
against my thigh,
tangled sheets
on his knees,
distracted despite
the warning siren,
the impending
firestorm,
the heat
of the sun
too soon
to interrupt
this delicious
reverie.

Image: Photo by Xi Xi from Pexels. Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry Spirituality

18 – First Teacher

Last name long forgotten
but there at the base
of what I believe
of god and faith
and my place
in the Universe,
sits my first teacher,
fits guru—Al.

We met over
midnight coffees,
swapped donut shop
philosophies
on late night shifts,
asked questions
and tested answers
at the boundary between
martial arts, his,
and liberal arts, mine,
until the sun rose,
on the new day,
each day
that long first summer.

Pulling books from
his backseat library
I learned that
god comes in
different shapes
and different colors,
that there is no one way,
no wrong way,
no right way.
God just is,
and Al just was,

and I just was, too,
until the next summer,
when I sought out his grave
under a sinking sun
there by the long, wide river —
left a rose as thanks
and knew my search
had just begun.

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

17 – Moonshadow

Goddess eye winks from
a 6am sky, says
you’re not ready to see
what I have to tell you
,
hides herself behind
spring-bare branches,
laughs at the folly
of technology which can
only see her as a white something
against the grainy dark,
hardly refelctive at all of
her otherworldly glow,
her unseen strength,
her surprising grace
this morning while I drink coffee,
or yesterday above the Sound,
while I washed dishes,
gazed unthinking to the south.

She, a cloud almost
against the midday sky,
translucent as if vapor,
winking then too or
lid half closed in prayer
for what she sees before her,
this sweet, lonely sphere
grown silent in a shadow
not of her making,
but eclipsed instead
by its sick and dying self.
Yes, yes, now I am sure
she was praying…
for us and for you,
and for me, too,
watching her from a window
this morning transformed.

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

16 – Pandemic Perspective

The glass is half full.

The glass is half empty.

The glass is about to break into tiny shards,
fall to the floor, cut up your feet,
and incapacitate you
until April, May, or
possibly September,
could also be next year…

We’re positive we’re not sure.

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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
Creativity

Poet Jen Payne

In celebration of National Poetry Month, members of the Guilford Poets Guild were invited to share their thoughts about poetry and the life of a poet. Here’s what poet Jen Payne had to say:

How did you come to being a poet?
My Dad was a salesman and traveled a lot when I was little. We used to write letters to each other — I’d tuck mine in his suitcase, he’d mail his from the road. That’s how I started writing.

Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
Unfortunately, yes. I have an old journal full of the sad, sappy things. We’ve all gotta start somewhere, right?

What else do you write besides poetry? Do you have other creative pursuits?
I write essays about creativity, spirituality, wellness, and nature for my blog, Random Acts of Writing. And I’ve been working on some short-form memoir pieces, one of which — Water Under the Bridge: A Sort-of Love Story, is coming out as a book sometime later this spring.

What has been the defining moment in your life as a poet/writer?
I think the first defining moment was when I was 15 — a hand-written note from an editor at Seventeen Magazine thanking me for my submission. They didn’t print the article, but the editor said I showed much talent. I wore that feather in my cap for a long time!

The most recent moment would be getting to read the poems from my book Evidence of Flossing at a Guilford Poets Guild Second Thursday reading a few years ago. Wow!

How long have you been a member of the Guilford Poets Guild and what’s that like?
I was invited to be part of the Guild by Gwen Gunn and Margaret Iacobellis in 2015. We meet twice a month to share and kindly critique our work, and it’s a pretty cool experience. I mean, you’re reading your poems in a circle of award-winning, published poets including a couple of poets laureate, and they read your work and comment liberally. You’re free to take their advice, or not, but either way — I think you’re a better poet for the experience.

What inspires your writing today?
Everything and anything, really, if I let it in. Most days, though, a walk in the woods or on the beach is good for some bit of a poem.

Describe your poem-writing process.

Random muse chatter.
A couple of words buzz around. A first line.
Oh. Hmmm. Better write that down!
Scribble. Jot. Scribble. Jot.
Write. Write. Nope. Write.
Write. Write. Nope. Write.
Write. Write. Nope. Write.
Read to self.
Scribble. Jot. Write. Nope.
Scribble. Jot. Write. Nope.
Read to self.
Read to self.
Yes. Yes. YES!
Title?
Title.
Done.

Something like that. Unless you ignore those first few words. Usually then you get nothing and go on about your day without a poem.

Where do you like to write? With what?
I work from home, and I kinda live on the computer in my office. That’s where I write mostly. Except when I travel. Then I just bring a spiral notebook and some pens. Favorites are old-school blue Bic pens and Gold Fiber spiral-bound Project Planners.

Who are you favorite poets and authors?
Poets: Mary Oliver, Emily Dickinson. The first poet I ever read was Rod McKuen who still holds a special place in my heart. Shel Silverstein. Authors: Ransom Riggs, Barbara Kingsolver, Amy Tan, May Sarton, Natasha Pulley, Sarah Perry, Roland Merullo. I’ll stop now…

What book are you currently reading? (poetry or not)
The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan, Devotions by Mary Oliver, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Poem in Your Pocket Day is celebrated during National Poetry Month in April. What’s your favorite poem to carry about or share with others?
I memorized Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” in 10th grade and never forgot it. It’s my 38-year-old party trick. I don’t even need a pocket. What fun!

JABBERWOCKY
By Lewis Carroll

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe

Any last words?
Just write. Sit down, open the door and let it in. Then just write.

Jen Payne is inspired by those life moments that move us most — love and loss, joy and disappointment, milestones and turning points. Under the imprint Three Chairs Publishing, Jen has published four books: LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, FLOSSING, the poetry chapbook Waiting Out the Storm, and Water Under the Bridge: A Sort-of Love Story. Her writing has been published in numerous publications including the international anthology Coffee Poems: Reflections on Life with Coffee, the Guilford Poets Guild 20th Anniversary Anthology, and in The Perch, a publication by the Yale Program for Recovery & Community Health. Jen is the owner is Words by Jen, a graphic design and creative services company founded in 1993, based in Branford, Connecticut. She is a member of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, the Connecticut Poetry Society, Guilford Arts Center, and the Guilford Poets Guild. You can find more of her work at http://www.randomactsofwriting.net or purchase copies of her books online (click here).

Guilford Poets Guild

In celebration of National Poetry Month, members of the Guilford Poets Guild were invited to share their thoughts about poetry and the life of a poet. Here’s what poet Jen Payne had to say:

How did you come to being a poet?
My Dad was a salesman and traveled a lot when I was little. We used to write letters to each other — I’d tuck mine in his suitcase, he’d mail his from the road. That’s how I started writing.

Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
Unfortunately, yes. I have an old journal full of the sad, sappy things. We’ve all gotta start somewhere, right?

What else do you write besides poetry? Do you have other creative pursuits?
I write essays about creativity, spirituality, wellness, and nature for my blog, Random Acts of Writing. And I’ve been working on some short-form memoir pieces, one of…

View original post 875 more words

Categories
Books Creativity Poetry

15 – Quit Giving Me Gray Hair

If it was last year here,

I’d be so this year, dear —

young women dyed for this

a trend not to miss

they thought gray was dope

pushed that envelope

went silver, ash, smoke and ice

totally willing to pay the price

but mine came free, oh yes it did

my stylist and I, we blame COVID

since this year gray is not so big,

I went and bought myself a wig.

 

Image: Pink Twin, Purple Twin, Walasse Ting. Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

14 – Pandemic Mechanics

I’m trying to imagine
the giant mechanism
my homunculus
must maneuver each morning,
how enormous the
the weights and counterweights,
the mile-thick ropes and pulleys,
necessary to close off this reality

YOU SHALL NOT PASS

close off this reality
just enough so I get out of bed,
do my hair, make coffee
right-side up instead of
upside down like it feels
when I peer through the crack,
one eye closed or cautious squint
knowing I have the privilege to ask

is it safe to come out?

what’s for dinner today?

do I have time for another poem?

 

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

13 – Storm in a Pandemic

Spring storm arrives with wind and rain
that rattles windows and pushes against doors,
huffing and puffing I’ll blow your house down it growls,
but we know how this goes, we’ve done this before,
so we set out candles, search for matches, batteries,
hope the giant maple in the yard can persevere again —
check to make sure the basement doesn’t flood too badly,
that the roof in the kitchen doesn’t leak,
that I remembered to close the bedroom window —
it was warm last night…or was I?…
I wake often now, press palm against my forehead
relax when it’s only a flash and not a fever,
breathe deeply and pray when I still can
because we don’t know how that goes —
that other storm that’s still raging
that doesn’t show on the radar map
and won’t blow out to sea anytime soon,
that will still be here when the sun returns tomorrow,
when I put the candles away in the drawer,
when I look out those windows to the yard,
to the giant maple, her leaves in wait,
and my neighbor in her mask in her garden
moving dirt and planting seeds
that will grow despite the storm,
we know they will.

 

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

12 – Grave Tenders

She had promised them
and so each Easter
we gather ourselves
and the pots of
sweet Hyacinths,
the cut wire-hanger hooks,
the glass jars of water
and drive together

to Holy Savior first,
where we clear off the old stone
of her mother and father
secure flowers to the iron red earth
for them first and always
and then for her brother;
we bow our heads,
she prays and crosses herself
once for each of them,
touches the stones before leaving
as if to say, Nice to see you,
and I’ll be back.

It’s a slow and somber drive
then to Memorial Park,
past the fireman statue
to her husband’s grave.
She tends and weeds,
seems not to notice her name
carved in stone by his,
remarks at the well-mowed grass
before we leave,

drive by the place where my Dad
played cowboys and Indians,
riding the headstone
shaped like a stagecoach,
where he left toys guns in the grass
for my grandmother to find
by flashlight and shadows.

We leave hyacinths on his grave, too,
kneel together on the damp ground,
clean red dust from the bronze plaque,
touch-spell his name one more time,
listen to cars passing, and crows,
and weep fresh tears,
for this, the hardest tending.

 

Photo Photo by Brett Sayles. Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

11 – 2 Cups: An Ode to Bisquick

2 cups
then milk, sugar, egg
for sweet batter and
more with
brown sugar, cinnamon, butter
for sweeter topping
layer one onto the next
and bake until
heavenly scent insists
you make coffee for the cake

2 cups
and chopped parsley
milk, salt, pepper
dropped by heaping spoonfuls
into bubbling hot stew —
my granmother’s recipe of
chicken, carrots, celery,
with onions stuck to the underside
of buoyant dumplings, divine

2 cups
add eggs and milk
mix until smooth
smooth enough to pour
round on a griddle
then wait for bubbles
before you FLIP!
to a golden brown,
stack high and drizzle
pour, engulf, drown
with sweet maple elixir

2 cups
and milk
(yes, only milk)
don’t overmix the mix
then drop one by one
the soft, sticky dough
into rounded domes
and dream of jams,
light, creamy butter,
honey or marmalade,
berries and cream
while they rise to
biscuity perfection
before your hungry eyes

2 cups
in a pandemic make
old school coffee cake
dumplings for stew
pancakes, flapjacks, griddle cakes
(call them what you may)
biscuits, waffles…
makes a person wonder
why so many Bisquicks left on the shelf
as she wipes a crumb
from her mask
with her blue-gloved hand.

 

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing Month. Find coffee cake recipe here. You’re welcome. 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

10 – Like Tinnitus

They call it Angels’ Song,
the ever-present ring,
its high-pitch serenade,
that lulls us to weary sleep,
lulls us too awake at night,
the slow resurface to a day
not yet over, not yet begun

But the company of angels —
these singing angels —
is no more welcome than
the weight of anxious demons
woke by the great pandemic
and dancing on our chests…
……..at three while the angels trill
……..at nine while the angels chant
……..at noon while the angels croon

Demons cast down from the heavens,
their affliction of fearing
like the affliction of hearing,
a gathering of the unseen —
……..at three what we don’t know
……..at nine what we can’t control
……..at noon what we fear comes next
an omnipresent troupe
that dances in the shadows,
hums like a swarm of bees,
and sings their unyielding songs
all the livelong day.

 

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing Month. Image: Angel Piping to the Souls in Hell, Evelyn De Morgan. 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
Art Books Creativity Poetry

9 – Mind’s Eye

April

full moon

rises

 

floods

uncertain

landscapes

 

overflows

 

unravels

everything

 

and she alone

sings softly

 

Hmm mmm

Hmm mmm

Hmm Hmm mmm

 

Mind’s Eye

Moon’s Eye

Who Am I?

 

Hmm mmm

Hmm mmm

Hmm Hmm mmm

 

Mixed media collage, Mind’s Eye, and poem ©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

8 – Dream’s Landscape

They were holding umbrellas

made of stone

granite I think, pink

like the kind that seeps

from moss on my walks

by the old quarry.

Umbrellas of stone

but inverted as if

the lion winds of March

caught them off guard,

as if they were vessels now

large stone blossoms

held overhead

in a field of people

frozen in time

and waiting out a storm.

©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing Month. For more about the umbrella art installation pictured above, see “Enchanting Cloud of 1,100 Umbrellas Suspend Above a Grand Hall,” By Kristine Mitchell. 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

7 – Imposter Poet

I am no more fit for the poetic form than I was the 9-to-5 work day

I learned that lesson early…by 27 my own task master

with no rhyme or reason to the days since.

They flow as they will or they should — meant to be

whispers the woman beneath the weight anything else.

Meant to be, too, the poems.

Never sonnet or senryu

villanelle or paradelle

rondeau, rispetto, or ode.

They are short and sweet or long and leggy

begging for edits, or begging for more:

I want some more please.

What, you think a free-verse poem doesn’t beg?

Doesn’t hold itself up and ask you to decide

……….half empty or half full?

……….half-baked or baked to perfection?

But how are you to know, really?

Especially if you dance to the beat

of that different drum and the music is so loud

you can’t hear yourself think

never mind rhyme.

 

So, never mind rhyme.

I don’t, and you don’t mind me.

 

©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing Month. Photo by Tasha Kamrowski. 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

6 – Star Child

Curled small on the driveway,

only seen for the cruel contrast

black beneath pale pink white skin,

star child, squirrel child no matter

she stayed in the palm of my hand,

nuzzled into the warmth of a thumb

womb, nest, home, heaven

‘til neither of us could bear

that cold, damp morning

that cold, wet pavement

that cold and unforgiving world

©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

5 – Sunday Haiku

the day is quiet

save for the slow, soft hum

of a cat snoring

©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

4 – Pandemic Pause

The construct of time

in our pandemic pause

is such that my computer

now tells me the day —

in small letters the date, too —

and the hours move by

so slowly we seem suspended,

teetering here on trust

that the sun begins the day still,

and the dark is when we rest

and dream of crowds of people

— or that one we adore — before

the sun rises on another day as is

but another day closer, too

and find in that somewhere: Joy.


Right before the world shut down, I was working with photographer Joy Bush to promote her new exhibit at City Gallery in New Haven. We had a phone call scheduled, so I set my phone alarm: 8:50AM, Joy. That’s what inspired today’s poem. You can check out Joy’s thoughtful work on her website: www.joybushphotography.com.


©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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
Creativity Poetry

3 – Useful

It appears they mostly need it

for its usefulness:

can it produce

assist

support

respond

perform the necessary tasks

be present

be invisible

 

but there’s a deficit

in the transaction

that no one seems to notice

except me

 

©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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
Creativity Poetry

2 – Soap

It’s a small bar,
tucks into my hand
smooth and white

I’ve pulled it from
its palm-tree wrapper
the one that tells me
in small letters
Soap – Savon – Jabón

It smells like Cape Cod,
that hotel room
with the view of water,
the southern wind
just off the beach,
the cedar trees,
and fresh-washed towels,

so I sing more than 20 seconds —
maybe 40 or 60 seconds —
long enough to stay until
the sun lifts up
and I recognize the day,
my self maybe too,
in a mirror so far away.

 

This poem was featured as part of POETS OF THE PANDEMIC on the website Headline Poetry & Press, April 16, 2020.

©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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
Creativity Poetry

1 – Level Up!

He was a giant black dog

wooly from toes to eyes

— if he had them —

and every morning

on my way to school

at the end of the street

he would race down his driveway

…..growling

………..non-stop

……………full speed

………………..and full bark

full enough to scare anyone

most especially my 11-year-old self

who hadn’t quite figured out

what to do with her monsters yet

except run, run, run.

 

Then His name is Sam,

a voice yelled from a dark, dusty window

in the gray house set back from the road,

Sam, it rolled down the driveway

and across my path, a magic coin,

a power token, password — SAM

and I knew exactly what to do!

 

The next morning, I bravely stood,

hands on hips and waited

David me for Goliath he

at the end of his driveway

waited and waited and waited

until Sam came out,

…..charging

……….non-stop

……………full speed

………………..and full bark

SAM, SIT! I yelled as loudly as I could

SIT, SAM, SIT!

And then he sat.

And I did too.

First monster vanquished. Level up!

 

©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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.