Janet

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 the book I’d just written.
My hurt and insult welled up,
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.
Then all I could see was 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.

Salvation (A 50-Word Dream)

Footsteps in the distance, ominous, then dull and fading. The tunnels, he explained suddenly, were not for grief, but joy! Like God! I wanted to ask what he meant, but he slipped through a dark wet wall of mud. When I heard the music I thought — this must be salvation!
50-Word poem of sorts, ©2018, Jen Payne. Photo by Enrico Perini. 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
barely.

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).

The 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge (Yay!)

For the second time in five years, I successfully completed my Goodreads Reading Challenge, reading 50 books in 2017! In a year fraught with way too much reality, fiction was the name of the game: magical children, brave creatures, curious characters, time travelers, mystics. Yes, yes. yes!

This year’s tally of 11,193 pages otherwise included 8 books of poetry, 10 non-fiction, and 4 children’s books. Also on the list were a few Young Adult novels including the final book in Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series, as well as the Last Survivors series by Susan Beth Pfeffer. (The first of which, Life As We Knew It, remains the most haunting book I read this year.)

According to star-ratings, my least favorite books in 2017 were The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō and Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi.

There were a few other low-star rated books—mostly me wandering out-of-genre (Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Jaren Russell) or buying into hype (The Light Between Oceans, M.L. Stedman).

I was generous with my five-stars this year, but I always am. If it captures my attention, makes me wonder, keeps me interested to the final page? Yes! Bestsellers like Dan Brown, Amy Bloom, and Mary Oliver, of course, but even more so for friends and local authors like Luanne Castle, Robert Finch, Gordy Whiteman and Nan Meneely. What delights!

(Was it shameless of me to include my own book, Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, in the mix?)

A few classics showed up this year—The Long Christmas Dinner by Thornton Wilder, and A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas—and a few personal favorites returned (Thanks Elizabeth Gilbert and Alice Hoffman!)

The most memorable books of the year? Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick, and The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey.

But my most favorite (also probably most recommended) was definitely the Roland Merullo Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner with Buddha series. I thoroughly enjoyed each book with equal measure and still pine for Rinpoche’s humor and wisdom—some seven months since turning the last page.

That this year’s collection of favorites included the counsel of a Buddhist monk, pages and pages poetry, and a dystopian end-of-the-world series is not ironic. It is, I think, reflective of this new and startling world in which we find ourselves.

Thankfully, so is the book I’m reading today. In Braving the Wilderness, social scientist Brené Brown outlines a clear path out of our “spiritual crisis of disconnection” by advising that “People are hard to hate close up, move in; Speak truth to BS, be civil; Hold hands, with strangers; Strong Back, strong front, wild heart.”

And so we bravely go…2018. Are you ready? And are you reading?

BOOK REVIEW by Juliana Lightle

Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind provides an unexpected metaphor for individual life, culture, and so much more. Nearly all the poems are accompanied with a photograph, often of trash in which lays a dental flosser (yes, one of those instruments with which you floss your teeth) with date and location. Flossing is supposed to prevent anything from being left behind. Hence, the title brings up an unusual play on words.” – Juliana Lightle

>> CLICK HERE to read the full review.


This review is part of a month-long, nationwide blog tour for my new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, hosted by Wow! Women on Writing. Buy the book today!

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BOOK REVIEW by Writer Christopher Liccardi

“I have to say, this book not only struck a nerve but felt more relevant with each page I read. Jennifer has captured the seemingly inexhaustible supply of humanity in a collection of poems and street photography pictures that speak volumes about what we leave behind. ” – Christopher Liccardi

>> CLICK HERE to read the full review.


This review is part of a month-long, nationwide blog tour for my new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, hosted by Wow! Women on Writing. Buy the book today!

buynow