Categories
Creativity

The Messy Business of Creating

In her heartbreakingly wonderful book This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart, photographer Susannah Conway explains that writing is “a vocation that pays out twice: first to you as the detective unraveling your heart and then again to the reader who consumes your work.”

This echoes a conversation I had recently with my dear friend Judith who reminded me that the life-changing moment for a writer is not necessarily being published, or even being read. The life-changing moment is the creative spark, that white hot moment of inspiration.

The rest, as they say, is gravy. More or less… (Read More)

Categories
Family Memoir Writing

Life Lessons from Dad

Study hard, be smart.

Weigh the pros and cons of your decisions.

Stand on your own two feet.

Hard work is a key to success.

Dream big.

Love what you love with passion.

When you fall off a horse, get right back on.

Laugh a lot and often…

and you’ll come out on the other side just fine.

That’s my dad and me, college graduation 1988. Today would have been his 78th birthday. Life is fleeting — perhaps that is the biggest lesson of all.
Categories
Creativity mindfulness Nature Writing

The Healing Process

The storm took so much it’s difficult to consider — gone the familiar, the known path. Feet so sure there was no need to gauge progress. It was how I became present again, how I stepped back in the moment.

It was where I could breathe, let go, release my rooted stride. Slough off thoughts. Embrace the solitude with just a heartbeat and birdsong for company.

But her wide canopy of solace is gone now, and I have been hobbled.

Those sacred spaces of breath and respite are changed.

And so am I.

So I take a different path this morning and it comforts me.

It whispers…

This rabbit will caretake the old path.

This turtle, hopeful, lays its eggs. As does the robin.

Part of this snake is here but its heart has moved forward,

and this spider writes her poems in the spaces left behind.

Essay ©2021, Jen Payne. If you like this essay, be sure to purchase a copy of my book LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, available here.
Categories
Creativity Writing Zine

Spinning Jenny

Volume S of our 1976 Encyclopedia Britannica collection did not have much to say about the Spinning Jenny. What it was: an early machine for spinning wool or cotton. Who created it: James Hargreaves from Lancashire, England. When: 1764. And a short sentence about its significance in the industrial revolution.

I can still see the two-sentence paragraph description and its line drawing of the Spinning Jenny sitting on the page. What I could not see at the time was the 500-word essay being requested by my 6th grade social studies teacher Mr. Jacobson.

So I did what any good writer would do. I improvised!

What is a spinning wheel used for? How does it work? Where does the wool and cotton come from? What was life like in Lancashire? What was life like in 1764? Who was James Hargreaves? What was the industrial revolution?

Et voila! Essay.

Pulling from different sources, I spun together that essay and earned an impressive A- for my effort.

Ironically, one of the reasons the Spinning Jenny was so important is that it allowed a worker to use multiple spindles of material in the forming of thread.

Fast forward 40-something years, and I am still spinning. Still pulling from multiple sources to form threads of thought that get woven into my writing and creative work.

I love the experience of that process. Going down the rabbit hole of “what do we have here?” and finding winding paths to all sorts of unexpected discoveries.

I love the organic nature of those discoveries — what reveals itself as I walk along those paths. A bit like Alice, I suppose, wandering and Wondering in that strange, unexplored land.

I love the challenge of digging deeper to find some key piece of information that completes the story. I love doing research and following breadcrumbs.

The best part, of course, is when it can all finally come together. Tie off all of the threads, weave the ends together. See the conclusion of the hard work: the poem, the book, the zine, this essay.

I suppose, if you think about it, that make me a Spinning Jenny, wouldn’t you say?

©2021, Jen Payne, but only 360 words. For more good words, check out my Etsy Shop now!

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
Memoir Poetry Writing

Identity Theft

I look
in the mirror
and see nothing.
Pieces of familiar fall away.
Sticks poke at what’s left.

Start from scratch
or use a box mix?
Put square peg
in square hole…
that’s never been my style.

I take a walk
to get answers.
Insert A into B, get C.
But all I see is ocean.
Vast and unresolved.

IT doesn’t seem
to need answers.
In. Out. Back. Forth.
Up. Down. [Repeat.]
I take my cue and leave.

It’s OK. Really.
I was bored with me anyway.
If you please,
may I see something
in a polygon?

Poem ©2008, Jen Payne. Image: Girl in front of mirror, Pablo Picasso

If you like this poem, you’ll LOVE the Divine Intervention issue of MANFEST (zine)

Categories
Living Poetry Wellness Writing

Transubstantiation

Be the change you wish to see in the world — be the change you fear.

Serve it up in bite-size pieces and make peace with it because resistance is futile.

Change comes and change comes and change comes
and you change and you change and you change.

Extra change in your pocket
is just reserve for the next detour.

Recalculating.

Better to live in fluidic space, liquid and organic,
bending time, not biding,
moving from here to there effortlessly.

Gracefully.
Gratefully.

Because an object at rest stays at rest
but an object in motion stays in motion

and we all know it’s the motion in the ocean that counts.

Poem ©Jen Payne

If you like this poem, you’ll LOVE the Divine Intervention issue of MANFEST (zine)

Categories
Family Memoir Writing

The View From Here: August 31

The View From Here: August 31

The view from here today is this: a shelf in my office. A still life snapshot: longtime friend Winne the Pooh, introduced to me by my Dad when I was a baby; my UMass diploma; the when-in-Paris photo with my friend DeLinda; a Wonder Woman mug; and the very last photo I have of my Dad.

He died less than two weeks later, August 31…twenty-five years ago today.

I always think: I’m glad I asked him to take off his sunglasses that day, because you can see his eyes in this photo. How they connect up with his smile, mirror his laugh.

I always think — if I look hard enough — I’ll see an angel hovering above our heads, hidden in the shadows, waiting.

I remember that day: a cousin’s wedding, the whole family together for the first time in 20 years, his laugh while he played on the floor with his great-nephew, the feeling of not wanting to leave, of wanting just a few more minutes with him.

Now it’s a photo that says more than I can ever tell you. And it sits on a shelf, next to the love he introduced, next to the education he encouraged and the travel he inspired. On a shelf, and on shoulders strong enough to carry all of that forward.

And more: me, Wondering through this life without and yet so very much WITH him. Every day.

©2020, Jen Payne
Categories
Wellness Writing

11 Years and Counting

ARE YOU READY TO STOP SMOKING?

Get support — it takes a village.

Read Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking.

And STOP.

If I can, you can, too.

I promise.

Categories
Nature Poetry Spirituality Writing

Everything is connected…

The new white tuft in my hair
reminds me of the rabbit
who lived in my yard last spring.

I called her Idiom,
soft brown fur, also white tufted,
she taking time to smell roses
when I could not.

Now there is all the time in the world
to smell roses,
to smell daffodils, tulips, lilacs, iris, peonies
each in succession, not waiting for us
or virus or waves or protests or
the great collective consciousness to
wake the fuck up and see how it’s all connected
the microscopic virus,
the pandemics of greed and hate,
the white tuft in my hair,
the small new rabbit,
the small new baby, even
who mews like all new creatures
white, black, furred, feathered
who may or may not outrun the fox
to meet the multiflora rose next June
introduce themselves to the clover
its bumble and honey companions
I step softly over so as not to disturb
their humble prayers or mine
to a god who needs no standard,
requires no bloodletting,
asks no more than sweet, simple reverence

for everything.


©2020, Jen Payne.


Categories
Memoir Poetry Writing

Reading Mary Oliver in a Pandemic

I’m reading Mary Oliver again
and for the first time, too, it seems,
meeting once more my kindred
in these quieter, solitary days —
only she likes dogs and I’m allergic, so
I think of the love I’ve shared with cats
and superimpose that over
what she so easily offers on the page,
allowing me to sink my feet
deep into the sand of beaches we love,
find borrowed respite and fresh salt air
as she walks and they walk and we walk.

This is not unlike my general effort of late,
translating dogs into cats,
crumbs into cake, lemons into aid,
finding devotion somewhere
in the twists and turns of what is,
of here and now, of no I don’t love dogs but I do love you,
and damn it someone should write that down
to remember before it’s too late.

Like Mary did:
gathered up all of her words
her favorite words, her treasured words
her words so precious and important
they required devotion
in this heavy record
of everything she wanted to say
and everything she held in silence

which

sometimes

is all we can offer each other.


Poem ©2020, Jen Payne upon reading Devotions by Mary Oliver. Photo from Pexels.

Categories
Memoir Poetry Writing

The Afghan

For Dorothy Reitbauer

“This,” my friend says, “is lovely.”
Lovely is never a word
I use to describe the ugly afghan
crocheted by my grandmother
and dragged out of storage
when guests sleep on the sofa.

It is avocado green and orange,
milk chocolate brown,
and amber gold,
like the gold my parents
painted the kitchen
of our new house back then.

“She picked each color herself,”
my friend explains,
as she carefully runs her fingers
up and over the zigzag pattern
with awe and affection,
though she never
met my grandmother.

It is the color palette
of my seventies family,
when Mom and Dad
were almost-happy still,
my sister played with Barbie
by the sliding glass window,
and my bangs were
appropriately feathered
away from my face.

“She thought about
you and your family
with each stitch.”

I could see her then,
sitting in her green recliner,
counting stitches like
the beads on her Rosary.
Love Boat on the Sylvania,
drinking instant iced tea
while a cigarette smokes
from the ashtray.

It was after her husband died,
and she traveled with her dog Coco,
bringing Shoo Fly Pie and
Moravian Sugar Cake from
Pennsylvania to our house
in Connecticut.

That Christmas,
she crocheted ponchos for us, too,
and took me to Hawaii
to see my Grandfather’s name
carved in marble at the
Pearl Harbor Memorial,
watch as she traced his name
with her fingers, slowly.

The same deft hands
that crafted this blanket
raised a son and daughter
independently in the fifties;
folded in prayer
for neighbors and friends;
prepared feasts
with love
for grandchildren.

“So much thought went into this,”
my friend continues,
as we carefully fold the afghan
and place it on top
of the antique hope chest
in the corner.

“Each stitch, each row,
holds love and memories.”

 

©2009, Jen Payne. Written for my grandmother, Dorothy Reitbauer. Seen here in 1943/44.

Categories
Creativity Nature Poetry

29 – Getting Out

I’m in the woods.
Grandgirl says
as she steps her
wee self off the trail
and into the leaves
then gallops
ahead to chase
the butterfly
see the meadow
I’m in the woods!

he says, too,
as Nephew leaps
from the inside
breathes the outside
and careens
down a path
in front of us
climbing rocks
light saber at the ready
running
running
running

I’m in the woods!

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. For Max and Lia. 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

28 – There was something I wanted to say but…

my thoughts these days
are like cormorants.

Do you know cormorants?

Now you see ‘em
Now you don’t

Sometimes in reverent prayer
sometimes flying high
then swimming, diving and

GONE!

So you sit back against a rock
and wait for them to resurface
come back

one Mississippi
two Mississippi

three or four or ten Mississippies later
they show back up

rise to the surface
so you can go back to your day.

 

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

27 – Little Blessings

She won’t remember
these days I didn’t play,
didn’t get down on the floor
with Abby and Coda
to rock the babies,
didn’t bark like a dog,
hide her from Grandpa lion,
or make the earth quake
Boom Boom Boom!

She’ll forget the missing
hide-and-seek,
the blanket tent,
the book we didn’t read,
the one of us who wasn’t
stealing blocks
or great little hugs
or selfies……….not again

For now she just remembers
to seek the mask-hid smile
to lean hard in for half a hug,
to blow a kiss, six feet big
to sing a See ya later!
as I turn away to leave
this sweetest little blessing
is the memory I get to keep.

 

Image: Poem ©2020, Jen Payne, for Lia with Love. 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

26 – Trickster Dreams

The fox who darted just out of eyesight yesterday morning while I poured coffee is screaming

mid-night screaming

so I half-wake, check for the cat, glance at the clock, tumble back into our trip to New York

a brilliant spring day, sunshine and pink trees, a street cafe/coffee shop amalgamation of people

it’s pungent loud, crazy and beautiful

You’re up ahead buying a hand-knit mask, balancing your coffee and flowered purse

I’m pacing by the India-print tunics, on the phone with the ex-lover only you know about, flirting in that way we do so no one overhears

and before I can say I Love You goodbye again to you there in the City on that wonderful city day or to him again on the phone

I’m riding in a pick-up careening through the copse where the screaming fox lives, smashing head-on into a great old beech

its fox-copper leaves jingle like bells to wake me for the day

 

Image: Poem ©2020, Jen Payne, for Mary Anne Siok on her birthday. 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

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…

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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.