The Way of Zen

is to climb
the flattest place
on earth. To
become a geologic
paradox. To crack
into the Earth,
like a creative
carving of erosion.
The way of Zen
is when fire meets
ice, like a thundering
waterfall made quiet by
the sacred nature of rocks.


You know we can give
each other a crunchy leaf
in the fall. We can hail again
from a lineage of storytellers.
We can be unreliable, enjoying
different versions of ourselves.

Sensual Machine

The body is a
spiritual experience
through which the brain
generates music.
Rabid, shamanistic,
too close to the edge—it
lunges into the ashes.
The body is a canoe looking
up at the sky. In our first hour
of walking onshore, we enter
a portal of flowing azaleas, black
cherry and the Santanoni Mountains
on the horizon. The body.
Beyond our control. Turning
into sudden silence, like scarlet gold
on the anguished faces of drifting lovers.

The Plantation

I am sick of the plantation.
Kentucky’s bourbon, barreled
finished with oak staves.

I am sick of the plantation.
McDonald’s hamburgers
splayed out like a crime scene.

I am sick of the plantation. Garnishes
on cocktails, and automatic rifles, too.
Sick of a universe with too much control.

Passing Through

Like a scientist trying to prove
their own theory wrong, the
desire to find the other side
is all that matters. There are
no gates. There is no heaven.
There is just a way to pass through.

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George Cassidy Payne is a poet from Rochester, New York (U.S.). His work has been included in such publications as the Hazmat Review, MORIA Poetry Journal, Chronogram Magazine, Ampersand Literary Review, The Angle at St. John Fisher College and 3:16 Journal. George’s blogs, essays and letters have appeared in Nonviolence Magazine, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Pace e Bene, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, the Havana Times, the South China Morning Post, The Buffalo News and more.

image: George Payne