Poetry: Selections from Holly Payne-Strange

Gemstone Sea
The care package sits there,
A threatening haze of emeralds and washed up diamonds.
Has to be sent, has to be sent, has to be sent
Don't want to.
So much on each side of the scales.
A cold blooded fear
What if failure lies in the attempt?
What if inaction spells the start of the end?
What if it’s needed,
Really needed,
A king's ransom in toothpaste and dish soap.
What if he’s dead already?
Glass smashed upon the rocks,
Never to be modified by the sea.
Ultimately all I can do is try.
A forty dollar prayer
Winging its way to him.
Godspeed, my effervescent doom,
And good luck to us both.
I breathe in,
Feathers fall to dust.  

Roses take time to bloom.
Songbirds learn from the internet now,
Comparing feather and beak.
We went on a shopping spree today,
Pink silk shirts
And a flowing dress.
Snow melts easy these days.
So different to the first time we went out
Before she’d picked her name
When she was too shy
To trill at the shop attendants
As if certain afraid someone would jump up and scream
“Got you, you male manly man man!” Just for breathing in
Their perfumed sighs.
A once frigid boundary now easily crossed,
Lungs filled with starlight
And alchemy in her blood.
What a lovely place to nest.

Shrill and Serene
A subject impossible to avoid.
Yet still she tries,
Meandering into fantasy
Like side streets
In some far away land.
Musing at how nice Crete must be
This time of year.
Fleets of goats running down mountains,
Enough fetta to sink a ship.
It’s not that she’s afraid.
She’s not.
She’s ready and she knows it.
It’s that birds do not turn back into seeds
And with each slice, crystals build into a sharper point.
This week is the week. It has to be said.
No more excuses.
So she buys her self happiness,
Frivolous like a shrill laugh.
Finally, taking a deep breath, she dives
Deep into the sky
What stars look like
On the other side.

Holly Payne-Strange (she/her) is a novelist, poet and podcast creator. Her writing has been lauded by USA Today, LA weekly and The New York Times. Her  next novel, All Of Us Alone, will be a recommended read for Women Writers, Women’s Books in December 2023.  She’s had her poetry published by various groups  including  Door Is A Jar magazine, In Parenthesis, Quail Bell Magazine, and will soon be featured in Academy Heart, among others. She would like to thank her wife for all her support.