Almanack Contributor George Cassidy Payne

George Cassidy Payne

George Cassidy Payne is an independent writer, domestic violence counselor, and adjunct instructor in the humanities at Finger Lakes Community College. George's blogs, essays, letters, poems, and photographs have been published in a wide variety of national and international outlets such as USA Today, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, The Buffalo News, Albany Times-Union, Syracuse Post Standard, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, The Toronto Star, The Minority Reporter, Chronogram Journal, Ovi Magazine, CounterPunch, Moria Poetry Journal, Ampersand Literary Review, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, and more.


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Poetry: Cigarette by the Campfire

 

Cigarette by the Campfire

Scanning the caramel darkness, like
a frantic panther, my cool, thick,
blossoming honey words-rise off
my face, lunging off your fingers
into the ashes, a spiritual experience
scattered into the outlines of mountains.

Yet when you flick off the universe,
I can almost see the anguished edges,
and as you hugged me, I could feel again.

Taking the first drag…

If not for that cigarette, I feared one without you,

Programmed into a phone without reception,
soft as the look of dampened embers disappearing

into a lonely campfire, so petite and luminous,
all covered in the holy, appearing out of the ashen slush.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Poetry: Do Not Google It

Do not Google it

Accept that it
slumbers over
silky nets
of sword ferns.

When daybreak
shines on them you
will know without asking.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Poetry: Tracks

I know these tracks
in my tendons.
I know this forest.

How it pounds
into the shale, like a
crumbling ravine of snow
the color of mink fur.

I know this forest. Its wisdom
returns to me from vanished
glaciers, and I hear the sleep of
beasts in tombs of rotting Hemlock.

I know that I am not alone, but
these embers of tradition
cannot be shared.

Read More Poems From The Adirondack Almanack HERE.


Saturday, April 6, 2019

Poetry: I Know This Forest

There is a forest that
I can’t get away from.
A forest of tombs still
as tree trunks. There
is a forest. The smell
of red pine needles-
the pathways of my
ancestors. There is
a forest. When I am
not alive like I usually
am. There is a forest.
When I step in mink
tracks, I know these
tracks in my tendons.
I know this forest. It
pounds into the shale,
like a crumbling ravine
of hunger. I know this
forest. Returning from
vanished glaciers. A
ghost in the temperature.

Read More Poems From The Adirondack Almanack HERE.


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Poetry: Independence River

There is a forest that I return to
when I can’t get away from the pulsations
of thinking. A forest of tombs as still
as dead tree trunks and melodious as raindrops
on red pine needles. The paths of my ancestors.

In this forest, I am not alive like I usually am.
Stepping in mink tracks, I know this place in
my tendons like a ghost knows the temperature of
fog. Here, the Independence River runs like a lovely
ribbon until it pounds into a ravine of crumbling shale.

And I know that old hunger returning from vanished glaciers.

In this forest, my arms, as I meander, wave like prayer flags
hung out to the ragged border between life and death- a place
where I can survive outside the womb. A place where I can
become a wilderness dancer touching the mud softer than ivory.

Read More Poems From The Adirondack Almanack HERE.


Saturday, February 23, 2019

Poetry: The Strand Theater

 

The Strand Theater of Old Forge

Rising from the bottom of an
unfillable sink of inside space,
the Strand Theater is a Mondrian;
its meanings come rushing over
hazy filters of digital luminescence:
a cosmology of sound and light,
blasting gigantic sweeping images,
like felled hemlocks on a forest floor.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Poetry: Wild Rhubarb

 

Wild Rhubarb

A kiss studied
is so much more beautiful
than a kiss performed.

It gives nothing away.

When I kiss my wife,
I should remember it.
It never was meant to be
a handshake. And why do
we kiss to say goodbye?

These goodbyes lasting,
stretching, crowding the horizon.

A sound is burned but a kiss is alive.
Alive like a moose scarfing wild rhubarb.


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Poetry: Earthenware

 

Earthenware

She looked at me
with curving, symmetrical
arches, and I knew right away
that souls abhor an untimely silence.

Somewhere, somewhere,
the specter of a daffodil blooms
in a radiograph. And somewhere,
somewhere, I wonder if
everything needs to be seen after all.

Yet when she looked at me, I felt
pale all over. Like uncooked chicken,
or a freshly sliced shallot, I felt the fresh
undifferentiated sameness of my mind.

A reflection under construction. Both rare
and dangerous. A meteorite falling
in North Wales or a cluster of nebulae in Hydra.

Isn’t this infinite region of emptiness fulfilling?
This vital break with the vicissitudes of life-
as they are slowly cooked in small earthenware dishes.


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Poetry: Ordinary Like Our Sun

 

Ordinary Like Our Sun

There are many kinds of deserts,
but they all reject the notion that life
should flourish. That’s gravity.

A grim background disturbing the atmosphere.

But it can’t make you fall in love, or at least that’s
what Einstein said. With an exquisite fussiness,

it intones mystical equations
and leaks blood in -alabaster basins.

Gravity is a creature of two nights; it feels a certain kind
of anxiety in the litany, so it shakes the earth from the flesh,
as if the beast itself might sabotage the magic trick.

Like jumbled chunks of sea ice, always creating dead ends,
it is becalmed in an ocean of sand, or bread slathered with honey.

That’s gravity.

An oracle of falsehood always driven by the illumination
of alternative futures. It soaks in the nectar-laden flowers
waking to the touch, a fragile fiberglass skin. Ordinary like our sun.


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Poetry: When I Look Up

 

When I Look Up

When I look up
I see the quiet survival
of the solar system.

I see the outbursts of
constellations and
the disturbing meaning
of the Milky Way.

When I look up
I see the penetration of the
corona, a universe of stars,
the way Galileo saw it,

all ionized and catastrophic.


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Poetry: From the Beginning

 

From the Beginning

There is a hush
from the beginning
of time, where you
can hear yourself blink.

There is a hush,
where a minute ago
we were two million miles
closer to this cluster than
we are now.

There is a hush
when we realize how it is
that we belong at the limit
of the powers of observation.

There is a hush
when the universe evolved
from the static.

I shall return to the hush.

I shall return in a moment
to the conditions which might
have existed at the beginning.

To a hush which can no longer be
distinguished from nothingness.


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Poetry: The Way Galileo Saw It

 

The Way Galileo Saw It

When I look up
I see the quiet survival
of the solar system.
I see the outbursts of
constellations and
the disturbing meaning
of the Milky Way.
When I look up
I see the penetration of the
corona, a universe of stars,
the way Galileo saw it,
all ionized and catastrophic.


Saturday, December 29, 2018

Poetry: One Piece at a Time

 

One Piece at a Time

Asleep by the sound of a time
before winter-a time when the
mountains were still graced with
the warm scent of unsmelted iron.
Rising like Asimov’s balloon,
you make me feel like a sacrament
of dewdrops dropping on a syrupy
absinthe green arborvitae below.
Holding one of your wind scourged
teardrops, you make me feel the grit,
one piece at a time


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Poetry: Grace Peak

Grace Peak

Down where fingers
hold a wind
scourged turbulence,

lurid and buried
in the fractures,

your mountain grace
blisters like iron smelted,

and the mosaic of your
eyes light all over.

Wrapped in cold teardrops,
below the grit of exiled scents,

at your peak I feel astronomical,

like Asimov’s balloons rising
through a diaphanous fog.


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Poetry: After the Flowers

After the Flowers

Into the hush a mother
needs when she strokes
the soft temples of her infant
son, outside the dewdrops
emerge once more. After the
flowers are gone, on a blanket
of peat moss, feeding the frogs
and snakes, they emerge,
hurtling toward the starved
emptiness of another daybreak.