George Cassidy Payne – 3 poems

Self-Portrait as a Sea Turtle


They say that all vertebrate embryos
look alike. But only my shoulder bones
slide inside the rib cage, and only my
shell is made from the empty space of


those ribs fusing to become a wall
that will keep me hidden from the world.


A philosopher once asked me, in front
of an entire galaxy of fishes, why I don’t
grow my shoulders inside the rib cage
from the beginning? “I don’t know,” I replied.
“Like you, I am a mystery of evolution.”



Scorpio in Tarot


You bore me.
Detached. Peeled
off. You tease me
like a key that does
not fit the lock. You
chain me. Tossed to
the wind. Rising. From
the perky filth. You
squander me. Even if
there are things to learn.
You pulled me. The death




Watching you
keep my time


The mind wears
only language.


Simple words.
words. A hand


rising on the
chest. Clothes
kicked off the bed.


Black ion plated
stainless with a
green leather strap.




George Cassidy Payne is interested in the intersection of poetry, social justice, representations of spirituality and concepts of self. He’s a part-time professor of philosophy at the State University of New York (SUNY) and teaches workshops focusing on writing and philosophy. He holds a master’s degree in philosophical theology from Emory University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals, including Barnstorm JournalChronogram MagazineAdelaide, the Adirondack AlmanacTea HouseThe Mindful WordInk, Sweat, and Tears, the Scarlet Leaf ReviewThe Writing DisorderCalifragileZingara Poetry ReviewDeep South MagazineAllegro Poetry Review and several others. His debut full-length collection, A Time Before Teachers, was released in 2019 from Cholla Needles Literary Press.