Sarah Lyn Rogers: Guided Meditation
Photo: Joanna C. Valente

Photo: Joanna C. Valente

Guided Meditation with Dead Musician


Okay, close your eyes, deep breath.

As if it wasn’t enough, the years

spent rotating the same five CDs

feeling some resonance beyond


the actual notes, the nimble-

fingered descants over bass line

melodies that thrummed through

your teenage body, soundtrack


of your first car, the red one

low to the ground and three

years older than your own

shy self, girl driving alone


at night to and from the boys

who didn’t quite know you,

or friends who wanted to

but didn’t either, not that


you let them. Felt like no one

but the singer with spiderweb-

thin delivery could understand

a constant low-level sadness


rising ecstatically to the top

of your consciousness with certain

chord changes. This is what my soul

sounds like, you were embarrassed


to think, but thought anyway, for he

who felt kindred but had died

six months before you’d heard

of him. All anyone can ever


think to say is R.I.P. in comments

under videos and song lyrics.

R.I.P., R.I.P., as though death

is what he is.


Maybe they can’t see themselves

in the scenes, sitting alone

in a dim bar, walking alone

to a fight, waiting alone for a train


alone alone often alone but resonant

beyond physical space, beyond his

human body—


the way you are now

breathing, listening, existing


inside yourself and also

somewhere with no name.



is where we meet.

Guided Meditation with Mean Voice


Oh, so we’re doing this again.


Okay, breathe in, close your eyes,

you fucking loser, what makes

you think you deserve any time,


always behind in the mornings,


misplaced your keys, can’t find

the shoes you wanted, O

enlightened being, that’s rich.


The problem is you, the part

that covets self-destruction

despite your stated intentions—


isn’t that right? Some defect,


admit it, desire for failure,

the reason your brain races

and you phone-scroll aimless


the reason your body doesn’t want


to wake before noon, or fall to sleep

before two. If you were good, couldn’t

you handle all you were handed,


keep your home spotless clean,

call everyone who might be lonely?

Thicken your skin, practice old etiquette,


never need? Why can’t you measure up


to what they want? Everyone’s a critic

though none so terrible

as this insistent, private hissing.

Guided Meditation with Inner Child


She’s you, but small, little sprout

ponytail, bare feet, crooked grin

scoopable, mischievous, one eye

closing slightly on the side that

smiles bigger than the other. You

would never say such harsh words

to her, never push her to exhaustion

or starvation, never sacrifice her

to save face. She gets restless

she needs quiet, she needs time

alone to tinker, to doodle

to recharge. She needs water

a nap, an afternoon snack.

She wants to climb a tree

concoct a potion, throw ashes

in the air like blasts of smoke.

She needs to cry sometimes

and chase the cats. She needs

to know there’s nothing to prove

no formula that means now she’s

allowed. Hold her and you’ll feel it.

Guided Meditation with Gramps


Close your eyes and there he is, alive

but younger than you knew him, hair

still brown, rocking that unibrow.

He carries a walking stick, because

he always did. You are hunting

for arrowheads in Florida’s soft

soil, eyes alert for snakes and when

you see one, you both jump over

like in the story from when he was

four years old and knew they were

bad news, inherited the warning

from a long line of primates

including your great-grandmother,

who trusted Stalin but not modern

medicine. Battle-axe who made him.

When you look again, he is younger

still, and shoeless, with a rifle

on his back and two hunting dogs,

Betty Boop Beagle and Terry.

You are walking to the tin shacks

in the woods where he was raised.

Maybe you walk along a river

or stream, who knows what kinds

of trees are there, just fill in

with your imagination. Before

the shacks, there’s a dirt path,

forked, a literal crossroad. This

is where he’ll leave you. Ask anything

you think he’ll be able to tell.

Sarah Lyn Rogers is an NYC-based writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the editorial assistant for Soft Skull Press, a contributing editor for Catapult, and was formerly the fiction editor for The Rumpus. She is the author of Inevitable What, a poetry chapbook focused on magic and rituals, and is seeking a home for Cosmic Tantrum, a full-length poetry collection. For more of her work, visit