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
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 sarahlynrogers.com.