A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 



If Mary Oliver Gave Me CPR

Mary Oliver, 
if you were here I would ask you
to sit beside me in my bed and
read to me, to smooth the hair back from
my ears and speak of perennials in bloom,
or wild geese in the morning,
of our bodies and their beauty or of love,
and all it means to be alive.

I would ask you to open my shades
and let in the light, to let me borrow your
huge glasses through which you see the world
as a shimmering summer, its darkness blocked out
with the sunny sheen of all your precious miracles.

but Mary, you aren't here
and I don't know how I can possibly believe you,
while I am stranded here,
crippled by my flannel sheets,
unmoving in my mattress pose, and please,
just go, but no one comes, so I do not even have
to ask to be alone.

Mary, tell me that it's okay to
grieve for losses without names,
for days I haven't lived and lovers
without cause to cry for. 

Because I just cannot find poetry in everything,
because sometimes there is no glean of hope
to cradle you. Because this hurt is just hurt,
this wound is just blood, this bed is just soft and
this body, just tired.

Because sex is just sweat and smells and skin,
because life is just breath and time,
because even you must wallow, even you must
shake your head in doubt,
but still you speak of trees and blessings
as though they were your children but did you not
mourn then, when your lover died?
How did the poems of her grace comfort you in
the empty home you made with her?

Because Mary, the moon is not always full, and if
it were it wouldn't matter, but if you were
here, maybe you could whisper something to me in the dark and
it would be our secret.
Because I have
never found the glorious depth to my own existence
nor tasted the flavor of my own soul or given
God a color or the streets a song.

I have given myself over to a sadness without
a story, a sallow Winter skin without the mountain air to cure me.
Because my door is closed, because this wool is warm,
because I don't know how to teach myself a lesson about truth or triumph.

Mary, I will let you in. I will let you feed me broth,
I will let you draw my bath and nurse me back to health with
lines and structure. But please Mary, tell me what it feels like
when you hurt, tell me it's okay to feel desperate and alone,
tell me I'm not selfish for this emptiness and then fill me up, Mary
fill me up, and breathe into me.


For as long as I can remember, when any friends or family take a trip to somewhere new, to bring me back a souvenir. The souvenir can be a multitude of things, with two stipulations: a) It did not cost any money and b) It is from the earth. Over time I have received many little trinkets and found objects from all over the world, but my favorite one has a pretty epic backstory. As a dear friend of mine embarked on a trip to Turkey, I asked him to bring me back my usual requested token. When he returned some weeks later, he handed me what looked to be a chunk of shiny cement. I was ready to take it without further inquiry, but he quickly pulled back his arm and asked, "Don't you want to know where it comes from?" My curiosity now piqued, I asked. This little bauble, it turns out, came from the ancient Temple of Artemis; just a wee chunk of marble plucked from its historic burial grounds where it was excavated in the 17th century. He explained that it was probably totally not cool to just run off with a piece of ancient history, but that the temptation to bring me back something so epic could not just pass him by. It now lives with the rest of my earthen souvenirs, but truth be told, I think the rest of them must feel a little inadequate. 


Lauren Singer is a Massachusetts based writer with roots in New York. A recent graduate of the University of Chicago's social work program, she now works full-time as a clinical therapist in Holyoke, MA. In addition to her practice, Lauren runs a recovery-based, trauma-informed writing group, has had poetry published in literary magazines all over the country (and beyond!), and has self-published several chap books. Lauren is also a regular staff judge at for the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest and the Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction and Essay Contest. She freelances as a humorist and literary editor and has performed as a feature poet in venues across the country. For booking, editing, and friendly correspondence, she can be reached at