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Poetry Moment: 'Lullaby in Fracktown' by Lilace Mellin Guignard

Poet Lilace Mellin Guignard
Sarah Midden Photography
Poet Lilace Mellin Guignard

Poetry Moment on WPSU is a program featuring the work of contemporary Pennsylvania poets. Host Todd Davis is a professor of English and Environmental Studies at Penn State Altoona.

This episode’s poem is “Lullaby in Fracktown” by Lilace Mellin Guignard.

Lilace Mellin Guignard lives with her husband and two kids in Wellsboro, a small Victorian town in rural Tioga County, a northcentral county with a long history of extractive industry. She previously taught creative writing at Mansfield University and is currently Associate Publisher of Mountain Home magazine. Lilace leads writing workshops at Hunt Country Winery, when not busy with the local community theatre or outside paddling, hiking, or hunting. Her poetry has been published in Northern Appalachia Review, Ecotone, Calyx, and Poetry magazine. Young at the Time of Letting Go, her chapbook, was published by Evening Street Press.

Lullabies are meant to soothe our fears, to offer a sense of security and calm so we can fall to sleep and dream good dreams. How to sing a lullaby in the face of the many environmental crises we face, crises many of us help to make. Pennsylvania continues to be a state where the extraction of coal or natural gas or timber provides economic gains in the short term but negative, even catastrophic, impacts on the environment in the long term.

Here's —

Lullaby in Fracktown

Child, when you’re sad put on your blue shoes.
You know that Mama loves you lollipops
and Daddy still has a job to lose.

So put on a party hat. We’ll play the kazoos
loud and louder from the mountain top.
Child, when you’re sad put on your blue shoes

and dance the polka with pink kangaroos,
dolphin choirs singing “flip-flop, flip-flop.”
Hey, Daddy still has a job to lose—

don’t be afraid. Close your eyes, snooze,
because today our suns have flared and dropped.
Tomorrow when you wake, put on your blue shoes.

Eat a good breakfast. Be good in school.
Good boys go to college goody gumdrops
so someday too you’ll have a job to lose.

Waste trucks clatter by as the gray bird coos.
Flames pour forth when the faucet’s unstopped.
Child, when you’re sad put on your blue shoes.
For now, Daddy still has a job to lose.


That was “Lullaby in Fracktown” by Lilace Mellin Guignard.

Hear more episodes of Poetry Moment at

Music by Eric Ian Farmer.

Todd Davis is the 2022-23 host of "Poetry Moment" on WPSU.