Shrunken Head Revealed as Mary Oliver’s Key to Success

Talisman resided in a box on Oliver’s writing desk, safe from any religious objects capable of harming its blasphemous skin

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Poet Mary Oliver sitting and reading to a shrunken head and dog.

In an announcement that shocked members of the literary community, the estate of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver announced today that her “good luck charm” for completing all of her zen writing projects was a shrunken head from the jungles of Brazil.

“We realize that this news might come as a surprise to many of Mary’s readers,” said the representative for Ms. Oliver’s estate. “It should not, however, detract from the beauty and catharsis fans glean from her poetry. Just because Mary wrote her greatest pieces while staring into the cavernous eye sockets of her hideous trinket, doesn’t mean her contributions to literature were any less brilliant.”

Oliver came across the talisman deep in the Amazon rainforest while on one of her inspiring wilderness journeys. On a good day, she could produce three to five poems before paying the “blood tax” the head required.

A Lifelong Partnership

Oliver and the head were inseparable throughout her career. The famed poet reportedly brought the talisman with her anywhere writing might occur, even going so far as to hide it in the trees around her house the night before a hike. She enjoyed the challenge of “re-discovering” the charm, and took each discovery as an organic sign to write. Any passersby would have seen Mary shimmying up the trunk of the selected tree, sweating and straining to reach the skull hanging there like a piece of withered fruit.

Poet Mary Olive holding a shrunken head.

The head was unfortunately unavailable for viewing at the time of the press conference, having crumbled into foul-smelling dust upon Oliver’s death, per the agreement struck between her and the Amazonian witch doctor who sold it to her.

A long-lost collection of poems dedicated to the talisman, tentatively titled Songs for Tsantsa (My Lucky Shrunken Head), is due for release this December.

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