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The Silence of the Siren

“Now the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence. And though admittedly such a thing never happened, it is still conceivable that someone might possibly have escaped from their singing; but from their silence certainly never.” ~Franz Kafka
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She’s got no fins, no tail either.
Just that mouth, red cherry halves split
into hearts. Just that set of lungs that
let her breathe under this teeming
sea of men who come
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to the dance floor, sway and bow
before her feet, worship those tiny
white toes peeking from leather,
kiss those arches planted
on knifed heels. What comes
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out of those lungs isn’t music,
isn’t sound. You can’t call it song.
That’s too worldly, too solid, too plain.
It’s breath, life blood, spilled out for coin.
Years ago, she came
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from a different ocean, drowning
for attention, adoration, love.
Now, she wiggles her hips, lets a
slip of white thigh surface beneath
her glittered green dress. Come
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dry land or high water, she’s made it
till closing time, that long dark walk
to the back row, where she puts her feet
on the back of a chair, begins that long
slow process of coming
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down. Cigarette. Lighter. Soaking her
tongue in a straight glass of gin
until it’s so numb it can’t remember
the words. In the silence, the rest,
she becomes
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About This Poem: I’m working on a short story about sirens, and I came across the quote yesterday while I was doing some research. It seemed like a good opportunity to tackle something I was covering in my fiction from a poetic standpoint as well. The ending on the word “come” at each stanza happened accidentally the first two times and then I decided to run with it and just see what happened. Also, I should give credit where credit’s due: I saw a singer in New Orleans last year that completely blew me away. She’s now appeared in at least two stories of mine, and is probably the singer in this poem as well.

About Poem-A-Day: For the month of April (National Poetry Month), I’ve signed on to write a poem-a-day (eeks!). To make it slightly easier on myself, my rules are that I have to write each poem in fifteen minutes or less, and that I have to post it here on the blog as soon as I’m done. No edits. Just rough. Raw. Right out of the gate. (Of course, if you’re playing along, I hope you’ll post a link to your poem in the comments here — mainly because I’m selfish and I want to read them!)

See all my Poem-A-Day poems here.

You can also read some amazing poems-a-day over at Sage Cohen’s blog.

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