March 10, 2010

Siren Song (RWP #117)

(photo courtesy of Photobucket)

I had a devil of a time trying to figure out this prompt idea with it's "hinge" (having a sharp, divisive change within a poem). Here is my feeble attempt I left out most punctuation on purpose, hopefully giving it a seductive, whispering quality. Tell me if you think it works.

On a soft, warm evening
with dew-slicked grasses
and heat lightning flashes
adventure’s afoot
for anyone willing
to see with night eyes
and hear crickets fiddling
buzzing and teasing
“come on, come on.”

Through dark passageways
of tall tasseled cornstalks
their leathery leaves
slap small tanned legs
while toads trill tales
to speed the way
and fireflies wink
their magical code of
"follow us, follow us.”

To a stream-side black
with a thick sludgy mudbank
and tangled-web willows
full of night owls cajoling
while the moon slyly beckons
upon irresistible waters
so quietly lapping
as the bullfrogs beg
"join us, join us.”

On a fog-shrouded morning
through torn, trampled cropland
with barking hounds leading
the morbid parade
of stoic-faced searchers
near a dank, filthy ditch
with it’s unwanted knowledge
and a mother that whispers,
“please no, please no.”

When very small, I was told the precautionary tale of another child who wandered away from her family one summer evening to be found drowned in the small ditch behind the cornrows. That story did it's job, as I never strayed from where my mother could see me. I've often wondered what the "Siren Song" was that lured that other unfortunate child. That is the inspiration for this piece.


  1. Very rich description, Cynthia, with every aspect of nature taking on the luring, siren role. Disturbing in its ending, and true. A moving poem.

    I particularly love these lines:

    adventure’s afoot
    for anyone willing
    to see with night eyes

    Interesting that both of us came to a drowning in this week's poem (2 in my attempt)...

  2. This is great Cynthia! You've incorporated the sort of magical things that would seduce a child and the whispering works.

    I couldn't even drum up two situations this week, never mind write a poem!

  3. Beethoven said that music must be at once inevitable and surprising. This little story poem did it for me! That was a really clever and poignant one. Nicely done!

  4. Beautiful truly! The rich parade of images beckon the child and we race with the child all the way saying 'please no, please no'.

  5. from Therese -- Oh, how devastating is that last line, the mother's "please no" set against all the previous siren songs. I think your hinges (from animals to mother; from night to morning) work extremely well. I admire how this poem suggests the presence of the child, and suggests the moment of death, but doesn't look directly at either. That absence, that indirection, is a beautiful touch in this very fine poem.

  6. Cynthia, I was raised on a farm in Arkansas. I treasure that life and miss it immensely. Although my mother never warned my brother and I of drowning we did get multiple instructions about the variety of poisonous snakes and their consequential bite. It is a shame that the wonders of childhood farm life can be so complicated by water and vipers. I loved your poem and the way you used the last line to cement the language of nature and life to the structure of each stanza.

  7. I like that you chose to tell your memories in this poem in a more subtle way, hinting at them and leaving the reader to imagine. Also love the imagery and the repeated theme of the last line.

  8. The repetition really makes this poem for me. Magical!

  9. Cyntihia,
    Fantastic! And chilling story behind this poem. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Good job. Good poem! Interesting for the prompt, but a sad story. Maybe it was the "hinge" that many so many of us write sad poems!

  11. of course, those of us who were good, and therefore safe, were also safe from the wonder.
    Good work.

  12. I love the whispering quality of the repetition in the last lines in each. As Barbara said, 'safe from wonder'..-Irene

  13. If I hadn't known about the prompt I would have been looking for a sun-up breakfast on the riverbank. Powerful imagery. Thank you.

    Allan Cox

  14. This is wonderful! The lack of punctuation does work here, and I love the repetition of luring in the last lines of the stanzas. The turn is unexpected and chilling. Very, very good!

  15. Agreed with Karen, the punctuationlessness is fine. Hauntingly beautiful, reminds me of The Stolen Child or something similar.

  16. This is absolutely beautiful, your words flow and the internal rhyme is wonderfully adapted. I love it. BTW Your interview on RWP was terrific. Enjoyed it.

  17. Very nicely done...the last lines of each stanza serve as a backbone for the entire narrative...and then the sharp turn of that last stanza and that last line. You do a wonderful job of story telling and I notice a few instances of alliteration, which give this a nice, sonic quality. The whole thing is haunting, pulling the reader in like a tractor beam.


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