The Siren

By Joyelle McSweeney Joyelle McSweeney
The puppy must be learned of all this material.
No map of the hospital. First, the war effort.
Then, the war itself. The water makes and remakes
its walls. No persons or boats are allowed in them.

This plot is to be played out in the buildings known to us.
Swim for the stick, baby! You’ve got an anti-sink device.
The nba guard flips forward and back
in his hologram. Fish-fission. Light.
                                                                            —and found wheels beneath her
linen skirt. The kids mill around like businessmen-clowns.
Their organization is a matter of choice and thus not protected under
reedlight. Candlelight.

Horizonto-rotary gaze beating clearly to the right.
Now, corrected, to the left. Fish! Flip! and Out of Hearing!
Alone in the pink apartment with your little swab.
The moth-mom tries out everything at once: straps on wool,
ties a candle to her head. Don’t pity her. She wants to eat the moth!
Which dithers over whether it eats wool or flame.

The skyline lifts, and the gulfstream slips out barefoot
clear to England. Maidens rhinocently down the cowpath clomp.
Toothbrush into yogurt cup, Recyclamente! I am so
adamant. The siren with a catch in its cry starts over.
Eternal transistance. Ent’ring our marriage ride.

Joyelle McSweeney, “The Siren” from The Commandrine and Other Poems. Copyright © 2004 by Joyelle McSweeney. Reprinted by permission of Joyelle McSweeney.

Source: The Commandrine and Other Poems (Fence Books, 2004)

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Poet Joyelle McSweeney

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Joyelle  McSweeney


Joyelle McSweeney was born in Boston and spent most of her childhood in suburban Philadelphia. She has a BA from Harvard University; an MPhil in English studies from Oxford University, where she was a Marshall Scholar; and an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

McSweeney’s collections of poetry include The Red Bird (2002), winner of the 2001 Fence Modern Poetry Series, and The Commandrine and Other Poems (2004). . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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