Back to Poems from the Hoot

Silent Siren

The Portsmouth Poetry Hoot, sponsored by the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program, is held the first Wednesday
of every month at 7 p.m. at Café Espresso, 738 Islington St., Portsmouth. The next Hoot is on November 1,
featuring Michael Macklin and Hilary Holladay.

How is it that successful poems manage to express so many ideas, thoughts and
feelings in so few words?  In this poem read by Meghan Harford at a Poetry Hoot,
the speaker tells us about the situation and the speaker’s state of mind not through
description, but through allusions.  Similarly to their cousin illusion, allusions show us
one thing in the place of another.  Allusions tap the power in a well-known and
archetypal story or image to illustrate an idea or thought in the poem.  In this poem,
Harford uses a mix of allusions, contrasting a potentially dangerous direction
portrayed through Greek myth, with a hope for a safer course, or salvation, through
the Christian mythos.  Using very well-known stories (the Sirens & the Crucifixion)
ensures that most readers will understand the references.  Mixing the allusions risks
confusion, but also creates a tension that is well-matched to the conflict felt by the

— Lesley Kimball   

Silent Siren

 I could play the Siren.

And from my pain and desire

Whisper sweet verses in your ears,

Luring you off course –

Only to break you on the

Craggy ledges that lie

Beneath the softly undulating surface.

And so destroy us both;

Shipwrecking both our journeys;

Leaving us bereft, adrift,

And far from the harbors of home.

Instead, I cling to the One

Who was nailed to the mast

And pray that I may ride out this gale

That buffets my heart, and

Mind and soul,

And drives me always,

Inevitably back to you.


— Meghan Harford

"Silent Siren” copyright 2002 by Meghan Harford.   Meghan Harford is a poet and a 
Child and Family Therapist. She works in Southern Maine and lives in Greenland, New Hampshire.

 Please note: Poems submitted to this column should not exceed nineteen lines.