Let's talk about [the siren's story].

The Poetrycooker is just blown away by all the powerful images in this poem! 

The poet refrains from expressing specific emotion in this poem. Instead, she uses many extraordinary and mysterious images in order to cultivate emotion.

Oh, how I long to talk with you all about this!

Please fell welcome to express your thoughts and feelings below - all posts provide you with the option of anonymity, so please, don't feel shy!

[the siren's story]


she wasn’t born in this city. she found its basalt greenstone chunks, seafloor forced skyward. it found her hands through mist and odors whirring pigeons’ clubfeet fluttering, toothless men’s paper sacks spilling elixirs, roots, shark fin tonics. heat swelling sewer steam rising, side street chess match maneuvers mystifying. it sought her whirlwind hair, grown seavine thick. songbird, adrift, nestling neon, she crafted snares for moths, butterflies, treasure hunting children tracing ideographs: sky, sun. patina spires, smirking dragon boys humming silk lanterns, flight of phoenixes through fish vendors’ stalls, corrugated plastic blackbird perches, jade-ringed gardens, needle-tipped shanties. it bulleted trees, lighting hash pipes; herbalists’ storefront canopies concealing leathered men, versed in languages of whiskered ghosts. it invented her dialect carving tongue: salt fables, yellow caution tape palaces. she lost herself in this city. it lured her, drank her air; honey voice’s precision, hybrid beyond memory. songbird, adrift, this city’s misplaced siren. migration patterns subterranean streams swallowed whole.
-from Poeta en San Francis

Consider the following :

  1. What are some of the emotions/messages/themes you can identify based on the images in [the siren's story] ?

  2. What images do you find the most striking?

  3. Think about images in general, not just in [the siren's story], but in all poetry, and other art forms. Why do certain images have a more universal quality while others tend to be more powerful to certain individuals? How is it that the same image can mean different things to so many different people?

Lets Talk About... #1


  1. *I find I am enamored with the image of the "whirlwind hair, grown seavine thick."
    It might be fairly easy to assume that because I find the above line attractive, I must have really long or wild hair.

    This would be a correct assumption. Does that surprise you?

    I am, as it would be, somewhat of a wild haired woman-child. But I find it both beautiful and unfair that people might assume that my attachment to this line begins and ends with this commonality. There are many reasons beyond the obvious that someone might connect with something in a poem, (or song, or painting)! I also want to say that I wouldn't find it silly if others related to this line for only simple reasons. That's great! But I want to know all the different ways people attach themselves to images and emotions and experiences in art. I want to know all of the many, complicated, hard to explain,beautiful reasons!

    Artists and writers often use the image of hair because it's something that most people identify with. (Most people have had, loved/hated/admired someone that has had hair). But why is it so striking? After all it's a bunch of dead cells still attached to a living body! I mean ick! Who knows, maybe this image is too universal or silly-or gross a concept for you. That's great! Isn't it great how we all respond differently to the images that we encounter in literature, in art and music?
    What it boils down to is experience. We experience experience because of our experience.
    Let me tell you a little bit more about my own experience - and why it makes this brief, simple line all-the-more special to me.

    I had a bout with Alopecia areata a few years ago, and lost quite a bit of my hair. It grew out after several years of steroid treatments and as a result of these drugs it is abundantly thick. I had decided in the beginning of my this cosmetic ordeal that if my hair came back and grew long enough, I would donate it to one of the wig-gifting charities.

    Losing my hair was a devastating blow. The experience not only effected my self-confidence, it violated my very identity. I had always been a free spirit and my long, crazy hair was always a symbol of that. Was is great hair? No. But it was beautiful in it's own way. Losing it was painful, but it taught me many lessons about myself. And it's one of the reasons that Reyes's image of the thick, jungle of hair is very personal to me.
    Some Fun Facts about Literature and Hair:
    Many literary traditions even cultures hold long hair as a symbol of strength and freedom. A good examples can be found classic Grimm tale of Rapunzel, which features an imprisoned princess who improvises a ladder for her rescuer by draping her long hair over a tower window.
    Another story involving the symbolism hair is actually from the book of Judges in the Christian Bible. It is one of the few epic romances of the entire scripture, and is perhaps the most ill-fated. In it, the strong Samson, who was set to begin delivery of Israel for Philistine rule, was tricked into love with the conspiratorial Delilah. Delilah, who came to know of Samson's strength through her constant persuasion, waited till he slept, and then cut off his hair, subduing him, allowing for his capture by the Philistines.


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