PAD 2017 – Day 6

Writing about sound is difficult, but when it works I think it can be one of best kinds of evocative, sensory writing. Today’s Writer’s Digest prompt asked for poems inspired by sounds. The NaPoWriMo prompt called for poems that examine a thing in several different ways, like the wonderful Wallace Stevens poem “Thirteen Way of Looking at a Blackbird.” Here’s my attempt at seven ways of thinking about, and hearing, sirens.

Seven Sirens



As children we’d try to pick out each one,

quick woo-woo-woo of a police car,

shrill staccato blast of the fire engine,

the scream of an ambulance,

wailing up and down the scale.

Like knowing which emergency to fear

would earn us a badge.



we tilt our heads

like dogs following a sound

like cats curious

for catastrophe




four firefighters jump on

as the truck pulls away,

a hollering siren,

a rallying cry.



Sticky summer night

they screech in

through our open window.

Not everyone’s as safe

as us together.



flat out

on the inside

of an ambulance

the bawling siren

cries for you



siren song

irresistible distraction

distressing reaction



I tell my daughter

about sirens — nymphs of the sea,

their songs said to be dangerous.

I tell my daughter

that sometimes our voice

is our only defense.


Today’s Alberta poet certainly knows how to use sound in his writing. Please take the time to watch, and listen, to Calgary poet Richard Harrison sharing poems from his book Big Breath of a Wish which chronicles his daughter’s discovery and acquisition of language.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s