Siren Song

By Nancy Miller Gomez


A songbird mimicking the sounds
of emergency sirens has been
caught on video . . . —CNN

A starling has taught himself to sing
like an ambulance. Now the air is filled

with emergencies. Whee-o, whee-o, high and low,
a fire truck rides out of a mockingbird’s mouth.

Grackles impersonate police cars. They dive-bomb
the precinct parking lot, bashing their beaks

into the rearview mirrors of their rivals.
The magpie knows a lovely air raid. Now

she trills like a helicopter, next a chain saw,
then an AK-47. The quail stop, drop

and cower. Take-CO-ver they cantillate.
Whee-o, whee-o, high and low. Juncos,

pass to Vireos. Catbirds steal the flow.
The chickadees have gone on lockdown.

They bore like bullets through the bleeding bark
of the cedars. Crows reload from rooftops.


Originally from Kansas, Nancy Miller Gomez now lives in Santa Cruz, California. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry 2021, Best New Poets 2021, The Adroit Journal, New Ohio Review, Shenandoah, River Styx, The Rumpus, Rattle, Massachusetts Review, American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Punishment, was published in 2018 as part of the Rattle chapbook series. She co-founded an organization that provides poetry workshops to incarcerated women and men. More at: nancymillergomez.com

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