Siren, poems by M L Williams
M. L. Williams is author of Other Medicines and co-editor of How Much Earth: The Fresno Poets. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals and anthologies, including most recently Western Humanities Review, Miramar, The Journal of Florida Studies, The Cortland Review, Stone, River, Sky, and Clash by Night. He teaches creative writing and contemporary literature at Valdosta State University.
That one kid in the neighborhood,
straight black hair, bangs, raspy
voice, wide-set eyes, the one who
everyone hated for no reason,
for old clothes, for lice, dead
lawn, wanting to fit in and not
fitting in, for having a boy’s
name and dirty knees, for crying
loud when we called her ugly,
who had theories about why
we hated her, because I’m poor
was her theory when I talked to her
when she said she was moving,
when I didn’t call her stupid okie
(we were all okies) and listened,
and I asked her if she had climbed
the ladder in her back yard
past the locks to the top
of the paste-yellow, cold-war
air-raid siren that I would stare at
in wonder from my back yard
and she smiled, “Yes,” and that’s
all she said about it, then said
where she was going
and after that I missed her.
On a dare, I kissed
another boy full
on the lips.
a girl, twisting
her fake taffeta skirt.
And that was all.
The ball skipped
through the four-
Kids wound up,
at the tether
the tall pole.
They tossed marks
on hot asphalt.
© M L Williams