Jonathan Cant – The Siren

Cant LE P&W July 2024

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing July 2024

The Siren, poems by Jonathan Cant.

The Siren

after The Bridge by Hart Crane

The Sea Cliff Bridge rises from the Pacific Ocean
like the tentacle of a giant kraken caressing the contours
of the Illawarra coast. She’s no creature of Nature,
but rather the result of necessity, engineered by mortal

grand design. Deco in her elegance, yet Jetson-esque
in her audacity. Like a lovestruck seafarer, my eyes,
ears, and heart crane upwards from the wave-smashed
rocks to hear her siren song, the ode of a road—stilettoed—

along the foreshore. Six hundred and sixty-six serpentine
metres long, she towers like a leggy supermodel—this striding
autostrada—with her smooth, cantilevered curves. Function
and form are wed as she hugs the terrain and transports

her visitors. At the edge of the tidal rock shelf, tourists take
happy snaps with her in the gaps between rogue waves. Perfectly
posed, she stars in car ads. Cameras zoom in to show the smug
faces of drivers who nod like know-alls who’ve purchased well.


From up on the bridge, I hear the siren wail its way down
the coast. Getting closer. Louder. Higher pitched. Then the
Doppler shift as the ambulance passes. It stops at the top
of the walkway. A small group has gathered on a disused road

at the foot of the cliff. A policeman examines something
on the ground behind the bushes. He shakes his head and
signals to paramedics by dragging his hand across his throat.
The stretcher is casually removed from the ambulance.

Forty metres above, backpackers and influencers continue
their quest for the best angle of the view below. They vie
for the riskiest-looking spot and that money shot to blow
their followers away. Websites say this is the region’s

most popular photo op. How-to tips guide the curious—
like moths to a flame or Internet fame—up a steep, hidden,
overgrown path to reach Immortality. Or Death by Selfie.
Beauty and Vanity, we’re all just dying to meet You.


You’re the warbird from my youth.
Phantom-faced you graced
the grassy fields and wastes,
black and white and yellow tipped,
taupe torpedo from above,
armoured beak and mid-wing spur,
machine-gun shriek and for your
fragile, freckled eggs,
the fiercest kind of love.

© Jonathan Cant

Jonathan Cant is a Sydney-based writer, poet, and musician. He won the 2023 Banjo Paterson Writing Awards for Contemporary Poetry, was Longlisted for the 2023 Fish Poetry Prize, and the 2022 Flying Islands Poetry Manuscript Prize, Commended in the W. B. Yeats Poetry Prize, Highly Commended in the South Coast Writers Centre Poetry Awards, and twice selected for the Ros Spencer Anthology Brushstrokes. Jonathan’s poems have appeared in Cordite Poetry Review, Otoliths, and Booranga Writers’ Centre’s fourW thirty-four.

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