Live Virtual Group Session: 6PM EDT March 14th 2022

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

For this session we read an excerpt from Sirens by Billy Collins, posted below. 

Our prompt was: “Write about a sound that prompted you to stop.”

More details will be posted on this session, so check back again!

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Please join us for our next session Friday March 18th at 12pm EDT,  with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

Sirens by Billy Collins

Not those women who lure sailors
onto a reef with their singing and their tresses,
but the screams of an ambulance
bearing the sick, the injured, and the dying
across the rational grid of the city.

We get so used to the sound
it’s just another sharp in the city’s tune.
Yet it’s one thing to stop on a sidewalk
with other pedestrians to watch one
flashing and speeding down an avenue

while a child on a corner covers her ears
and a shopkeeper appears in a doorway,
but another thing when one gets stuck
in traffic and seems to be crying for its mother
who has fled to another country.

Everyone keeps walking along then,
eyes cast down—for after all,
there’s nothing we can do,
and today we are not the one peering
up at the face of an angel dressed in scrubs.

Some of us are late for appointments
a few blocks away, while others
have the day off and take their time
angling across a broad, leafy avenue
before being engulfed by the green of a park.

“Sirens” by Billy Collins from The Rain in Portugal. © Random House, 2016.

9 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 6PM EDT March 14th 2022

  1. Elizabeth

    Hiaku verses about a sound that made me stop

    Sometimes it is not
    A sound that will make me stop,
    But the lack of one.

    When silence arrives,
    In the air that surrounds me,
    It makes me take pause.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. michele348

    About a sound that prompted me to stop~~~

    It was a bright, sunny March day,
    mild temperatures warming the earth.
    The robins were out on the lawn, searching for earthworms.
    The crocus and the daffodil were poking their heads above the soil to kiss the sunlight.
    From the other room, I heard the voice of a young child crying.
    It came from the news being broadcast on the tv.
    A little girl was crying out as she was being placed on a train that would take her and her mother to a safe haven.
    The father tearfully waved goodbye to his family.
    He was remaining. behind to fight the good fight for his nation, if there is such a thing as a “good” fight.

    Would this be the last time father and daughter would see each other?
    I pray not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • al3793

      Michele, you took me right back into the poem with the child crying, like the stuck ambulance and its siren crying for its mother. Your narrative is the reverse of Collins’ poem. Your speaker has us in the midst of nature’s beauty at the start of the poem. Collins takes us there at the end of his. Much prayer is needed. Andre

      Liked by 1 person

  3. rita basuray

    The prompt on sound –

    Ahhhhh! That hurt my ears! But it shouldn’t have, because the sound a child makes right after birth should be joyful. I think I’m destined to be childless if high decibels make me cringe. How come, similar sharp sounds made by puppies or kittens don’t bother me? Am I destined instead to raise puppies and kittens all my life?

    Liked by 1 person

    • al3793

      Rita, having delivered babies for 42 years I often write about birth. As the Family Physician in the labor room I am relieved to hear that sound especially when it is absent. I am especially disturbed when I don’t hear it and I am usually too busy to look. I like how you introduced all the sounds in such a short piece and the questions raised by the sounds. Andre


  4. al3793

    Write about a sound that made you stop.

    POP! Just one.
    I thought the sound came from the woods
    bordering a clearing between houses.
    It was a crisp quiet early spring morn and
    the nascent leaves flickered like small green lights
    as the breeze turned them to reflect the sun.
    One hundred fifty feet away
    a woman lay dead in her driveway.
    On her side, her face was away from me.
    I would not have recognized her had I passed her on the street.
    Her gray hair camouflaged the entrails of the bullet’s exit,
    and a ribbon of blood ran down the pavement like a crimson necktie matched to a black suit.
    I looked for signs of life, a pulse, a breath a movement…
    I looked to the clearing for her spirit.
    The silence was again broken, this time by an elder man’s voice.
    “Awww Molly, why’d you do this?” and despite his query
    his voice seemed to understand.

    Liked by 1 person

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