Mermaids by Joan Colby

They dreamed of sirens whose haunting arias
Could whisk them willingly to oblivion,
Shipwrecked with lust. Who would resist the chance,
Roped to the mast like Odysseus to risk
The heightened edge of consciousness,
Not quite blacked out but almost.
Any seal or manatee might be a mermaid
Willing to trade her tail for love
Or money like the whores in the gaudy ports.
Tales of women like flying fish
Skimming the waves to flop
Spread-eagled on deck. Longing
For beauty, they settled for buggery.
A notion of water sprites immured them
In the hammocks of tossed nights
When it seemed that land would never
Be sighted, that the maps promised dragons,
This voyage the last one.
Shanghaied they sailed
The seven seas of imagination
Keelhauled with a ration of rum
And hardtack. The brutal lash,
The numb days of stagnation
When any story was better than none.
Photo by Alexandra Karnasopoulos on

About the Poet:

Joan Colby’s Selected  Poems received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and Ribcage was awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Her recent books include Her Heartsongs from Presa Press, Joyriding to Nightfall from FutureCycle Press, Elements from Presa Press .and Bony Old Folks from Cyberwit Press. She has another book forthcoming  from The Poetry Box Select  series titled The Kingdom of the Birds which should be out next August.

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