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Matthew Dorrell did not write this poem in the days since the attacks on the United States. Last November, when he wrote the following lines, he had not yet witnessed the specific horror we have all seen since— Ed.
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A police car careens by -
siren blaring an advertisement
for the suburbs.
Sound stolen less from a Hollywood blockbuster
than from a child’s key chain,
the button stuck and tiny siren looping.
First moving here you wonder
at each siren, staring out windows
to identify the species
and for what wailing necessity it exists.
After a time (not so long)
the screamingly important becomes
the background in a painting -
the way leaves smash into each other
or wind tears itself through air.
Admiring the certain blurred urgency
of a calling siren,
like a photo of a cheetah in full sinewed flight,
is easy enough
if one ignores
the inevitable carnage where movement ends.
There are a million tragedies
chased by howling vehicles.
Sirens that sound
like propane smells.