Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘Goddess of Eloquence’ and other poems

By: Enda Boyle

Photo by cottonbro on


Before the sightings came the radar pings
and the lovely songs on the whale sonar
Then came the first fleeting glimpses.
Rumours were passed among fishermen
of flickering figures on the wave’s crest

Eventually a mermaid was discovered
on a busy tourist beach in summer
it was flung up from uncharted depths
and got stranded among marine litter
It died when our rescue attempt failed

The corpse was an anatomical absurdity
We found both lungs and gills, translucent
membrane under each arm, a luminous
tentacle and all down its back ran a ridge
of jewelled scales in a red and blue pattern.

We removed the organs for further study
and injected the body with formaldehyde
This specimen was taken away to be stored
Some of our documents were destroyed
and we all singed non-disclosure documents

Those of us who were there still share rumours
of Mermaids caught in fishing nets off Maine
or whole schools circling a North Sea Oil refinery
We were able to verify a sighting of a freshwater
variant amoung the sinking canal boats of Venice

Baffling marine biologists and mystics alike
these mermaid sightings becoming more common
Seemly without pattern and rarely leaving evidence
Washing up amoung the waste we dump in the sea
Their mournful songs sound like elegies for the oceans


Goddess of Eloquence

Calliope goddess of eloquence deserts us
at precisely the least opportune moments
she delights in withholding her best gifts
at the exact moments when we need them

Fickle as a cat, she visits us on her own terms
rarely bothering to announce her intentions
instead, she will discreetly brush against you
and your tongue will be spontaneously unbound

Once she offers you phrases, they can’t be ignored
They will intermittently buzz at the back of your skull
until you use them, you will become her mouthpiece
her clerk, taking dictation whenever she demands it.

Over time your antenna will become better attuned
and you will detect the must subtle of her messages
Scrambling to write whatever she whispers down
Ever fearful that this will be the last time she visits

Flighty, playful and found of a joke she singles out
One of her previously favoured and deselects them
Often, she condemns her chosen to patient silence
Until she decides to shower inspiration upon them.

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