The Worm King's Lullaby
by Richard Siken

Below is the entirety of Richard Siken's poem, "The Worm King's Lullaby." Although the quotes I use throughout the main content of the shrine are presented verbatim, I thought it'd be best to also provide them in context. Likewise, while I feel that the verses I selected reflect Gin well, I believe the poem as a whole also conveys a great deal of his character and his story.

If you enjoyed reading the poem, I urge you to consider purchasing Siken's collection, War of the Foxes, for yourself (available on Amazon), or Crush, the first of his collections (also available on Amazon). You can also find out more about him and his work at his official website.


The holes in this story are not lamps, they are not
wheels. I walked and walked, grew a beard so I could
drag it in the dirt, into a forest that wasn't there. I want
to give you more but not everything. You don't need


This is what they found on the dead man's desk when
the landlord let them in: twenty-eight pages, esoteric
and unfollowable, written with perfect penmanship
and a total disregard for any reader, as if the intended
audience was a population not quite human. Angelic
says the detective, lifting the pages, feeling their
heft, and he wonders what he means because it isn't.
His partner nods but ignores him.

A park bench, white roses, dark coats and white roses,
snow and repetitions of snow—it's hard to read but
pretty much how they found him: dead on a bench in
a black coat, the snow falling down.

Twigs and blackbirds, snow and red horses, the ghosts
floating up, the snow falling down—the detective is
weeping—and the black coat.


Someone has to leave first. This is a very old story.
There is no other version of this story.


It’s getting late, Little Moon. Finish the song. It’s not that
late. You are my moon, Little Moon, and it’s late enough.
So climb down out of the tree.
Is it safe? Safe enough. Are
you dead as well?

The night is cold, it is silver, it is a coin.

Not everyone is dead, Little Moon. But the big moon needs
the tree.
There is a ghost at the end of the song. Yes,
there is. And you see his hand and then you see the moon.

Am I the ghost at the end of the song? We are very close
now, Little Moon. Thank you for shining on me.


He was pointing at the moon but I was looking at his
hand. He was dead anyway, a ghost. I’m surprised I
saw his hand at all. All this was prepared for me. All
this was set in motion long ago. I live in someone else’s
future. I stayed as long as I could, he said. Now look at
the moon.