Poem: Joey The Underwater Milkman



After years of being a milkman,


Joey decided to become an octopus.


He studied them as much as he could.


 In the delirium preceding the slitting of his throat,


Octopi were his thoughts’ sole focus




In the following murkiness, the dark hours


Of draining blood, the growing schism


Between spirit and body, Joey’s essence poured


Itself back into the world, rewaking, couchant,


Before the throne of Jove, who, diving his soul’s purpose,


Cast him deeper into the sea’s foams




Then all was a chamber of blue,


Procreant from a shuddering shell,


He left his egg, fragile doorway of the world,


His hard, horny beak breaking through its bonds,


To clack into infinity




Not bird, nor fish, nor snail enlarged,


His thoughts expressed themselves


In the billows and contraries of undulant body,


Not a recoil, nor the spilling of crimson ink,


But a net, a hunter, a capturer, an acrobat






He danced with polymorphic agility through this matrix


Of ocean, seaweed-silhouetted, peeping beadily through


Shoal vistas, circumspect, puncturer of any thought,


Listen to his mind: the crunch of soft-tissue and bones




Concealed in pebbles,


Minareted in sands,


Perched on the brink of sub-aqueous cliffs,


Waiting, searching, fin-tasting and charged,


A maze of motion, of unwritten currents,


Jet-propelled prism refracting muddied


Fragments of stealth






But then days arabesqued into more than just


Stealth-lined shadows – of prying life-pryer:




The coral was coloured too harshly,


Dizzying his mind into unwelcome mazes:


What if there is more to being an octopus


Than being an octopus?




“There is,” unthroated strangeness confirmed,


“For all things stretch back to and emanate


From the centre. All things lead to where


Your tentacles are going, your thoughts


Disappear in discoloured ink.”




And he was a kid again, at the fireside,


Hearing his father wax lyrical on the delivery of fresh milk:




“At the centre of the ocean is an octopus bigger than all of this –


His far-reaching arms balance the eight directions,


Juggling the five elements,


His ink is the blackness settling the night,


His eyes the flash fire of ineluctable day.




“He Is the reason your Father dies after ejaculation,


And your mother a sack of eggs serrated by self-slaughter!”




“But why must I be so?


An eight-armed orphan to the world?”




And Joey remembered the seasons of his father’s woe,


The dread certainties manhood would make him mate.


He knew of no more earthly love than this.




So he cried into the ocean,


Neither man nor mollusc,


Just a net adrift, conundrum-captured,


Hunting and roaming,


While throats, still slit, dribble reality into the sink,


As The Baboon God beats out his own brains.




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