Dec 2, 2011

8.6. Peter Schwartz: poem

octopus myth


most intelligent & behaviorally flexible

of invertebrates, apparently you’ve evolved past the point

of needing a skeleton, funny how in our world

that just makes you mush


you taste everything you touch, which is maybe

too straight forward a way of being, all that salt

has to age your brain, it’s what gave you 3 hearts

& a soft body that can turn anonymous


they’re calling you a reflex because you have no

mental image of the shapes you handle & must rely

on texture variations, they’ve proven you have no

neurological path to the big picture


sometimes you change color to communicate

but you can also use the muscles in your skin

to change the texture of your mantle for even

greater camouflage


& you’re not above detaching a tentacle

to distract a predator, romantic for something

that doesn’t know if it’s stretched or not

without its tension sensors


you swim by pushing water out of your

contractile mantle because you’re doomed

(or blessed) to never understand the complexity

of your own motions


your myth says the present cosmos

is but the blossomed wreckage of the

one before and that you are

its sole survivor


you’ll die shortly after mating

but not until she lays you

200,000 eggs

Peter Schwartz's words have appeared in Pank, Wigleaf, and Opium. See more at

Photography by Eleanor Leonne Bennett

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