Mad blue swarming, inky swim of watery
colors colliding and dividing, as if the octopus
in me used its multi-tasking arms to accomplish
its to-do list at one go.
Those arms are equipped
with one third of the animal’s neurons—like me
those rare mornings fleet fingers fly. Even sea-
monster-flick-severed, the arms retract in pain
when prodded, curl around a stick.
is to ink enemies, blind and numb them, but if
it doesn’t flee fast enough it will succumb
to its own venom and die. Now it’s me I see
in this inked scrawl, flailing to do everything
before me, throwing down a trail of distractions,
Can’t you see I’m trying, don’t reprimand me.
Look how far I’ve progressed from the globular
splat embedded in sea rock from the Carboniferous
era of my childhood. I try to do good.
hearted purveyor of the dark, two for its gills
and one to pump up organs, keep it on track.
Copper-based blood’s blue, allows it to survive
in depths of cold, and it changes colours too,
changes shape to mimic and mask.
I lag behind,
flagging, breathing hard, merely single-hearted.
I yearn to partake of depths where darkness
blesses, for words that can be seized and drawn
towards those paired, hard claws of a beak, for a poem
that will make the many-armed grow weak.
to mate like an octopus, externally, to hand off
my sperm for her to impregnate the world with,
to partner with another artist who’ll know all
I fail to know, the way the right lover makes me
better than I am, wiser, more noble.
produces 400,000 at one go. She obsessively guards
her brood, creating worlds beyond comprehension.
O to discover in me the feminine, to cross over
from this isolated beast of masculinity, to tie
myself to the greater good, to cease obsessing
over whether I’m doing what I should,
I’m only a vessel for something beyond what I see,
then to implode in cellular suicide, to die
from the outside in. O to have birthed something
astonishing, a plankton-cloud of offspring
eating anything that doesn’t eat them,
that both sink and swim, that know when to end.
David Allen Sullivan
David Allen Sullivan’s books include: Strong-Armed Angels, Every Seed of the Pomegranate, a book of co-translation with Abbas Kadhim from the Arabic of Iraqi Adnan Al-Sayegh, Bombs Have Not Breakfasted Yet, and Black Ice. Most recently, he won the Mary Ballard Chapbook poetry prize for Take Wing. He teaches at Cabrillo College, where he edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students, and lives in Santa Cruz with his family.
His poetry website is: https://dasulliv1.wixsite.com/website-1, a modern Chinese co-translation project is at: https://dasulliv1.wixsite.com/website-trans, and a call for poetry about the paintings of Bosch and Bruegel for an anthology he's editing with his art historian mother is at: https://dasulliv1.wixsite.com/website.
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