Ode to the Octopus

You think me a delicacy,
braised and grilled with tangy sauce–
raw, prepared as sushi–
in a salad perhaps, tossed.
You think my senses merely serve
to aid in my survival–
that my existence
is secondary to what you deserve–
a special meal without rival.
And what of my disappearance?

My body is all potential,
alien to your bones–
my way of life, untranslatable
as words or thought alone.
I study you, your habits,
both curious and sly–
resisting my captivity,
escaping from your limits–
forcing you to abide
with me if me you wish to study.

I am my own canvas, I paint
colors with light and disguise–
my form always in flux, I create
patterns of magic, surprise.
Once we were one, at home
in the sea, the waters of birth–
since opened by history, cleaved–
now you claim land as your own,
along with all creatures of earth–
disenchanted inside your vast greed.

When I saw the NaPoWriMo prompt this morning, to write a poem that anthropomorphizes a kind of food, the first thing that came to mind was how I could never eat octopus again after reading Peter Godfrey Smith’s book about them, Other Minds. These paintings are from a previous post where I also used the voice of a cephalopod, though not from the point of view of being eaten.

I promised Muri I would attempt an Ode–just as difficult as I expected. And this one needs work. But the octopus is more than worthy as a subject for one

28 thoughts on “Ode to the Octopus

      1. I haven’t read the book, but I saw the film. I don’t think it was that, but it’s true, the aliens were octopus-like. It’s certainly one of those sad scientific facts that animals we have been exploiting for centuries are really so much more sensorially advanced than we are.

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  1. You nailed the problem in your last line: “disenchanted inside your vast greed.” My sentiment exactly–greed is at the root of most evils nowadays. Have you seen the documentary “My Octopus Teacher”? I’ll never eat octopus ever again. They’re so smart, so selfless, so much more than we give them credit for.

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  2. Yes, I thought for a moment how unpleasant it would get to be devoured. The line that get drawn, between what to eat and what not to eat, how arbitrary is it? Nature gets destroyed in other ways too, even if it’s not directly eaten. I’ve seen My Octopus Teacher too, which Romana mentions above. I still eat sea food. 😦

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  3. Your ode is a work of art and your art is astounding! I’m so tickled that you have joined the scavenger hunt this time around!! Stretching creatively is how we grow – love that you took the challenge and succeeded ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As an admirer of our cephalopod cousins, this is all kinds of wonderful for me, especially that last line! I loved that book too, and his Metazoa; it really turned the definition of intelligence on its head for me. Who are we to determine such things?


  5. i don’t think this justifies my own palate for these intelligent creatures, but I wonder if a sizable cephalopod would hesitate to eat us should the opportunity arise? I admit to feeling very, very guilty about eating seafood knowing what I know about factory fishing, let alone the clearly self-aware tentacled aliens. ~


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