Octopus vulgaris


I am Ursula

Ink between my legs

Boil-blurping skin like Kraft cream and plastic

pasta legs, sausage arm carved with every line

of my refusal, which I’ve channeled harmlessly through the tip of a pen

I thought was out of ink, but it is still three-quarters full. Harmless

straight lines, unintelligible black hearts and sharded stars

from far away, it will look like I was strong

enough to try to destroy this body

and escape myself. But

I haven’t. Why is it

that boys have cellos and girls have all curves?

When did everything get so hard? Yesterday

I coursed the piano like the river that jewels the desert in nuptial aqua

Today the notes use my head as a punching bag

and as thick, circling, too dizzy for my ear to track. I hear


but these voices of people who never

said anything, saying now,

you are the worst

girl in the world. You are curved wrong. Go

walk through a bread slicer, a metro tunnel too dark

to see the difference between the dark outside

and inside, written on your retinas

in harmless ink you could have used

for something more powerful.


Image captions and credits in order of appearance:

“It seems to dry the octopus in Shimotsui.” By Tatushin – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14794815

Octopus at Kelly Tarlton’s.” By Pseudopanax at English Wikipedia – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26297996


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