The Blue Ringed Octopus

The Blue Ringed Octopus dispenses its ink cartridge,
screaming ‘octopoeds!’ from dark recesses.

Irritable, glows iridescent blue, undresses you
and popping from an alcove gives you the wretched prod.

Wintertime but no snow in the oceans, only colder.
Sea-life given the cold-shoulder, the life-ender

but warmth of magma keeps the octopus ticking over,
always coiled and shacked up in some shabby hole

but a hole that is a home, nonetheless, and decorated
with cadavers, pillowed sea-weed, billowing capes;

crowns of skulls of all our failed bailiffs
left delicately stagnating, to taste.

Ben Armstrong


One thought on “The Blue Ringed Octopus

  1. progiestben says:

    Writer’s Note:

    This poem began its life in around 2010 as part of a sequence I wrote whilst by the sea in North Berwick, Scotland.

    I suppose at the heart of this piece is a debate about perspective – of how easy it is to misunderstand something because of its appearance or its nature. The blue-ringed octopus is a highly venomous, but very diminutive, species of octopus which is typically very docile until provoked. My octopus is, in that sense, an extended metaphor for the way in which we misinterpret aesthetic to costly consequences.

    The final couplet is one of my favourite images in ‘Perennial’ – combining dark comedy with a sense of sadness and inevitability which affects us all in our lowest moments.


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