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Unread 04-16-2002, 06:26 AM
Kate Benedict's Avatar
Kate Benedict Kate Benedict is offline
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: New York, NY, USA
Posts: 2,191

Here is a true story cribbed from Andrew Solomon's The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression:

I was fascinated to hear of the suicide of an octopus, trained for a circus, that had been accustomed to doing tricks for rewards of food. When the circus was disbanded, the octopus was kept in a tank and no one paid any attention to his tricks. He gradually lost color (octopuses' states of mind are expressed in their shifting hues) and finally went through his tricks one last time, failed to be rewarded, and used his beak to stab himself so badly that he died.

Your mission: write an elegiac poem about the suicide of this octopus or some other animal! Quatrains preferred but not required.

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Unread 04-16-2002, 07:36 AM
Solan Solan is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Grimstad, home of Ibsen and Hamsun
Posts: 833

(True story)

Little fly, your brother's face
has caused you misery and strife
forever mirroring your trace
by the window to your life.

And when you tire and want for drink
your brother catches equal thirst
and delves into the mirror sink.
I saw you race to get there first.

But horror fell upon my eyes
I saw: Your brother purchased water
with his life. Oh stupid flies!
To run so eagerly to slaughter.

I picked your nimble body out
and dried you with the greatest care.
In brotherhood you were devout
I thought you gave your bro a prayer

when suddenly you leapt up high
and flew back down at break-neck speed
to share the fate of a sibling fly.
The drainpipe was your final deed.


Svein Olav

.. another life

[This message has been edited by Solan (edited April 23, 2002).]
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Unread 04-16-2002, 08:54 AM
graywyvern graywyvern is offline
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: dallas
Posts: 717

It little profits that an octopus
In this still tank, amongst these mute reflections,
Should cycle through his tricks &, unrewarded,
Show anthropoidical intelligence...
To beak or not to beak? That is no question,
But purple versus mid-chartreuse & so
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks.
I should have been a pair of rainbow claws
Scuttling along smooth floors of Sea World turquoise.
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Unread 04-16-2002, 09:43 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 14,634


Two arms, two legs, how could they cope?
No wonder they all thrilled
to watch my eight long tentacles
do any trick I willed.

Under-legged and under-armed,
longingly they'd watch
the firm and giant tentacles
arrayed around my crotch

balance balls or show their might
through tricks I did for food.
I thought that it was permanent,
not some brief interlude.

But then one day the tent came down.
No one watched my tricks.
I felt like Jesus placed upon
a double crucifix,

every tentacle quite nailed
to form an octagon.
If heaven boasts of circuses,
I'm glad I'm moving on.

[This message has been edited by Roger Slater (edited April 18, 2002).]
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Unread 04-17-2002, 09:24 AM
Carol Taylor Carol Taylor is offline
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Houston, TX, USA
Posts: 7,797

An octopus beak, you say?
I learn something every day.

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Unread 04-17-2002, 09:48 AM
Jim Hayes Jim Hayes is offline
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Kilkenny, Kilkenny, Ireland
Posts: 4,919

Requiescat Octopus

What sort of trick can an octopus do—
pull lobsters from a top hat?
Take a mackerel and saw it in two?
Or change an eel to a sprat?

Is it a card-shark trying to hustle?
Renowned for the tricks that it did
dexterously shelling an edible mussel
with ink— like Billy the Squid?

Is sword-fish swallowing such a career?
Finding oysters in aural recesses?
Or making monk-fish disappear
aided by octopusesses?

What trick can it do with only a beak
when left behind by the circus?

[This message has been edited by Jim Hayes (edited April 17, 2002).]
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Unread 04-17-2002, 11:01 AM
Carol Taylor Carol Taylor is offline
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Houston, TX, USA
Posts: 7,797

I would have expected a final ovation
to follow it's death--by strangulation!
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Unread 04-19-2002, 10:06 PM
Terese Coe Terese Coe is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 7,489

The Wily Octopus

Among the North Pacific type,
We're intellects like Michael Stipe—
Why, even homicide is known,
Though no 'Puss ever squirts his own.

The suicide you've read about
Was only that of Brother Trout,
Who yammered like a yentacle
When trapped inside my tentacle—

I really would have let him go
Except he was a Sea-rainbow,
And they and we don't get along
Since they are weak and we are strong.

It's not as if he liked his life
(He couldn't bear his Jelly wife),
And rainbows are the only breed
Who criticize the 'Puss for greed!

The very thought! As if his brain
Had any inkling of our pain
Or even tried to sympathize
With us whose ink is black as lies—

And when the blackness cleared away,
Self-martyred trout became buffet.
I doubt that any one of you
Could fathom quite the tricks we do.


[This message has been edited by Terese Coe (edited April 19, 2002).]
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Unread 04-24-2002, 10:35 PM
Renate Renate is offline
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 873

Farewell the octopus, he died by his own hand,
Put out with the garbage, not fit for hallowed land.
"A suicide” they said “after months of feeling blue.”
The doctor missed the signs, didn't see the changing hue.

"A drama queen" they sneered, "just looking for attention,
he's had more than his fair share, in Variety he's mentioned."
The circus world is rife you know, with jealous innuendo,
All vying for the spotlight and to be the Great Stupendo!

So with petulance these divas came up with something wicked,
"When the octopus performs, let's just stand and snicker",
Well he couldn't take the pressure of performing unapplauded,
Called in the union people, to have his plight recorded.

The investigation started, he was branded whistleblower,
Soon the audience had deserted and the pretty bunting lowered.
Now each one blamed the other, for being underhanded,
And the escalating trouble meant the circus was disbanded.

Retired to a tank, without funds and on a pension,
The octopus abandoned, soon developed deep depression,
His keeper full of guilt and concerned for his condition,
Had a pang of conscience and called in the physician.

He was the duty doctor, he had a reputation,
Didn't care much for the patients, he preferred intoxication,
He glanced into the tank, and without a second thought
Said, "do not worry much, it's just the flu he's caught."

You've heard about the camel and the straw that broke it's back,
The octopus decided then, "I'm off and that is that!"
There's a moral to this story, regarding a doctor's dominion,
Don’t take his word for granted, get a second opinion.

[This message has been edited by Renate (edited April 25, 2002).]
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Unread 05-05-2002, 08:08 PM
Robert Swagman Robert Swagman is offline
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio USA
Posts: 271

This story isn't of the squid
who, from fame and fortune slid,
undone by love and lust amid
her watery boudoir,

but of the octopus who held
her on a pedestal, bespelled
by beauty long and tentacled;
he loved her from afar.

He watched her slowly waste away
until that wet and clammy day
that she gave up and passed away
prostrate upon the sandbar.

The grief with which he was beset
then forced him to the fisher's net,
and his untimely end he met
inside a sushi bar.
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