Old Octopus

Part of a Series of Poems about Films, and After the Film “Oldboy” (2003)

A mosaic of things to compose your halo,
an octopus on a plate
in parts,
under a sun
that is secretly Gaudí’s Greek cousin,
fashionably late to the celebration,
amid whispers of his maddening.

Bow-legged and troubled from recycling breath,
and television in the same box,
sleeping the entire room.

You wonder how the creator of this scheme
got away with it,
you wonder how it stays up,
about the lizards that the design can support.

In a frame of mind,
Gaudí, like Walt Disney, doesn’t belong,
and I can’t convince you of a different film;
I only have six arms and
two legs,
cut with a cared-for blade.

But the Sagrada Famílias are popping up like mushrooms
to dress the set,
the unfinished and sunny salad,
where tomatoes blaze alight.

The table,
first refracted by as much water
as wild hair that streams before your eyes
– that river is just the flow of days,
and you wake up in a different style,
sometimes enough for tears –
every morning

a fraction of that sea;
in your glass,
or glasses,

like the light,
that extends many running legs
on vivid grass,
and wide arms.

Old Boy,
of the movie,
I know
we can change the seas
in front of our world’s noses.

I know your angry
taste for octopus
is matched by your furious
memory of living,

and it’s not good to be an octopus sandwich
post-Moses,
a two parter.

I would like to
share a smile with a stranger,
more not knowing what to do when our overrated
paths cross
before this squid ink becomes
a leaking biro to stain a jean pocket.

And roll the squid
into contortions
of sushi,
in the House,
its heritage staircase,
when square topiaries are rooted outside by volunteer angels
and gardeners, behind us,
where we didn’t
miss each other.

All the inter-city passengers turned to comparisons with jelly,
watching things pass downwards
slowed inwards by fear.

The giant octopus,
could take the yellow bus for a petal,
wave it around a bit,
wonder what you are
as your body slides
from one traveller to another,
in the joy of being safe and alive,
passing through ghosts
collecting pocket change and
puzzle books
to the sound of my
trying-to-be-kind.

The problematical Enigma machine of sums
for the mathematician I’m not.
Adverse to cutting the wires of a bomb
though he must;
apparently the blue.

The machine
that in a spot of frustration,
the American Ensign says is “busted”,
under sea level,
with the last double bass player on a cruise ship
not to float.

Curl a cup around my suckers,
to drink the bitter saltwater,
and I just might be the spirit of an octopus,
and just as envious of a wash-cloth.

I can just imagine a chorus line of
us octopuses
high-kicking in a Studio System musical,
but useless in our hallway,
where we hang up our coats.

These are the notes, that the angels,
have me writing in margins
of a remake’s screenplay:

before I say something like “Rosebud”, or perhaps “donut”
there is never anything wrong with a donut,
as a reward
instead of an octopuses’ punishment for being alive,
instead of food that won’t go quietly.

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