Monday, November 20, 2017

Winter Submission Call


It’s that time again—time for me to ask for your utmost submissiveness.

Please send me your ugliest sweetest brattiest loveliest literary darlings

And also send me your loudest profanest foulest most miraculous artwork

Those are the only guidelines I’ll bestow for the Winter ’18 edition of The Octopus Review

Oh, except these technicalities:

Please SEND YOUR WORK to me via Facebook messenger (if we’re FB friends)

Or to (if we’re FB strangers) 

Send 3-5 poems 

Or 1-3 artworks

Deadline is Dec 31

HAPPY THANKSGIVING from The Octopus Review!

Friday, October 27, 2017

The 8 of Tentacles Bodes Well for Travel & Impeachability

OH Friends, What’s Up?

Let’s hear it for our contributors to The Octo Review #2. Hundreds of views from all over the world, everyone loved it. (why do I feel like Donnie Trumpo when I say that?) 


Well I keep meaning to drop in here and let you know what’s going on, but these past few months have been so busy I haven’t had time to think, let alone be an octopus. 

You know how i HATE being busy, too.

And you know I’m trying to determine whether I have early onset dementia or if all the technologies have made my brain less linear and organized. (or maybe it’s the testosterone? but probably the dementia.)

There is so much i want to address here in The Octopus Extra Extra Fake News Diary—I’m going to make a list so I remember it all, and I’ll get around to expounding on it whenever.

1. The #metoo hashtag. This was eye-opening for me, but probably not in the way you think. I wasn’t surprised by the numbers, I was surprised at how sexual assault has come to include the slightest micro-agressions—stuff that was considered “nothing” when i was young—along with the most violent physical attacks. And despite all this redefining and boundary-setting we’re still not 100% clear on what sexual assault is. I think the hashtag started out as a “raise your hand if you’ve been harassed at work” but it became much more than that; women shared accounts that ran the full spectrum from verbal harassment to horrific bodily injury. [Some men chimed in too, either in support of women in their lives, or in revolt against sexual assault being seen as only a “women’s issue.”] But so many of the posts began, “I’m not sure if this qualifies as abuse or not…”

And since we’re still not sure what qualifies as abuse, it keeps happening with alarming frequency.

[I didn’t chime in. Had I known #metoo would be trending in 2017, i wouldn’t have written extensively about my experiences with sexual assault in 2010/11 (back when I was a better writer & didn’t have dementia). I didn’t feel like recounting it —again!— on the Facebook wall. But I do have more to say about the whole phenomenon; I picked up lots of cool academicky gender-studies lingo too, so you bet I’ll be slinging that around. SOON, in The Octopus Diary.]

2. I heard it was National Coming Out Day a few weeks ago. I read some (mostly) heartwarming coming out stories and it made me think… I’ve never told my coming out story because my coming out was sooooo prolonged and squashed and deformed and untimely and shapeless. I’ve decided I’m going to “architect” a coming out story that is both true and heartwarming, possibly w/ illustrations. Possibly an Adventure in Reality. I will share it here in The Octopus Diary. Soon. 

3. Speaking of coming out, Adventures in Transitioning continues and I’ll share some of my progress because you’re all adults and you can handle it: I’m still afraid I’m going to be made fun of (or labeled crazy, or beaten up) if I take myself seriously as a trans man. So I go about it in a half-hearted manner. Lately though, I’ve been passing as male more often, so I’m forced to reckon with seeing myself as a guy. It’s quite a mindfuck, both exhilarating & scary. I’ll say more about it SOON (you know where)

4. I experienced age-ism for the first time. I say “we’re all adults here” but are we? Just like gender and sexual assault, adulthood falls on a spectrum. There’s a funny little anecdote that goes with this & I’ll try to remember to tell it to you , here , in T.O.D.
Eloise & Pecker

5. But here’s the most important thing: In preparation for becoming a mystic in my twilight years, I’ll be offering free Tarot readings for the next year or so, or until I feel like I’m skilled enough to charge the standard mystic rate of $120/hr.

As you may’ve read in my Summer Series on Spirituality I have studied and dabbled in many mystical arts since I was young, but a couple years ago when I was going through an extra difficult time, I returned to studying the Tarot deck in depth. I found much comfort and reliable advice (not always easy, but reliable) in the cards, and I feel like I have a much more intimate, intuitive relationship with this fascinating oracle than I ever have. 

I would love to practice reading for other people, so if you’re interested, let me know. (If you’re local we can meet in person, but I can also read for you via Skype or the dreaded phone if you’re out of town.)

Eloise & Pixel

All right. That about covers it. As you probably heard (on Earbook) our little kitty Eloise died. Enjoy these photos of her unbelievably cute life.

I may not be back here until I finish my Illustrated Adventure in Coming Out, so if you don’t hear from me before the end of November, remember—

—submissions for the Winter Equinox issue of The Octopus Review open on Thanksgiving weekend. Send me poetry & art!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Octopus Review vol. 2

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::Lois Betterton

Almost Happy

You know how it is
when you try and try and try and break,
so you get back up
and try again … but nothing seems to make
a difference.
And nothing changes.

I was almost happy.

The wall never moves or falls
or surrenders to your will, never
cares about your ego or some
misguided effort to resist

I was almost happy.

And then a tiny sound
like the tinkling of a bell captures
your attention, and a sliver
of light gleams from the cracks
of the broken life
you tried to fix.

I was almost happy.

Suddenly, it all becomes so easy and joyful.
Your life is a stream flowing into a brilliant, rushing river
and this river meets the sea
in a primal splash of possibility –   
and the water gleams, rushing
into a tide of change and sets a course
that feels right and true. 

The sea spray envelopes you
with its own current and power, and resistance
diminishes. At that moment, you know
and understand the miracle
that whispers: follow me, let me lead,
embrace your own happiness.

Lois Betterton is poet who grew up in Yonkers, New York and has resided in Sarasota, Florida since 1998. She began writing poetry as a young child and has embraced the written word all her life.  She founded and hosts the Tea House Poets in Sarasota with other local, free range, organic, poets

Art by Steve Guthrie

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::Tony Egler

When the Story is New

The story is not new, it’s been told many times. In lyrics, in songs, in plays, in poems, in books, in movies and sometimes even on television. 

As animals we walked on four legs, low to the ground, connected to nature. The animal heard the fruit say. “What if you reach up with those feet and pick this apple.” It’s our imagination that allows us to reach for the knowledge of forbidden fruit.

The story is told again and again with many characters, many scenes, many settings, many version, many revisions and sometimes even on television. 

As the fire burns and the smoke curls we sit entranced by the rhythm of the voice, the melody of the tune, the turn of the phrase. “Lookin' for adventure. And whatever comes our way…is how the story begins.” says the voice of the author.

The story has gotten small. Emotions are now emojis. In blogs, in posts, in Tweets, on Facebook   and sometimes even on television.

As the last battery drains the power electric from our machines, we will be reborn as our natural selves again. We will hear the plants and the animals as if they are our neighbors. Our being will rejoin with nature and the story will be new, unending.

Tony Egler is an avid Science and Science Fiction enthusiast who for many years has engaged his muse as a spectator, but has longed to be an adept. He has practiced his craft with the development of screen plays, manuscripts and short fiction. He lives in Sarasota Florida with his partner and co-conspirator. His work has appeared in AntiMatter magazine.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::Allison Grayhurst

The Singular Sky

Move, I move
but cannot function,
prey to the wrong timing
and a host of flaws I have
not been able to label.
Bend, I bend
to the open coffin.
I am the last one here
to hold my flag and not let go.
There is fog in between
the path I am to follow
and the life that I lead.
The sky is singular, but
I have too many eyes that peer
in false directions, too many gasps of sorrow
and empty sides.
I take
and twist to and fro.
Still the light eludes me
and I am left miles below
the replenishing groove.

Art by Sandra Lefever

Letting Go

I throw up my hands
and feel the diving snow reaching me
from its place beyond the sky.
I make phone calls beside the bones
of a crumbled friendship
and say this is me and a good season
to open doors beneath my scared skin.
It is time to forgive the hardness of others
and my own turned-up defense,
time to re-walk the corridors and let
my disappointments be covered
and stored.

On The Line

 The reins are dropped,
icicles shift from roof to ground
though the colour does not shift
sure as I was, it would.
The broken glass is still in my pocket,
the cramp has not left my thighs
as I push for renewal.
The light is still dull, ants raid the
kitchen and pepper spills too much into each
good meal.
I gave it all for a sense of movement, willing
to lose what I still have not lost.
My understanding is stuck.
What I believed has not come to pass.
I am wearing the same old clothes.
I am dealing with the same message.
The carpet is curled.
I have no place to go.
What I did has not helped.
Such a long-standing ache as this
must be overthrown or become part of

my means of restitution.

Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Four times nominated for “Best of the Net”, 2015/2017, she has over 1125 poems published in over 450 international journals and anthologies. She has 21 published books of poetry, six collections and six chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay; 

Art by Sandra Lefever

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::Ryan Quinn Flanagan

I have watched too many people die
in the most horrible of ways
to ever feel good about life.
The ones you are close to are the worst.
It jades you.
Standing over them with your uselessness.
Everyone crowded around and looking down on them
like the space perverts of alien abduction.
Hardly reassuring for the dying or the living.
The morphine drip eyes rolling back in the head.
No more there then sunbathers in the snowy arctic.
And it is then that I notice the wallpaper
or water damage on the ceiling.
It is always something stupid like that, when you
should be doing something else.

And when the thing is finally done, everyone goes
their separate ways until the next time.

If I have the stomach for this,
I have not found it yet.

More of me is being taken 
all the time.


Zeitgeist and Mrs. Avery

pinch me –
this can’t be real,

oh but it is Mrs. Avery
the earthworms have wriggled up 
out of the dank dark earth 
to testify

no one will touch your makeup, I promise

your face looks like a trash compactor 
with lips 

don’t cry ma’ dear
your mascara will run 
and you don’t want that

think of your makeup 
and all that work you 
put in

that a girl,
push ghost children on 
lonely swing sets

what’s a Guggenheim grant, you ask?

that’s what people who say nothing 
receive for their contribution 
to nothing

yes, it is most confusing I agree,
acrobats with sandpaper palms 
jerking off the zeitgeist

I love what you’ve done with the place,
doesn’t look like Chernobyl
at all

do you still want me to pinch you?

it could 

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, The Octopus Review, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

Art by Peter Landau

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::Tim Anderson

Now you see it. Now you don't.

I was running,
running in circles.
Running hard,
running from myself.

I'm still not sure
if the underbelly found me
or I found it.
Spinning rides.
Stuffed prizes.
Three tosses for a dollar.
Surreal flittering firefly effects
of crack pipes being lit
in the darkness.

Pitch til you win.

The ever appearing
Carnival and sideshow.
Haven for the socially retarded
and men with stories best
left untold.
Dictators for owners,
who would have your hand broken
for the nickel underneath.

Every carnival has them,
the enforcers
The "Goon Squad."
Ponderously large men.
Men with a clarity of purpose,
inflicting pain.
Perched on their Tilt a Whirls
ever eager
to lend misery a helping hand.

Wet boards on moist meat.
My R.V. exploded.
It woke me.
Misery's helping hands
had just slammed
three hundred pounds
of overworking mouth
against my home.

I stepped outside
in my boxers.
My stomach dropped.
I yelled
over and over
"stop! you’re killing him."

Moon looked up and said
"Delta, back out, this ain't about you"
I yelled again.
Two of the four turned on me
"I guess we'll just have to whip your ass then."
Never one to run from a fight
I turned
and very briskly
walked away.

Unfolding like frozen meat thawing
the fat
I should have kept my mouth
wormed his way under the bunkhouse,
Escaping a week’s worth of
morphine drip.

Art by Peter Landau

Morning came,
smells of coffee and
fresh piss
greeted my nose
as I drifted thru the mobile bunkhouses
to wake my crew.
There sat the barrel chested
face battered
overweight Italian
spilling off the sides of his stool,
struggling to put footware
over his hooves.
" Man" I said.
"You should know better
than to smart off to those guys.
If I hadn't stepped out
they would have killed you."

He looked up from
lacing his boots.
I got a clear view
thru his empty eyes.
Beelzebub's beavers had been busy
gnawing away at his skull.
He replied " Fuck you."
He paused for another breath
and said "I didn't ask for your help.
It's a free country and I can say whatever the fuck I want.
Fuck them."

I tried to smile.
"So does this mean
you’re not buying me a beer?"
Trying to stand,
the overweight slicked backed hair Bronx accent said
"Fuck You."

It didn't take long.
At most a couple of days.
Moon and the boys
were giving away
another beatdown.
Barrel chest was on the ground
fetal postion
going limp.
I removed my crown of thorns
got my lawn chair
and a beer.
I parked my chair
in the slot
marked indifference.
I sat and opened my beer
and watched ole boy
gain his freedom.

I didn't say a word.

Tim Anderson, originally from Memphis TN spent a great deal of his youth with his backpack on traveling the States. Having a penchant for honky-tonks, free spirit women and roadside taverns there are many of these States where his welcome was worn out.

Art by Peter Landau

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::Russell Jaffe


It’s not true what they say,
You know, about death and taxes.

There are a lot of tax loopholes
A few of us escape through.
Everyone is born. And no one escapes death.
Despite our elegies in lives, even our idols die.

That’s why life is all we assuredly know we have. 
Right now, you are reading a book.


Glass is a very small, slow liquid
Designed for seeing yellow by.

We’re all equalized 
In yellow.
“O yellow eye!
Let me be sick with your heat!”


You should absolutely care how you look
Because you are an art object.
You are fucking special.
Don't let anyone tell you you're not special.
Do you have any idea what it took for you to be here?



Russell Jaffe is the editor of TL;DR magazine ( ), teaches at Loyola University in Chicago and Fusion Academy in Oak Brook, and stars in literary study guides for Course Hero. He is the author of the poetry collections This Super Doom I Aver (Poets Democracy, '12), INTROVERT//EXTROVERT (Punk Hostage Press, '14), LA CROIX WATER (Damask, '16), and Civil Coping Mechanisms (Civil Coping Mechanisms, '17). He wants YOU to know that the kingdom of the dead isn't some afterlife far-off place, but a place that rises up and around us, between the spaces and cracks like a mist, until it overwhelms us, and then, as if suddenly, we have always been there.

Art by Sandra Lefever

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::Mike Zone

visions and licks
higher learning 
at the cost of dying light
 a system of point
 a point of sale system,
welcome to the institute
 the class act follows
the understanding of power
 truth justice benevolence- discarded 
 greed discontent malicious intent
what does it say when all we want power
 but none of it really flows?
 krypton exploded, gotham is burning -the institute rising
 drones are flying- reigning lenses broadcasting minds- thoughts- opinions 
editing desires no one's whistlin' dixie
 but high on red alert
 constant suspicion in constant division
 sky on fire 
water into muck- learning into dissent 
thinking toward contemplation-meditation 
numbers don't lie 
 manipulation of language renders them unstable
there's upheaval in the heaven of a holocaust 
at what cost but to the dying and walking dead
 the hammer comes down
 the gods hit the road
 a bleak comedy of existence- on planet zero
 when we could  pilot spaceship-eternity 
but that's okay in the indoctrination cult antics of it all 
this was bound to happen 
 the ice-cream people waver distracted by 31 potentially life changing flavors

Mike Zone is the author of Fellow Passengers: Public Transit Poetry, Meditations & Musings and Better than the Movies: 4 Screenplays. His poetry and stories have been featured in: Beatnik Cowboy, Horror Sleaze Trash, In Between Hangovers, Mad Swirl, Rasputin Poetry, Synchronized Chaos, Triadae Magazine and Your One Phone Call. He scrapes by in Grand Rapids, MI.


Steve Guthrie is a graduate of Ringling School of Art & Design. Check out his band WASHBAER somewhere on the internet.

Sandra Lefever holds a Fine Art degree from Carnegie Mellon University. She was born, currently lives, and frankly, will probably die in Sarasota, Florida.  Instagram: mytinymoleskine

Peter Landau draws and writes in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife and three children. His drawing can be seen at, his writing at, follow him on Twitter and Facebook