Friday, April 6, 2018

The Octopus Review #4 is Here!


I’m pretty excited about the new issue of The Octopus Review because it marks a whole year of doing something I wasn’t sure would even happen the first time. Now there are 4 issues, one for each season, and I look forward to continuing as long as people will send me their work.

I think you’ll enjoy the stellar words & images here, so dig in to THE OCTOPUS REVIEW #4


******************************************************************Steve Brightman

That Ancient Maneuver

Coming up Dodge Street
on trash night and someone
must have been moving out
or must have taken advantage of
the Memorial Day mattress sale
last weekend because a giant white mattress
was on the curb. Even though
we are knee-deep in the 21st century,
fading sunlight made this mattress
look like a trojan horse knocked sideways.
And I was less surprised that
the trojan horse mattress was upended
than I was that someone
would have tried that ancient maneuver
on the sons and daughters of Akron.
Our fathers told us long ago.
Our mothers taught us long ago
to love, but to confirm.
Trust the heart, our mothers sang to us.
Don’t trust anything that comes
from the belly, not even
your own blood as it spills
into a parking lot on South Hawkins.
The belly is a liar and
it always has been.

"SMASHING ABSTRACT" Oil pastel by Jay Mora-Shihadeh

Ninety-Seven Of Anything

Seventeen days,
through an odd

and unexpected
blessing via phone,

became ninety-seven
and ninety-seven

of anything 
- especially days -

is more than a man
can carry home.

Steve Brightman lives in Akron OH with his wife and their parrot. He firmly believes that there are only two seasons: winter and baseball.


"CONSCIOUSNESS" Acrylic/canvas by Maggie Davenport

******************************************************************William Taylor Jr.

Ridiculous People Expecting Me to Help Them

In the dark and quiet hours the loneliness of the world is there
like a gas station bathroom in Yellow Springs Ohio. 
The night full of other peoples' loneliness
and not much to be done for it. 
My laptop sits open on the floor,
windows flashing messages 
from lonely people wanting to chat.
The loneliness of the world is a telephone 
ringing at 4 a.m. or someone on a bus
dragging you into useless conversation
when you only want to gaze out the window
at the buildings and signposts, and now 
people on the internet are telling me
that Denis Johnson is dead.
I'm hoping it's a mistake,
but more and more it's looking to be true.
There's a pile of books before me,
his among them, 
as I was searching for a poem 
to show a friend.
Mr. Johnson, he knew
some things about the dark
and the people lost within it,
people like myself,
sitting here with drink
and reading old poems
by the long and newly dead,
chat windows flashing like sirens.
Outside it's 4 a.m. and broken hearts 
litter sidewalks like butt ends 
and beer bottles, but no one's 
coming round in the morning 
to sweep them up.

"MISTI" Acrylic/canvas by William Taylor Jr


Haight Street, the Summer of Love, Fifty Years On

It's a Tuesday afternoon and I'm drinking 
at Murio's Trophy Room. 
It's a mellow vibe, a handful of people 
chat up the bartender and sip their beers.
There's quiet laughter and two  
yellow dogs lounging beneath the stools.
There's an old guy looking like Henry Miller
as he sits by the window with a Pabst Tall Boy
nodding his head and tapping the bar 
to the ska on the jukebox,
and I think how I would like to live 
long enough to be him one day,
and then I think about how 50 years ago 
Richard Brautigan stood on the corner 
right outside this joint
handing out his little books 
of poesy to passersby;
a useless and beautiful gesture;
and I think how everything that's worth 
much of anything is a useless 
and beautiful gesture,
as outside the runaway kids still sit in doorways
and wander the streets in search of drugs and  free love 
and answers they'll never find
to questions they've already lost interest in,
and I think of how it still feels like San Francisco
even now, in spite of everything,
as one of the yellow dogs
stretches and yawns and the old guy 
gets up and waves and says
“live well” as he steps out
into it all.

The Hatred of the Universe

The universe hates me, she tells me over drinks.
She moved to San Francisco just a year ago
and she's since lost four jobs,
made three visits to the emergency room,
spent two stints in the psych ward,
and suffered a nasty breakup 
with the woman who brought her here.
Earlier this afternoon her mother called 
to tell her her father is dying, 
and she's booked a red eye flight to New York 
with the hope for a chance to say goodbye.
For now I sit across from her drinking gin and thinking
how the universe doesn't much care for her 
one way or another;
the stones and thunderbolts are cast 
haphazardly but find our hearts eventually.
More often than not whatever it is that's left of us
survives to enjoy the sometimes decent spaces 
in-between the onslaughts until the next 
one arrives. She is pretty in her sorrow,
and I tell her the universe thinks she's just fine.
There's time enough for one more round
and we drink awhile in silence as everything 
goes on until it doesn't.

William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.  He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a volume of fiction. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. He recently edited "Cockymoon: Selected Poems of Jack Micheline," published by Zeitgeist Press in 2017.  "From the Essential Handbook on Making It to the Next Whatever" is his latest collection of poetry.


"BIN" by Keith Winkle

*********************************************************************Matt Borczon

Marcel Marceau

learned mime
from a
teacher who
totally nude
this was
after his
time fighting
in the
French resistance
this was
after the
war taught
him to
keep his
mouth shut
after the
war locked
him in
that glass
box he
never figured
out how
to get
out of.

COLLAGE by Matt Borczon

Everybody knows

you shoot
the horse
that breaks
its leg
you kneel
before you
pray you
dot the I’s
and cross
the T’s

everybody knows
that tombstones
are always
cold and
death is
a warm
meal you
shouldn’t eat
that Saints
weep wine
politicians lie
husbands cheat
the universe
expands and
stars explode

everybody knows
the world
is covered
in water
that monsters
live miles
under the
ocean that
meth will
make you
sell your
kids and
love fits
in your
like condoms
or cigarettes

everybody knows
that grace
fits on
the head
of a
pin that
art eats
its children
and science
makes robots
smart enough
to write
this poem.

Matthew Borczon is a poet and navy sailor from Erie, PA. He publishes widely in the small press. He has published 6 books of poetry, the most recent The Smallest Coffins Are the Heaviest was released through Epic Rites Press this year. He is the father of 4 kids and he works way too many hours to survive.

COLLAGE by Matt Borczon

********************************************************************Lois Betterton

Luck had nothing to do with it…I have finally found a home.

I always played fair, always enjoyed the game,
And, shining brightly now is my reward.
Just like a play the acts unwind
and spin their threads into a worthy tale,
woven into color stories studied all my life.
Enough to know that secrets seldom leave a trail,
as words hold secrets and reveal
the hidden truths that
can be reworked like supple clay,
and glazed and decorated by fire,
hardened into immortal stone one day,
interpreted by what we always say.

Learn just enough to work the words
successfully in truth and even just for fun.
Remember to forget enough to make it through
The reality of being unwittingly alone.

It wasn’t easy to be an adventurer.
There was never a question when the compass sent me South.

The music really caught me by surprise
and art as I ran into the sea,
all calculated risks for sure, I danced and spun
with laughter and still hold
onto the joys of love in all its goodness now
within my heart’s deepest delight 
appearing right in front of me.

I smile today when glimpses suddenly appear,
especially when a tune catches my ear.
As various shades of blue and sailboats drift right there
before my eyes that daily just appear
before my very own eyes, often a surprise, inspiring me to work
these words with friendly face within this place right here.
Us, you and me, face-to face, this cannot be replaced, 
this moment that we share in this small theater here.

I can honestly say that luck played no part in any of it.

I do believe I’ve been lucky, seemingly by accident at times,
sometimes with dreams of impossibilities deliberately coming into play.
And I’m convinced there’s always been a plan,
when words worked their way into the plot.
So, I’m convinced there’s always been a plan
whether we're prepared or not.

Play with the words and make ‘em work.
Deeply listen and they’ll tell you what to say.
Work your words with caution in your mind
and use them in your own specific way.

Taste them on your palate first.
Yes, listen first and then digest their power.
Taste and smell them, toss them in the air
and weightlessly reach out into each eager ear.
And know the moment must be right,
Yes, even when the outcome’s out of sight.

Work all your words with style, finesse, and care
for all concerned and mostly for yourself.
Their shapes and sounds will directly lead
You to the very place you need to go.

Lois Betterton is a 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 Word Show in Sarasota with other local free range, organic poets. 


"TINA" Watercolor by William Taylor Jr

********************************************************************Tim Anderson

Squawking wing flapping
nasty ass creatures
feeding on god knows what.
There's no traffic.
The desert is as dead
as the carcass
thats being 
I walk past the
a few birds hop and hiss,
I whisper
"no thanks, I've had lunch."

I haven't seen a
pass in hours.
Just a few semis roll by,
ignoring my thumb.
Wonder if they saw my finger.
Southern Arizona is a bitch.

With feet straddling
the highway stripe,
I squint my eyes
and piss for distance,
fooling myself
that I am making it rain
on the mountains
in the blue horizon
over a hundred miles away.

More cars pass.
No one looks
at my eyes.
I dream as I trudge along.
I dream a car stops,
a woman gets out.
I see the need
on her face.
She seems frantic.
She shoves me down
on my back
without saying a word.
She's hungry.
She pulls my cock out,
straddles me
and guides it in.
She’s wet,
very wet.
Her hands rest on my chest
she arches her back..

A car lays on the horn.
An angry blast,
spining me around
as it roars by.
"Get out of the road you fucking idiot."
I look down and see
I have an erection.
I actually have a hard on
down a dead highway
in a hollow wasteland.

The dot gets larger
and larger
till it takes the
of salvation.
At the end of my arm
the sign of needing a
They stop.

The portal of doors beckon. 
I toss my pack in back
and slide in next to it.
Two shithawks with
17 teeth between them
swivel their boney necks around
and ask
"how far?"

The warmth of the 38,
blue steel 
in my
cowboy boot
answered back.
"as far as your going."

Tim Anderson originally from Memphis TN, spent a great deal of his youth with his back-pack 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.


"DIVINITY" Acrylic/canvas by Maggie Davenport

*********************************************************Ryan Quinn Flanagan

The Hittites Doing Jell-O Shots
off the Naked Bellies of the Egyptians 
Between Wars

some semblance 
has to materialize 

that is what the Enlightenment promised,
but the Enlightenment is goners

baked into a cake 
and forgotten 

so I crack another Vodka mini 

imagine the Hittites doing Jell-O shots
off the naked bellies of the Egyptians 
between wars

that strange way best friends can be mortal enemies
when a girl is involved 

running hair behind my ears 
and saving it for later 

knowing the banks will always open 
before the minds do

staggering home 
through a green 
Peruvian mist 

hoping Rembrandt’s Night Watch 
has the evening 


the mind numbing agent is a double spy
Botticelli full of cavities and painting nimrods
into the hen house   

Portrait of a Young Man (1514)
not at all like Magritte’s 

sorry Raphael, bring her in for 

the right people want to know
and the wrong people 
have all the methods 

extraction yes, amateur dentistry,
Peter the Great was more than a pace car

my bathhouse 
is not your bathhouse 
and neither of us has gone 
cold Turkey 

you can do it if Narcan do it,
I’m a positive Polly 

just kick the damn tire 
and listen for 

"FLEZBEVRIN" by Keith Winkle

Dashing Prince Frivolous 

Today is a glittery day,
I put on old Andrews Sisters records 
and prance about my room 

a real debutant

back from the ball 
and lost to love letters that leave out 
all the sweat and thrusting 

chipped enamel from a frequented cup 
finding a home under unclipped nails 

a slim volume of Cocteau translated in coffee grinds
and fixed addresses

archeology should never be of the living breathing mind
that is where Picasso got it wrong with all his women,
but when the results are good, who’s to question?
Hardly the artist.  His brake pads have been faulty 
since inception

Is it you then?  Dare we say, the censor?
Dada never answered anything because it never
acknowledged the questions.

Verlaine with all his decadence 
and not a single head of hair

La Voix humaine –
Dashing Prince Frivolous:
Je reste avec vous 
Edith Piaf  

this $7 sunhat across my forehead
thwarting away distant brown 

and the way I see it
Africa is rich in history 
and poor in circumstance 
which is a very academic way of saying
the poor are on their own 

as I skip across this room,
gallivanting really

knowing each of King Arthur’s Knights 
by name and sexual preference 

Malory’s lazy eye in the sky 
like Capote from the nosebleeds
of 20th Century America

the way his wavering coin slot voice always 
tried to make you disbelieve him

as you went from page to page 
wondering when the truth would make 
an appearance 

and ruin it 

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.


"UNTITLED" by Keith Winkle

************************************************************************Tony Egler

Let's see...

On the day I was born my eyes opened, but I would see two of everything.
When I was seven my eyes were cut with a scalpel and sown with cat gut.

I remember waking to bandaged darkness that made me forget what light was.
When the bandages came off my eyes they were born a new and light bathed them in singular forgiveness.

Now, alone, I sit in a cardinal world with only one of everything, wondering what the double of this or that was doing.
When I realize seeing double was not the problem, but the not knowing which was the mirror image.

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.

"FIRE & WATER" Acrylic/canvas by Maggie Davenport


Jay Mora-Shihadeh was born in Philadelphia where he attended The University of the Arts, receiving a BFA in painting and drawing and a certificate in Art Therapy in 1992. 

Jay’s artwork has evolved from experimenting with representational to abstract expressionism. He employs bold color that is both direct and expressive. Physical, sometimes brutal uses of line shape and gesture are the hallmarks of his work. He strives to grasp the unknown, the subconscious.  As an artist, spontaneity and process are as important to him as the end result. 

Currently he resides in Sarasota, FL where the sunny, colorful landscape imbues itself into his work. His art can be seen on Facebook and Instagram. 

William Taylor Jr. is an artist and poet living in the Tenderloin district of SF. See his poet bio above for more info.

Matt Borczon holds a degree in fine arts from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. See his poet bio above for more info.

Keith Winkle: Visionary? Yes. Artist? Hell no. But I love art and I try to create when I feel the pull. I was born in Ohio but raised on the offshoots of Jupiter. I graduated from Ms. Elkis’s art class, Riverview High School.
[ed. — artist? hell yes. I should know, I graduated from Ms. Elkis’s class too.]

Maggie Davenport graduated with a BFA in painting from Ringling College of Art and Design in 1999. She currently lives and works in Sarasota, FL. Much of the imagery in her work depicts her experiences of finding connection to a higher state of vibration or “being in the flow.” This is the state she works from when painting. A place of being open and connected. There is no thinking, just painting.