Friday, January 19, 2018

The OCTOPUS REVIEW #3: Winter 2018

Hallelujah, it's finally here! And what a fine issue it is. Thanks to all my contributors for your patience. It's my first year doing this and it turns out late December is not a great time for a project deadline : )

So, without further adieuz…it's The Octopus Review #3 --


…………………………………………………………………Matt Borczon


Once in
college an
art teacher
told me
the best
way to
stop ruining
my paintings
was to
walk away
often so
the coat
could dry
he said
it would
take about
the time
it takes
to smoke
a cigarette
at 19
this was
a new
way to
think about
in the
time it
takes to
smoke a
paint dries
in the
time it
takes to
smoke a
the first
girl I
ever loved
said what
are we
anyway but
two people
who fucked
a lot
in the
time it
takes to
smoke a
a doctor
told my
father they
were taking
him off
chemo so
maybe he
could feel
good in
the weeks
he had
in the
time it
takes to
smoke  a
a stroke
killed Toni
while her
family attempted
in the
time it
takes to
smoke a
my wife’s
heartbeat dropped
below safe
level during
in the
time it
takes to
smoke a
stars are
born and
in the
time it
takes to
smoke a
flowers bloom
in the
in the
time it
takes to
smoke a
I met
my best
in the
time it
takes to
smoke a
Jesus turned
water into
in the
time it
takes to
smoke a
my daughter
walked for
the first
time into
my wife’s

but on
that day
in Afghanistan
when we
knew we
could not
save the
baby the
only survivor
when the
car hit
the IED
Doctors mixed
a cocktail
of chemicals
strong enough
to end
it’s life
in minutes
and gave
it through
an IV
but the
child held
on for
4 days
while we
watched helpless
counting the
minutes like
beads on
a rosary
waiting and
praying and
almost believing
we were
watching a
miracle happen
right in
the middle
of the
but in
the end
the war
won again
and the
child died
but it
took 4
days instead
of minutes
because time
is an
angry bitch
you can’t
with cigarettes

or tears.

COLLAGE #1 by Matt Borczon

The honest poem
wants me
to sit
in my
car all day
the honest poem
puts a
towel on
my head
after nightmares
the honest poem
reminds me
to spell
my name
with capital letters
the honest poem
puts 3 
in my coffee
the honest poem
is better
than a
drink after work
the honest poem
reminds me
there is
life after war
the honest poem
is magic
and loss
grace and
Buddhist calm
it's salt
it's ash
it's bourbon
it's God
and the devil
it's a
strait flush
a strait
razor a
year sober
a serenity prayer
an hones poem
is a
that there
is more
to life
than work
and pain
and burying
all our dead

was imitating
Sylvester Stallone
and making
everyone laugh
as he
to shoot
in the room

his eyes
were deep
black like
and there
was a
tiny line
of spit
at the
corner of
his mouth

that I
still see
the war
on his
face made
me worry
a lot
about both
of us.

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.

OMAR by Tony Egler

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

Gene Krupa on Drums 

My father’s fingers would never stop going.
At the dinner table, against his knee, on the wall…
Drumming a tune that he would hum sometimes.
Always to himself.

I doubt he even knew he was doing it at all.
It was probably subconscious.

Maybe his father did it 
and his father before him 
and he just picked it 

Children do mimic their parents 
from early on.

And my father kept doing this for years.
Gene Krupa on drums.
When I moved out some years later 
and caught myself doing it, 
I would admonish 

My father was wrong about so many things.
He couldn’t be right about this.

I imagine when he is dead and in the ground
the worms will get a drum solo for the ages.

Brain activity continues after death.
My father’s fingers likely will 
as well.

Fashion Week in Sinai

Come down from the mountain.
Your catwalk of ash and soot is waiting.
This cough is straight from the lungs.
Not tubercular, but determined.
When I clear my throat, the homeless 
population is rounded up and lead off
into guitar solos no one can seem 
to remember.

The hypnotist could help,
but he is kept under lock and key.
Groped all these women while 
they were fluttering eyelids.
Come down from the mountain.
In something closed-toed if I were you.
No one likes sand between the toes.
Not even the sand.

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.

COLLAGE #2 by Matt Borczon

*******************************************************Juliet Cook

Not a Member of Your Snake Handling Church Organ

I want someone to love the way I am now
rather than hear someone insinuate I used to be better
in the past. More balanceable, smaller, younger.
More willing to be surrounded by hissing snakes.

Those who will never stop hissing behind my back,
I want to move their extended tongues away from me
and my cluttered open space. I refuse to lock every piece of me
behind closed doors so they don't have to look or think
about the current me and can just keep on backtracking

to back when I was easier to control. That was the past. 
They can choose to interpret themselves.
They can interpret me their own way too, but
they can't tone me down or tidy me up.
So what if I am the opposite
of their dream? 

YARN CATS by Claire Vanessa Gray


I clawed my neck across the carpeting again,
because that's what sometimes happens
when I have another unexpected seizure.

I end up with temporary memory issues
and wounds. A random bruise on one knee.
Rearranged books all over my own bedroom floor
with no recollection of why, when, or how.

A big messy tear in a new pair
of web net thigh highs that I bought
at a Halloween store a few weeks ago, 
hadn't worn yet, hadn't even removed 
from their package until I did so subconsciously 
or semi-unconsciously or in the midst of a convulsion
or maybe they were just born that way. 

The way things feel these days, it's probably my own fault
for having my seizure on my own floor in front of books
and thigh highs, as though I wasn't aware 
that would give some men the wrong impression.

I mean, come on, what woman buys her own
legwear at Halloween stores unless
she's an evil fucking witch who deserves to burn?

Juliet Cook is a grotesque glitter witch medusa hybrid brimming with black, grey, silver, purple, and dark red explosions. Her poetry has appeared in a peculiar multitude of literary publications. You can find out more at

ANXIETY by Claire Vanessa Gray

************************************************Sudeep Adhikari

mother internet 

Mother internet; the new space-time
the all-pervasive matrix
of countless digitized raves,

out of nowhere, once
told me; "On average, there are
178 sesame seeds on
each McDonalds BigMac bun".

I did not know what to do with
that mini-enlightenment. I felt like Jeff
Lebowski stranded in the middle
of a career fair.


hollywood goes to hell-ywood

Few weeks back I noticed my 
friend from L.A marking herself 
safe on facebook from 
harvey weinstein, like one of those 
hurricane or terror-attack thing.

And the next week, I saw blogosphere 
OD'ing on "hashtag-me too" campaign
and it was painful to realize, 
how many raptors are out there 
with a dick, but no balls. 

And this week, I met a douche 
named hollywood at a party. I asked 
him what he does. He said
"I make movies, but mostly inappropriate 
sexual advances to women and kids".

Don't blame me for blowing
up an activism's balloon here. But we
need to detox ourselves a bit, if we really care. 

Sudeep Adhikari is a structural engineer/Lecturer from Kathmandu, Nepal.   His recent publications were with Beatnik Cowboys, Chiron Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Midnight Lane Boutique, Occulum, Silver Birch Press, Eunoia Review, Utt Poetry and Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis. His poetry volume, ‘The Art of Changing Nothing to Punk Gigs’ was released by Alien Buddha Press in July, 2017. He is currently working on his manuscript titled ‘zen of tripping zeroes’, scheduled to be published early 2018.

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


It's said a child can't remember      
    he did
    all of it
Darkness into light

Being bathed in a sink
First steps around the coffee table
Men who were not his father
     kissing his mother
Screaming, clutching her skirt
     innately understanding
     she wasn't coming back

It became an acquired skill
The art of disassociation

Pushing past the ruins
A bourbon enhanced father
wielding a leather strap
    sharing his pain
    on the son

He struggled with the day
  he always did

Tepid water escaped his face
mixed with lucite tears
falling from his fingers
       back home
to a pockmarked porcelain sink

Immobile in thought
blindly dancing
  with who he was
How long before he dreamed of
        electric sheep

"You’re in a desert Leon
 walking along in the sand
 when all of the sudden
 you look down and see a tortoise
 It's crawling toward you
 you reach down and flip the tortoise
 over on it's back Leon
 The tortoise lays on it's back
 its belly baking in the hot son
 beating legs trying to turn over
 but it can't
 You’re not helping
 Why is that Leon?”

He looked up 
into the mirror 
and had to laugh

The reflecting glass
above the sink
spiderwebbed in disbelief 
as his forehead slammed into it

He laughed again

  he sat cross legged

With the same slow deliberation
   of the passionate
  between new lovers kisses
He picked each bullet up
immersing it into the willing clip

He stood erect
concealing the weapons
and headed for work

Today, tortoises were going to bake.

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.

CONSTANTINE by Claire Vanessa Gray



Matt Borczon holds a degree in fine arts from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. See his poet bio above to learn more about him.

Claire Vanessa Gray is currently an art student living in Florida. Check out her gallery of work here 

Tony Egler is an electrical estimator. Before he was an electrical estimator he was an architect. Before he was an architect he was an artist.


  1. sweet!! Thanks for putting out this quality magazine!!!

  2. Truly enjoyed this issue even more than the previous. They just get better. Fantastic art work strategically placed. I particularly like ANXIETY by Claire Vanessa Gray. The eyes tell it all. Starting with THE HONEST POEM by Matthew Barczon the bar is set high and all together this is a great collection. Well done all!