Thursday, October 11, 2018




HERE IT IS, THE LONG AWAITED 6th EDITION of THE OCTOPUS REVIEW! (Actually it only seems like it’s been an eternity since the last one. I did the calendar-math & it’s the exact same amount of time.)

In here we have rock legends fueled by Mothra’s gifts…a neighborhood witch looking for work…farting demons…a shadow master…a mermaid who succumbs to red tide…and many more nuances and horrors!

Thank you to these contributors who make this humble little zine what it is! 




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


comes to see me 
against warm musical 

was never a caterpillar
he was born a 

became Zeppelin’s mascot
back in the day

let them snort the powder
off his wings

they called it their 
“insect cocaine”

kept them going at 
The Royal Albert

and when he could no
longer fly,
they took him on tour

on their private 

or so he tells me 

on these long nights 
we spend together
by the sea.

Set the Mood

Set the mood, Mr. Candle Maker,
harvest wax from my unkempt ears 
fashion evenings into light.

Set the mood, my anti-depressants;
any man who can dream is never stuck 
with himself.

Paris in the Spring,
set the mood! 
set the mood!

On my hands
in the dirt 

holding earth


"riotgear" Photo by Chandra Alderman


Ever notice 
how the fog 
in Knut Hamsun’s

becomes your fog

how the head grows light
and you wince as his hunger 
becomes yours?

I have never had another book 
do that to me.

Which immediately makes it
one of my favourite 

I have starved 
and this is a man 
who has captured 

I can feel the pangs of his hunger 
sure as the static I meet 
opening doors.

Conrad’s Heart of Darkness 
was too far away
for me.

A Pole writing of the Congo 
for the English market.

But that hunger is something I know.

The way he appears invisible 
as though he is actually 

Some books find you.
Others become you.

I guess I have always felt 
that hunger.

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.

***********************************************************Lacie Semenovich


My husband contemplates the July evening, drinks beer, and plays with fire.
The sun rises over the highway blinding drivers, blinding me with holy fire.

My brother searches the Internet, classrooms, and crowded spaces for Mrs. Right.
Sometimes seeking love’s spark, one finds nothing more than ash and fire.

Her childhood hangs like bricks from her pockets. Her stuffed animals, fanged
and clawed rend her like a fatted calf. A sacrifice to her father’s joy and fire.

Un-mothered, unmoored, un-countried, orphans denied asylum at every port,
denied life’s bread, the body’s comfort, the community’s bond, humanity’s fire.

I hoard the dust of home, fallen dog fur, shed skin of all the bodies I have
loved into breath. In the end, my life’s lacey fabric cannot be consumed by fire.

"spiderglass" Photo by Chandra Alderman


The maple tree in the backyard
hoards its leaves this fall.
Draped in a shawl of memory.
Already December and she holds them
like a mother clutching a baby in flood waters.

I want to tell her to let go.
But who am I to speak? Who am I to say?
You hold too tightly
You must let go
Listen to me

I hold on to everything,
scraps of paper, coupons, books, 
the shirt I wore twenty years ago
when I met my husband,
stuffed animals I have outgrown,
wrong words replayed in the middle of the night, 
missed trains, the un-kissed,
as though letting go would unmoor me
from the earth.

Gravity should be enough.
The laws of nature should be enough.
My husband’s arms should be enough.
Love should always be enough.
But these are lies we tell ourselves.

I shake her trunk and cry
You are better than this
You are nature 
This is the passage
Be older, be wiser, be stronger 
than my brittle humanness.
Show me the way to letting go

I dig a hole between her roots.
I whisper into it the things you were not
brave, beautiful, carefree, determined,
growing, laughing, born, 
all the nouns and verbs
you never were.
Words don’t take up much space,
just like my un-memory of you.

I cannot tell the truth.

I cannot speak you away. I cannot write you away.
I have tried. I have filled pages with you, for you,
in spite of you, in place of you.
You and the words take up pages of my life.

You overwhelm my branches.
You sit inside my heart and wake me
at two in the morning. I cannot hire a sitter
so I stay home with you night after night.
I have made myself your hostage out of love
out of want, out of jealousy and rage.
I want to be
free of you.

I want to let you go like autumn leaves
and broken dreams, promises dashed
against the ocean’s waves. I bury
my head in the dirt and pray for something
beautiful to grow in its place. 

The Violet

My forgiveness is a bird flying away from me with years
clasped in her beak like bundles of straw.

My forgiveness curls in the dark, gnawing
cold bones and stinging marrow. She swallows

dandelion tea and roasted tree bark in one gulp. 
Bows her eyes to the wolf’s stare.

My forgiveness forgets she has been forgiven.

Emptied and shallow, my forgiveness shatters
like an antique candy dish thrown against the wall.

She is an eyelash bending in the rain. 
She covers her neck with beads of steel.

Quieting the spring sparrows she blows snow
through the front door of my mind.

Night-blind and lost, my forgiveness drives
octagons in the rain. Repetition, her own being.

The arms of my forgiveness break 
into plaster casts of the past.

My forgiveness wants to twist light into darkness,
shed the day’s dress into wash baskets to be cleaned.

My forgiveness wants to trespass the interior like an assassin
trained with crossbows and machetes. Her weapon 

a kiss, moistened breath, air gathered to the nostrils as silk.

Born in the Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio, Lacie Semenovich now lives and writes in the greater Cleveland area.  She enjoys hiking with her husband and dog.  Her poetry has appeared in Barrelhouse, Zygote in My Coffee, Kansas City Voices, Leveler, Rat’s Ass Review, The Ghazal Page, and other journals.  She is the author of a chapbook, Legacies.

**************************************************************Pris Campbell


In the wasteland 
of her sexless existence,
Pearl shreds photos, old
love letters, grabs his shirt,
the one she wears wrapped 
around herself when nights are cold.

A crow calls to her,
companion in sorrow.
from outside her window.

Men were so plentiful back then.
Like fresh flowers.
One after the other they pulled her
into their beds, bought trinkets,
made vows, true and false,
until her body, broken with illness,
could dance no more and the time 
for new beginnings had flown.

Her first love comes in dreams 
nightly now, flesh against flesh.
She strokes his damp hair, urges
him into her, body soaring,
the soil from his grave
still black on her white carpet
come morning.

"oldman" Photo by Chandra Alderman


She pretends she’s a witch,
(convinces some)
mixes brews of mysterious mushrooms,
grounds from coffee a celebrity
threw out and, once,
the hair from that yapping dog 
that inspired Billy Collins.

On full moon nights, she straddles
her broom for a lusty howl 
to rile up the neighbors
before settling into the drone 
of late night tv. 
It keeps her company
as she flips through the email
from her ‘witch for hire’ site.

Lonely fans, like her, write regularly,
ask her to cast spells,
bring them true love,
or to simply fulfill dreams 
they sent to the stars
in their childhood.

The poems of Pris Campbell have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including PoetsArtists, Nixes Mate, Rusty Truck, Bicycle Review, Chiron Review, Pulse, and Outlaw Poetry Network. Nominated four times for a Pushcart, the Small Press has published nine collections of her poetry and Clemson University Press a collaboration with Scott Owens. My Southern Childhood, from Nixes Mate Press is her most recent book. A former Clinical Psychologist, sailor and bicyclist until sidelined by ME/CFS in 1990, she makes her home in the Greater West Palm Beach, Florida. 

*************************************************************Jordan Trethewey

In bloom at the port of souls

Dad became a long-haul, roadside statistic.
Mother’s heart failed at the news.

Neurotic Nell’s separation anxiety
caused her to keel over by the back door

when neither returned—left only with me
arriving twice-a-day to feed her.

All returned to earthly ash,
I dug a ring around the rosies,

shook their condensed nutrients inside
like confetti at a worm wedding.

Outside my picture window,
their muted colours return

brilliant each Spring
in bloom.

Art by Marcel Herms

Trying to keep the demons outside

is easier said than done.
Every five minutes
they keep pounding on the door
whining and pleading 
to be let back in.

We're bored!
It's too cold!
There is too much beauty in nature!
Abbadon broke my toy!
Kitsune tricked me!
Tezrian is picking fights!
Mammon took my money!
Agramon is scaring me!

They want the remotes,
joysticks and controllers
lying around the house—
are lost without them.
Each longs to pour itself
back in well-worn grooves, 
wipe their dirty hands
on my white sofa, 
cover their farts 
with grey throw pillows.

Art by Marcel Herms

The Sentinel


The shadow man's face is a swirling hole
where darkness unfurls and light becomes trapped.
Glimpsed only at the edges of vision,
if you see him, you'll think that you've snapped.

Alone one night, after children asleep,
something slipped through crack between wall and door.
It seeped like a blossoming water stain;
when I turned, wasn't there any more.

A malevolent pall raised my hackles
that night. Old horrors did dance in my dreams.
I awoke drenched in sweat, a figure stood by my bed.
For the kids' sake, I did stifle my screams.

Rubbing my eyes, as dark tendrils curled out
of the gap between forehead and chin,
Each one stretched the hole, and held me in thrall;
then a scene in that foul cave did begin.

This diseased looking glass produced puppets of light,
the creature cured from the ambient moon.
While squinting my eyes, the scene then resolved
into my wife's deathbed hospital room.

He played back to me, what only I saw—
Julie's tired and sunken last days.
Lending credence, not doubt, to what I witnessed next,
with my horrified, grief-stricken gaze.

My kids appeared sleeping, all snug in their beds—
in a drowsy, ethereal glow.
The shadow man made them stiffly sit up,
and open their bedroom window.

Within spreading darkness, a muted light.
Conjured by spirits, causing mortal fright.


This simultaneous act took me aback,
because my children are nothing alike.
They spoke a strange pledge, then crawled on the ledge,
and immediately dropped out of sight.

Insanely, I laughed, then felt a cold draft,
as the figure's face started to shrink.
Paralyzed in my bed, I felt a deep dread,
and my mind was unable to think.

After initial shock, my throat came unlocked,
and I let out a blood-freezing scream.
In the corner, by the door, it sank through the floor,
and I felt I could finally breathe.

I put feet on the floor, it was cold as before.
My shallow breath hung suspended in air.
I blinked my sore eyes, and without surprise,
saw my children were no longer there.

Fear seizing my chest, I then stood abreast
of my children's open bedroom window.
Before I passed out, I uttered a shout;
their small bodies lie crumpled in snow.

I arose with a start, stared at the clock;
the time was half-past eleven.
I plunged through the window to meet them below,
but I did not ascend to a 'heaven.'

Having snapped my damn neck, I was a wreck.
but my children did somehow survive.
Now forever more, I darken their door—
a sentinel pushing evil aside.

Within spreading darkness, a muted light.
Conjured by spirits, causing mortal fright.

Jordan Trethewey is a writer and editor living in Fredericton, NB, Canada. He is also a husband, father (to two kids, a black cat, and a Sheltie), beer-league softball player, and remote sensing analyst (by day).

Art by Jenn Zed

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

Bubble (a mermaid’s tale) 

I love my ancient world, I love its calming currents,
I love the warmth and comfort of all I know, all that I was born to know.
I swim and play, I learn and grow - my impulses are native to my being.
I have evolved, I have matured, I have survived.  I am alive.

I follow my kind toward the land ahead, to the places we have always known. 
Our salty playground is clear and fresh and filled with life.  We love life.
We follow our nature into familiar waters that we have always been curious about.
We love the beauty and diversity of our realm.  We love its soft blanket of life-giving elements that nurture us and give us purpose.

The waters have turned murky, I cannot breathe...I am getting weak and my skin burns inside and out.  WHY???  What have I done to deserve this?  Why am I dying?  
I am not ready.  Who can hear me?  Who cannot?  What does this mean?  

Has our world ended?   




as one last bubble emerges from my body and fades into the muck that has taken me and all I know.  All I love.  And then nothing.


"my multitudes" by Chandra Alderman

Aftermath (a mermaid’s hymn)

Sunlight reappears, the tides return
with splendor in the gleaming light
as Life revives, perpetuating selfless will. 
And I recover, gasping, choking from the evil night. 
That first sweet breath of Life divine
sustains me, though I am in crisis still,
I am determined to survive despite this swill.

I bob unwittingly toward the surface once again 
into a clear new wave, oasis from the deadly stench
of my departed kindred of the deep 
as oxygen refills my lungs and I am quenched.

And with those sweet, pure waves of light from up above, 
and gasps of sacred air, shallow at first, 
I release my breath along with paralyzing fear 
as slowly my surroundings seem to clear
and burning eyes are no longer blind
as I assess the mess engulfing all that once was mine.  

I sense a change; concern and action from those legged folk 
whose thoughts create a consciousness, 
a frequency that frequently we share.
Now diving deeply, I return to Life
with gratitude, forgiveness, and with hope, 
believing that we all sincerely care.


Lois Betterton grew up in Yonkers, New York and now resides in Sarasota’s Historic Rosemary District Florida. She began reading and writing poetry as a young child and has embraced the written word all her life.  She founded and hosts The Word Show at The Reserve SRQ in Sarasota that showcases local, free range, organic, Poets.  Publications include ‘Dr. Alfonz Lengyel, RPA China Connections, US-China Review Winter 2010 Edition,’ her poetry blog ‘New Words,’ and edited ‘GUANYIN The Art of Compassion – Guanyin And the Welfare of Sentient Beings:  Images from The Medieval Period of China’ by Dr. Chang Qing.

*****************************************************************Chuck Harp

End Result

You’re the bag of bones we’ve all known,
hovering above bedsides.
The man, woman, child with a thousand faces
and a million names more.
You’re the spider spinning the web,
for the souls you’re eager to keep.
You suck on switchblades
and leave a trail of shells in your wake.
You’re the cause and effect
of fires in the states.
You’re the hate, the anger
that locks boils behind teeth.
You’re why money holds power,
whispering those to the edge.


You push us everyday
to breathe in the sun, absorb today.
You’re the reason for belief,
in ourselves, in doused in stardust.
You’re the fuel to drive us home,
to be amongst people instead of alone.
You’re the ink in the pens poking the pages,
scribing memories and dreams.
You’re why we pray each morning,
shocked to view a new day.
You’re a reminder of pain and despair,
is just as fleeting as everything else.

And You Are? 

I’m your hate,
the sweltering knife in your back
gasping breathes
while setting butterflies ablaze.
I’m what you hated,
the giant with gripping emotion,
stern eyes
looking down on the rest of the world.
I’m what you will hate,
the wrinkled grumpy old man
slamming fists
and stealing the children’s youth.

Chuck Harp is a writer with a barfly’s sense of story who currently resides in Los Angeles. His novella, Blooming Insanity, has been published with Dostoyevsky Wannabe and his chapbook, What Must Go On, has been published with Unsolicited Press.

"We Own Everything So You Don't Have To" by Keith Winkle

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

A Side Order of Pie

His soul stank
of Old Crow bourbon .
I listened with 
one eye.
He talked ,
lost in his dream 
of becoming the son of the savior.
Stretch pants and 
tired tits slithered between us.
Scrambled eggs gets it
over easy. 
I finish my beer
the same way I started it.

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.

*****************ARTIST BIOS*****************

Chandra Alderman’s work has been published by Nightballet Press, Crisis Chronicles Press, The City Poetry, and Thirteen Myna Birds. She haunts northeast Ohio in search of images and the perfect bowl of soup. See more of her work at

Marcel Herms is a self taught artist. His work is about freedom in the first place. There’s a strong link with music. Just like music his art is about autonomy, licentiousness, passion, color and rhythm. When he paints he uses everything he can get his hands on: acrylic paint, oil paint, ink, pencils, crayons, spray cans etc. Sometimes he mixes the paint with sand, sawdust or pieces of paper. He paints on canvas and paper and sometimes other materials like wood. He works in different sizes: from very small to real big and he doesn’t limit himself to one medium. He draws, paints, makes 3-dimensional objects and artist books (and audio art) His work was printed in many (inter-)national publications and he designed a lot of record-, book- and CD-covers. He has collaborated with many different visual artists, authors and audio artists from around the world.

Jenn Zed: “My name is Jenn, I make stuff. I’m more elusive Banksy than self-publicist Hirst” (Damien Hirst!)

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.]

1 comment:

  1. Congrats to all for a wonderful edition of the Octopus Review #6! I really dug the Halloween undertone and overall Fall feel. As the fun and insightful as I have come to expect, this issue has matured into a more polished edition while retaining it's tone and voice.

    All of the Art work speaks as load and true as the Poetry. Bravo Marcel for your intense forms with unforgiving color. I felt them as much as saw them.

    As I muse over these stories and pictures I too will contemplate the wonders of October, the season of renewal and reaping, hoping that once again I can capture that sense of the Fall we all felt long log ago in youth. Peace.