Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Octopus Review #8


It's finally here —The Octopus Review #8!  This will be the last Octo Review in this space in this format, and it is a good one!  I will be back soon with news about the new incarnation of the Octo Review.

I think great things are happening in the poetry scene and I've been honored to participate in it with you all. Thank you not just to this batch of poets and artists but to EVERYONE who has contributed to The Octopus Review the past 2 years. You'll never understand what it has meant to me.

Also—I can't believe it but no one submitted any octopus art : )) For the first 3 or 4 issues I received several octopus submissions and I rejected them because, you know, I thought it would be octopus overkill. And this time around? Nothing. Oh well—you guys always surprise me.

**************************************************************************Barbara H. Moore


Standing on the rooftop, I am Juno, Ceres, 
Victoria, Minerva, Hecate, Iris, Diana – 
wind in my hair, sun rising to greet me.
I contemplate flight over a city awakening, 
scoping out freshly mown territory – 
looking for places to hide in plainest sight.
Simply clad in camouflage, blending in 
with treetops, I am pleased with last year’s crops 
but not content. Over and again, I rise victorious, 
no ashes in sight, with wing expansion greater 
than my own capacity for dreaming. Wise but 
not without faults of jealousy, suspicion, 
my body armor never leaves my sight completely. 
I carry torches and threats to morph you into 
other forms if you double-cross me. I may 
surprise you, arriving when you’re least prepared – 
with cryptic messages and leftover nectar dripping 
from my fingertips. My eyes ablaze like silver moons,
and deadly as my aim is true, I do not suffer fools lightly.

Man Walking by Wayne F. Burke

************************************************************************Andrew Darlington

(Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield, February 2017)

I’m in the Hepworth Gallery
where someone’s draped
their coat folded over the chairback
and left their case slanting the seat,
with their tight-rolled umbrella
angled precisely across it,
I’m appraising in indecision
from different perspectives, see
a common on impermanence,
the transience of art and presence,
the outsider nature of being
and nothingness, absence and
what remains beyond leaving,
but no,
not installation sculpture,
just left by another drifting art-geek
in the Hepworth gallery

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

Gracing the Square
(An Ode to Poetry)

Crowds gather as the ancient sundial tells them what they want to know.
The bells ring, the crowd gawks,
Music fills the chambers as we enjoy their dimensions.
Tea? you ask, and I am charmed,
For your eyes sparkle and we both know what we mean,
And what we cannot mean.
Musicians are everywhere, even in corners we cannot see,

We can hear them only faintly now.
And finally the senses are relaxed as laughter
Spills out from between lips like honey from a golden pitcher.

Time is a man-made invention, a name and a promise
To move forward reliably; though, in reality, time is something
That can neither be contained nor defined. And man is so uneasy
That he gives time a measure that it can neither understand nor obey.

And no one is the wiser.

Untitled by Jim Zola

The ARTist

Fragment Raw Rage Unfinished
Untethered by convention, witnessed,
Unbound by perceived oppression,
Works his ART, visual expression.
Its soul cries out to be unheard, 
Poetry without a word,
A silent tortured naked scream
To his within, fulfills his need.
The ARTificial sacrifice, of life and limb, of modern strife,
The path unbroken, all his Life,
Revealing unseen, unknown truth
He carries from his sacred youth.
Generous now, he shares his view
For there is nothing he won’t do
To see how deeply he can go
I don’t think he can really know
How rare his magic, how his eye
Compels his hand, his raw heart cries
Out to the cosmos, to the Moon
His new work’s heartbeat emerging soon
To live its truth will come alive.
To be itself it must survive.
Releasing thunder, tenderness,
The ARTist’s heart, the gift possessed.

*****************************************************************************Robert Beveridge


an excess of legs
brushes against your sternum,
orgy of past due notices. the last time
you stood here, Canaveral
was still a cloak. the twilight
casts everything in hues of red
yet the traffic has not found a reason
to stop, you dodge bicycles
on the way to the deli, your chest
alive. bags of cats set you to ponder
the way to succeed. roast beef on rye
with extra mustard and a hint
of sliced olive. you wait for it to move.

Incels in Space by Peter Landau

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


It’s life and death every day on the Moon.
Hell, anywhere I guess. You don’t have to leave
Earth to die, plenty of that here everyday.

It’s more than where you live, it’s how.
Like, do you I-me-me-I your way
From relationship to relationship?
Or are you all in?

They said there was no place for us here,
that our lives didn’t matter. Not until someone
believed in us, helped us survive,
taught us how to live again.

First we made the desert bloom, then
we moved to the Moon. They called us Refugees,
but we always knew we were just like you. Free.

Dialogue with Articulated Formation by John Nelson

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

What if my most vibrant heart beats happened in the past
 and then my emotions gradually got stoned
 into grey?

Or maybe I'll never dry out all the way.

Today I took photos of my own menstrual blood,
because it won't be long before it stops.

Or maybe it will never stop.

Maybe when I die, the blood will still be gushing
out of my vaginal lines.

Bloodied screw hole.

Bloodied irises
in a flower pot.

Bloodied saint of torn apart poems,
dripping, thrown away, hidden inside 
underwear drawers and
underground dreams.

In which my vagina was a tiny tomb
for broken dicks
whose heads have managed

to convince themselves that I don't exist anymore
and maybe I don't in some mind's eyes.

I mean I'm not the same as I was 
when I was 20
when I was 30
when I was 40
but I do still exist
and I'm still the real me
no matter how much I change.

I want to be able to keep changing
for at least another 40 years, but
can I handle myself?


When I was a little girl,
my grandma made witch finger shapes
with pierogie dough. She knew
I would turn into a witch with entrails
stuck between dirty fingernails.

My nose keeps growing more and more witchy
and I can't tell if this is sorcery or another ugly sign 
of aging.  It is hard to believe that anyone really wants
to handle these spells. That anyone really wants all of me.

Brimming  with broom legs,
with bruises and veins, 
uneven blood flow, pulsating heart beats
underneath my skin. I cut myself 
shaving again, because the veins 
bulged into the razor blade.

The ever alternating landscapes
of quantifiable feminism.
then mental evaporation
then excavation from underneath the cuts.

Woods by Wayne F. Burke

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


hate burns his lips
sets fire to trees
scares off squirrels

he walks in haze
no longer knows color
until the sky bends
to touch him

he has long forgotten seedlings
in spring
redbirds in flight
wildflowers in bloom

this man...
my hunched over grandfather
carries his daughter's torn
underpants in one hand
my barrette in the other

the road to perdition
has many turns
barbed wire holds
shirt fragments

snagged from other
lost men who
tried to escape this route
before him

he cries out
to the god his victims
cried for when his evil
lay so heavily
upon them.

a storm rises
on the horizon
cloaked horsemen
ride its cusp

Untitled by Jim Zola


I still smell that war... 
it seeps from my bones. 

Oh praise to the soldiers
lined up on D-Day,
shivering, while the water
turned crimson 

We were so certain 
of our lives together
before Vietnam. 

Bodies pile up
in the Middle East,
a child's broken toy 
beside them.

When the shells 
hit his ship he slipped
further through that rabbit hole 
carrying him away from me.

Return to me,
oh souls of the dead
and the walking dead
for one last benediction

He didn't want me 
to drop braids, kiss a frog, 
or click heels together 
to help him return intact. 

White crosses shine
in the moonlight
at Arlington:
ghosts step out from the Wall.

I watch helplessly 
as he falls further. 
I reach out, but my hands 
grasp empty space.

Our warriors are gone now,
leaving behind those who mourn.
May we may hold their memory dear,
gain peace for what has been lost .

Dead now a year
I still talk to him -
program alternate endings 
into this jukebox called life.

*********************************************************************************Catfish McDaris


Stumbling outside from the monster
loud shrieking machine madness, the
black slate floor trying to swallow your
feet to the knees in phobic quicksand

A cigarette, a sip of water in a deserted
parking lot, night, like a workman’s
gloves fingers wearing through at the
tips grasping the sun, clutching that
orange red ball to his dark bosom

Quick dozed off leaning against a
concrete wall, he struggled awake
hearing a sound, a lady was playing
trombone with a monkey in a tutu.

What Is A Man? by Peter Landau

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

Try ( for Eliza at 10 years old )

to channel
the devil
with your
dance moves
to wake
the dead
with your
to scatter
the crows
with your
icy breath
the horses
sink the
ship shoot
out the
street lights
with the
fierce energy
of your
youth with
the power
of your
love and
anger try
please try

to change

the world!

********************************************CONTRIBUTOR BIOS******************************************

Andrew Darlington worked as a Stand-Up Poet on the ‘Alternative Cabaret Circuit’ and interviewed many people from the worlds of Literature, SF-Fantasy, Art and Music for a variety of publications. His latest poetry collection is Tweak Vision (Alien Buddha Press), while his new fiction collection A Saucerful Of Secrets is now available from Parallel Universe. His scientifictionnovel In The Time Of The Breaking (Alien Buddha Press) was published in January 2019. 

Barbara Moore is a New York poet and author of the slim poetry collection Dancing on Broken Glass (Nightwing Publications, 2014.) Her poems have appeared in numerous online and in-print poetry journals/anthologies. Barbara admires the ability to access the flip side of tragedy and believes it’s humor that keeps her afloat. An avid Bob Dylan fan, music is one of her greatest pleasures.

Catfish McDaris won the Thelonius Monk Award in 2015. He’s been active in the small press world for 25 years. He’s recently been translated into Spanish, Italian, French, Polish, Swedish, Arabic, Bengali, Mandarin, Yoruba, Tagalog, and Esperanto.  

Jim Zola is a poet and photographer living in North Carolina. 

John Nelson: “My paintings employ design to generate tension, and I use color for a release of that tension. I enjoy watching the art reveal itself layer after layer using newly discovered techniques while eliminating subject matter. Having no formal training , I can create in a manner that knows no bounds.“

The two poems by Juliet Cook appear within a chapbook called DARK PURPLE INTERSECTIONS (inside my Black Doll Head Irises), which will soon be published online by Dusie. It can currently be acquired in hand-designed print chapbook format in the Blood Pudding Press shop here - https://www.etsy.com/listing/689260672/new-dark-purple-intersections-inside-my?ref=shop_home_feat_1".

Lois Betterton grew up in Yonkers, New York and now resides in Sarasota’s Historic Rosemary District. 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 in Sarasota that showcases local, free range, organic poets.

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. He also holds a degree in fine arts from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

Peter Landau draws and writes in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife and three children. His drawing can be seen at https://www.instagram.com/peterlandau/  or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/peterlandau/

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. 

Robert Beveridge (he/him) makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in The Virginia Normal, Credo Espoir, and Chiron Review, among others.

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.

Wayne F. Burke:  “My drawings have previously been published in Portland Review, Flare, Grey Sparrow, Red Savina, and elsewhere. I live in Vermont, USA.”


  1. As is the way with greatness the time has come to turn the page. My mind is still digesting this last issue of the Octopus Review and how much I will miss it's occasional brilliance, unwavering passion and persistent truth. It has been an honor to be included, to share these pages with such wonderful talent. Thank you Valentine Tremens (aka Vin) In all you talent, your touch your inspiration. You have made us all better.

    I can not wait to see what comes next. Please do not leave us for hanging for too long. You are an inspiration to us all.

  2. Wonderful work, V! Loved seeing and savoring pieces by friends Barbara H. Moore and Lois Betterton.

    Can't wait to hear about and see "the new incarnation".