The octopus called. She was out of ink. She said her worry was that the tentacle conclave was approaching and if fresh cartridges weren’t found soon, her oratory would suffer. I told her to use her hands. She called me a dimwit. She was right. I meant tentacles, I said. I’d slap your wig off, she said, if I was there. Bring it and your pseudomorphs on, I said. Yours’ll be the first letter I write when I get the ink-jet online, she said. Maneuvering the phone to my other hand, I snorted. I’ll include some mucus for your troubles, she said. I’ll stamp it in deep.
I hung up (you can’t talk to a sourpuss). My nose ran. It never returned. When I tracked the octopus down she laughed at my face. See what nosing around gets you, she said. You called me, I cried. No one can see your tears down here, she said. My eyes stung. I saw black. I thought I charged, but I couldn’t find a receipt. When they hauled my body out there was a long letter from the octopus. It was stamped Return To Sender. Humans didn’t listen. They froze me and studied the octopuses’ craftsmanship. They called it seabed ligula. There were bold predictions about interspecies relations. There were goggles, lab coats, and champagne. The office party got wild and that’s when the pelicans hauled me away, appendages in the troughs of their beaks.
Poetry, said the octopus on our last call, is what the water is. No matter what’s written on it, it is good. I don’t think that’s what the word means, I said. To you, she said.
In our dream band, on 5-string bass guitar:
Matthew Schmidt’s work has been published in Hobart, Pleiades, The Seattle Review, Territory, and elsewhere. He is an associate poetry editor at Fairy Tale Review and the Co-Founding Editor of the Iowa-based literary editing and educational nonprofit 1-Week Critique.