Appetizer Augury

by Jessica Tyson

Tonight, I clear a plate of calamari fritti
             from table 53 where alone
there remains a tiny fried cephalopod:
             upright, intact, ready to skitter
into a vanishing marinara pool. “Can you put him
             back?” they ask & the tentacled sea witch
within laughs, poor, unfortunate souls—we know
             that chance was battered and bubbled away in oil,
an odd mercy denied the baby octopus,
             whose limbs are severed while alive
& served to twitch & squirm, suction-cupping
             the wasabi sauce, the tablecloth, the teeth,
tongues & cheeks of the chewer—unaware
             their boneless body & trio of hearts hasn’t departed
the kitchen but still the noncentral nervous system
             demands more motion, more mobility to force
forward toward coral or kelp or maybe the glass windows
             of a home: the tank of Paul the Prognosticating Octopus,
victor predictor of seven soccer games one summer,
             making his choice by gripping an emblemed lid
to retrieve the goal of mussel treat. Prophesy costly,
             only months later he slept into death. This last legged
fry of the sea will ride a trash wave out of town.
             The failing arms thrash out for a phantom mass & can
attach themselves if unchewed to a throat,
                                       where they’ll cling for dear life.

Jessica Tyson Huset (she/her) earned her MFA at the University of Washington. Her poetry has appeared in Apeiron Review, Crab Creek Review, Rip-Rap, and The Acorn Review. She is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and currently lives in Southern California with her husband and cat.