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what octopus is this, at the edge of the great American desert

Jenny’s Grill 1231 E. Main St. Barstow open 7 days a week

full of Barstow families, Mexicanos & Anglos—

what octopus is this, the skinny teen waitress rushes

to deliver to me? (your choice—al mojo de ajo if you like

on a hot thick ceramic plate beside a pool of refried beans?)

octopus that once panicked and furled and unfurled

at the edge of what sea, like the little octopus I saw grabbed from

underneath its rock in the Sea of Cortez, how it squirmed and

wriggled to try to slide free?



Now it’s steamed or boiled and pummeled to tenderize, chopped

in pieces in tasty tomato broth with avocado slices and lime juice?

Caught and lifted from the water and pummeled and frozen in what

octopus fear, bagged or boxed and trucked on what truck, day or

night, how many days through how many hands, passing?

How many bills 0f lading far in offices, invoices on dashboards, signatures

on the exchange of this flesh of octopus, sweet as a girl’s.



Just this moment as I write this in my notebook, Tatiana Jimenez,

one of the owners sits in the red vinyl booth across the aisle with a binder

full of bills and invoices to work on her accounts, even as the waitress

hands her the phone, which she presses against her shoulder to speak into—

as she goes through her paperwork, and I’m spooning sweet flesh of

this octopus whose sea is red broth, onions and celantro, its one or two

years no time at all on East Main Street Barstow, far from its sea and those frightened curls.

—a writing prompt:

the mind flatters itself at its independence from the material world, as if the flame does not grow out of the wood.
but the body anchors us in time (in its processes, in cause and effect, in give and take, in loss and gain, in exchange and sacrifice)—and place (in a chair, on a room, in a town, on a continent, in a specific role in the economy according to consumption or production, in multiple places with proper nouns or common nouns) etc. the politics and economics of this were discussed in previous generations by writers like wendell berry, gary snyder, and others—and nowadays there’s something called the food sovereignty movement or food politics under other names. but this awareness goes back to ancient times as human survival depended upon it, and poetically in america is a part of walt whitman’s transcendentalism manifested in his poems such as “This Compost,” or “There Was A Child Went Forth” or “Orange Buds by Mail from Florida.”
SOMATICALLY, therefore, meditate upon or reflect upon some essential thing in the world that becomes part of your body, AS IT DOES SO, whether it is food, light, air, water, land, human affection, sound, sight, whatever it may be—write down your reflection or meditation upon something external becoming internal to you.

for a book of somatic poetry writing prompts, see also:

A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)tics by CA Conrad, 2012, Seattle: Wave Books

April 2012