Octopus on Ecstasy

by Geneviève Paiement

Featured art: from A Picture Book of Practice Sketches by Rinsai Ōkubo

-In September 2018, Johns Hopkins University neuroscientist Gül Dölen
published a scientific study wherein she dosed octopuses with MDMA
to see if they would react like humans and become more cuddly. They did. 


She hypothesizes that humans are more closely related to octopuses
than we think. Fills a tank with ecstasy. Plunks in us two octopuses.

Just five hundred million years of evolution between us, she muses.
Surely what MDMA does to humans it will do to us octopuses.

Surely we’ll break out in the same cold-sweat/hot-flash, will twist-grind
our visceral humps, bump beaks, squish-entwine our fellow octopus.

Oh wow. I’m at the other’s central axial nerve pump in a house beat,
sucker-to-sucker, lights-out smoke machine to my sister sextapus.

So hot in this tank, can you feel, oh my hectocotylus. I feel so so so –
you don’t feel it yet? Oh just wait holy shit my goddess octopus.

Can you feel the bass right straight up your mantle, all up in my mmmmm.
Your bright siphon. Oh my ligula. Your suckers my holy sweet sucktopus.

Feel my beak, it’s so hard. Feel – oh my gills. I think. I might ink. I might
slip through that tiny gap. See it? Hit the crab tank like a real octomapus.

No you’re right. We should stay here. Keep suctioning each other. Oh
my squish! Look at your camouflage. It’s rapid-cycling, crazy octopus.

You’re brain coral, you’re algae, you’re a moving rock, you’re a strobe!
Oh my three hearts. My gills hurt from mashing. You taste so octopussy.

I lust you, I swear. I’m slurping your soul. My suction cups might explode.
Is your statocyst on fire? Trust me when I say I’m your forever octopus.

Hey Ms. Scientist, Dr. Mom! Look into our horizontal pupils: we never
want to leave this tank, this sparkle-wet hunk is your slut, is an octopus.

You’re not trapped outside the tank Mama Dölen, haha. Our radula is you.
We’re not inside. We’re so scientist, tank-peeping. You’re so octopusses.

Doesn’t it feel so fine, doctor, feel good, to be a head-foot making hump-
squirt with tank-tacles, your viscous cirri pumping glass to be our octopus?


Geneviève Paiement’s poetry, journalism and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry London, Seneca Review, Prelude, Tupelo Quarterly, The Literary Review of Canada, The Southampton Review Online, The Guardian, Salon.com, Vice, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She is a Canada Council for the Arts grant recipient, a Tin House Summer Workshop alumna and a hybrid genre candidate in the University of Guelph’s Creative Writing MFA program. She lives in Toronto with her family. Find her on Instagram @manygenderedmompoems.

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