Image by Simon Hollington

Elvis the Performing Octopus

Polly Clark


Elvis the Performing Octopus

Polly Clark


Poem introduction

This poem comes from something very small that I read in a book called The Noonday Demon, by Andrew Solomon, which is a book of essays about depression, and one section was about depression in animals. And there was a small reference to an octopus that was kept in a circus, and apparently octopuses are very intelligent - you can train them to do tricks. And this octopus was trained to do tricks in a circus, and when they closed the circus down, he was just put in a tank and no longer rewarded for doing these tricks and became very depressed. And in the end performed all his tricks one last time and then stabbed himself to death with his little beak, which was a horrible story, and so I wrote this poem for him. I've called him Elvis.

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