My ekphrastic pornetry, “The Fisherman’s Wife” isn’t immediately evident as octopus porn. But yes, that poem is about a woman receiving “oral pleasure” from an (albeit sentient) octopus. There are two primary references a reader would have to know to “get this” in the pome. I didn’t just write, “Oh well, one day she decided to let an octopus and his nephew do a gangbang on her and feel her up while they were at it.” Poetry is often times about decoding what’s going on and this is a piece where I wanted to play around with the topic of octopii-seks without raising flags by people who squick-out at the first thought.
To “get” this piece, you have to either A) Know a few things, or B) be willing to google them & look them up. First reference in the Magic Decoder ring is the title of the piece with its reference to the painting, The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, a woodcut from 1814 by the Japanese artist Hokusai. Without looking that up, the second reference is not immediately apparent, but if you look it up would unlock the context of poem. That second reference is the direct use of the word, “ligula.” I wasn’t writing the piece to be obscure, I was writing it to be direct without straight up saying, “This is an octopussy pomelette.”
Frankly, this is where poetry becomes interesting: if you enjoy word games, delayed satisfaction, and the feel of your tongue moving around in your mouth. A poem is not necessarily all about “getting it” on the first read. A really good poem should pull you back in, sometimes several times to grasp all which is going on in it. You might not know “the whole story” on the first read. It might take you more than one read. You might have to look up words. You might find rhyme in the middle of a line. And each time you need to ask yourself, “Why?” The writer might be trying to pull you in deeper because there is another story to tell, a deeper story.
Some people use this idea of how many layers there are to a piece of work as the actual defining characteristic of poetry, as opposed to verse. But really, when it all comes down to it, a poem should be interesting enough that a reader wants to read it more than once. On the other hand, once I mentioned the poem was octopus porn, the cards flew off the table. Sometimes people just gotta be told that a piece of work is a puzzle. Maybe that’s how writers need to introduce work to a public unused to pornetry.