Kraken by Merie Kirby


From the depths, where no
fingers of sunlight stir water,
1925, two great tentacles
found in the belly of a sperm whale.

Barest evidence that tales
might yet be trusted.
Online, a colossal squid,
mantle mottled blood orange,

largest eyes of any animal,
dead in a shallow tank, defrosting.
Wrecker of ships,
maker of whirlpools,

poor monster.

Swiveling hooks of tentacles
battled for survival,
author of raked scars
across backs of whales,

signs of existence
no one read before.
This new female specimen
weighs 770 pounds,
her mantle full of eggs,

she swam the Southern Ocean
water filling her mantle
as air fills a parachute,
tentacles reaching for toothfish,

large eyes watchful.
The scientists are disappointed.
They hoped to find a male. The Kraken,
they say, escapes again.


Merie Kirby grew up in California and now lives in North Dakota. She teaches at the University of North Dakota. She is the author of two chapbooks, The Dog Runs On and The Thumbelina Poems. Her poems have been published in Mom Egg Review, Whale Road Review, SWWIM, FERAL, Strange Horizons, and other journals. You can find her online at