Katsu Ika Odori-Don
I know what animates this bunch of tentacles:it’s just the salt in the soy filling the blanks in the dead nerves.I tell myself this, but as the GIF keeps loopingthrough the same few frames, the same pattern of flicks & wiggles,it’s difficult to not imagine necromancy, or worse,the dumb protest of a lump of brain-stem.At any moment I could stop this wonky, eight-limbed Charleston,not by eating it but by closing the tab. I tell myself this.Is it empathy that’s stopping me, a sense of dutyto bear witness & attend to the whims of the dead,no matter how random? Not quite. Maybe it’s envyor aspiration that keeps me watching. But do I envythe hand that pours the sauce & turns this stump of a squidinto its own erratic puppet, or aspire to be as pliableas the clump of tissue that receives its grace?If, as the physician says, the soul weighs twenty-one grams,it seems important that we find a wayto figure out how much of this is sodium& therefore how much of us is lost in a fit of crying,or passed back & forth throughout a night of sex.It will take perhaps a minute for the last shuddersto peter out & the tentacles to lie still again.I want to know is it best to wait before you startthe process of dismantling the legs with your chopsticks& testing each one for its flavour; or is the reciprocityof your tongue’s movements part of the pleasure of the dish?When the time comes, feel free to keep a limb of mine& drench it with soy if you feel lonely.
“Katsu Ika Odori-Don” from SOME INTEGRITY: by Padraig Regan.
Published by Carcanet Press in January 2022.
Copyright © 2022 by Padraig Regan.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by kind permission of Carcanet Press, Manchester, UK.
Padraig Regan’s debut collection Some Integrity was published by Carcanet in 2022, and has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. They are the author of two poetry pamphlets: Delicious (Lifeboat, 2016) and Who Seemed Alive & Altogether Real (Emma Press, 2017). In 2015, they were a recipient of an Eric Gregory Award, and in 2020 they were awarded the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary Prize. They hold a PhD on creative-critical and hybridised writing practices in medieval texts and the work of Anne Carson from the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, where they were a Ciaran Carson Writing and the City Fellow in 2021.
"The poems achieve a thrilling tension... The author travels from specific, almost mundane, details to expansive ones, encompassing sensations seamlessly... In these lyric poems, so wonderfully held in the specificity of place, an engrossing self-consciousness propels us forward to perceive Regan's art and meaning-making."
— Alycia Pirmohamed, The Poetry Review
"This scintillating debut is Whitmanesque in its freewheeling explorations of subjects ranging from mushrooms to Rembrandt to the landscapes of Ireland... there is a deft precision to Regan's work that is captivating. To read Some Integrity is to come away convinced that each poem is 'a space... shaped to hold / the desire [the poet has] nowhere else / to put but here.'"
— Mary Jean Chan, The Guardian
"A fascinating new debut collection."
— Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph
"a fresh and vital work...This is poetry which seeks to redefine the Irish lyric through the prism of a queer sensibility. Some Integrity stands on its own two feet as a playful, original and philosophically complex debut, as joyful as it is thought-provoking."
— James Conor Patterson, Business Post Dublin