Friday, June 12, 2009

8 Arms of Color

By James Caroline

his tank is too small.

The octopus, its limbs
examples
of a flexible arm with unlimited degrees of freedom-
begins with a wave, an extension and roll,
propagation of a bend from
the base of the arm to the tip.

there is no place unsuitable for reaching.

Kinematics (position and velocity) of extension;
the bend moves in a single linear plane
connecting the center of the animal’s body
with it’s desired point of touch.

brace yourself when reaching for the immovable.

The reversal potential of the energy used for movement
-10mV.

2 arms, when extended together in the same behavioral context,
will demonstrate identical velocity profiles.

this is our muscle key; where
we reached together—where a hand was extended
and found another reaching.

Color change is initiated by the eyes.
For camouflage, 3 bags containing different colors in the skin
are adjusted individually until the background color is matched.
Coloration also reflects mood:
white for fear, red for anger, brown for, currently, well adjusted.

* * * *

the animal shoots melanin ink at threats,
finds food in hard bodied bottom feeders,
ignores their claws.

They learn by trial-and-error experience.
They learn from sight by comparing edges, orientations, shapes.
They learn by touch.
Tactile information is stored in a different area of the brain than visual.

our fights always end with a kiss

lids, locks, the building of walls,
all learned and mastered
by venomous, soft bodied invertebrates,
solitary magicians
in the deep.
They do not swim the surface.

We each pushed a hand to the glass,
awestruck by the curling of soft limbs and suckers,
our free hands clasped,
4 legs holding us up,
like magic
in our own deep water
with pressure,
and colors that change
as we learn of holding.

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