Black Petals Issue #83 Spring, 2018

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Door #2-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Inmate's Asylum-Fiction by Mark Joseph Kevlock
Nature Verses Nurture-Fiction by Donna J. W. Munro
Strange Music Follows Her Everywhere-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Surviving Montezuma, Conclusion-Serialized Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Corpse Grinder-Poem by Alexis Child
El Cuero-Four Poems by Richard Stevenson

El Cuero


by Richard Stevenson


El Cuero, Hueke Hueke …

By any other name a monster cryptid

that hunts in Chile’s glacial Lake Lacar

high in the Andes beyond most prying eyes.


Not a plesiosaur pleased to see you.

Not a giant sturgeon. Not a serpent

or zeuglodon or giant eel or any

of Loch Ness Nellie’s or Ogopogo’s kin.


More like a cowhide Manta Ray

or Mala Mala turtle without the neck

and ugly head. El Cuero’s querulous

at the best of times. Vicious, aggressive.


Don’t wanna wash clothes in his waters.

Don’t wanna let an infant sleep nearby.

He’s claimed a baby, leapt out and engulfed

her tiny body, dragged her to the depths.


Ain’t no vegetarian algae scum sucker.

Cruises rivers between Chile and Argentina

lookin’ for meals on the hoof, slow fishes,

whatever stops to quaff from the shore.


Might be an ancient river stingray

(family Pota motrygonidae) partial

to human body parts. Stand well away

from shorelines when you Google him.


He’d as soon eat as greet you, son.

Washing laundry in the lake just gives him

a wet towelette to dab his lips

after he’s bitten off your head.


El Cuero. Remember the name

and refrain from hunting or fishing for it;

the only hero you’ll end up as

is a hero sandwich—without the bread.




La Llorona (Weeping Woman )


by Richard Stevenson


Luisa was her name,

a pretty peasant girl

who gave herself to

a wealthy aristocrat,

one Don Muņo Montez.


She gave Sr. Montez

three lovely children,

only to be jettisoned

when Sr. Montez chose

to wed a richer woman.


Or so the story goes.

Then, seeking revenge

for her abrupt abandonment,

Luisa drowned their children,

then joined them in icy waters.


Sr. Montez was so distraught

He shot himself, but even

as the name Luisa left

his penitent lips, Luisa was reborn

as Llorona, the weeping woman.


Condemned to repeat the past,

La Llorona appears in a sheer

nightgown at many a southwest shore,

weeping, searching for her dear ones,

and drowning any children who come near.


La Llorona weeps and Sr. Montez

covers his ears, but he cannot

help but hear. And each time she wails,

a fresh bullet rips through his brain,

his children’s faces circle a drain.


Llorona/ Luisa what is to become of you?

You cannot take all the world’s children

to a watery grave. Your heavy heart

has become a floating speck you cannot

flush away. A tear-sodden tissue…

La Llorona, the last any child sees of you

is not a peasant girl’s woebegone face,

but a hideous, smirking bat’s face

when you part the curtains of your hair

before the first wave of water breaks.


La Llorona, weeping banshee woman,

the devil refuses your entry into Hades,

and St. Peter won’t stamp your passport

to heaven either. You’re doomed to prowl

shoreline after shoreline, calling for your kids.


What you did cannot be forgiven;

what you continue to do,

won’t buy foot passage across the River Styx.

Shiver, draw your clammy nightgown close;

draw your three drowned children closer. 






by Richard Stevenson



Penelope was just a middle class gal

out on a rural jaunt with her husband

when they got caught in a snowstorm,

lost control of their car, and left the road.


She woke up in a ditch with her husband’s

head in her lap. Totally lost it, of course,

then got lost in the woods looking for a way

back to suburbia, three squares, and a home.


Ate fungi, berries, and insects to stay alive,

but when a blizzard whipped up the odds

against her, she had to find warmer shelter than

what the trees and a few blankets had provided.


Found what she thought was an empty oil drum,

cocooned herself inside, a mummy in a barrel.

Alas, traces of mutagenic toxins seeped into her

body and her brain, and she not only went insane,


but over the months, eventually, years, began

to mutate into a horrid beast and feast on

anything that crossed her path, including hikers,

backwoods folk, small mammals she could trap.


Haggard now, with limp hair and outsized incisors,

she wandered deeper and deeper into the woods,

deeper and deeper into the madness that was

consuming her; grew hair like some lycanthrope.


She grew lithe and lean and muscular

without a mate to brave the backwoods with.

Some say she became a hermaphrodite,

more masculine and uptight. Killed everything in sight.


Too many people disappeared. Victims of

her cannibalistic, lycanthropic rage.

A huntress through and through, she became

a stealthy wayward creature of gargantuan appetites.


Eventually, civilization came to her in the form

of an armed posse, boxed her into a canyon

with her back against a wall. Still, she managed

to scoot up that sheer rock wall and disappear!


People still die on camping trips into the woods,

and Penelope still mutates into a monstrous

hellion with sharper teeth and sharper claws.

Quite gone now, she’s completely left the human fold.


Still, her wanderlust and appetites have

kept her alive. An old hag now, no doubt,

she’s probably decked out a cave, lost her

language along with her desire for kitchen aides.


Penelope, Penelope, what’s it like to get up

and hunt and gather all day, forget Safeway

and rapid transit? Do you speak bird or bear?

With all that hair, and no place to buy underwear,


What’s it like to be a feral nudist

in the tulies? Do you bathe regularly in lakes

and streams? Do you still dream of human beings

and long to follow their scent back into the burbs?


Penelope, have you found some hairy ‘squatch

to sire a brood with? Is he good to you?

Gotta like not havin’ to work all day for a pay cheque

and three squares. How does it feel to live off the grid?


Do yer kids cavort and play at bein’ vegetarian?

At least they’re not Rotarians. Do they know

how to hunt and how to make clothes or are they

hairy enough to get by with a cave and no mod cons?


Penelope, sometimes I wish I found a can

of mutagens and could transform myself into

some new species of hominid. If you found love,

isn’t it enough? People die for less; they really do.




Pope Lick Monster


by Richard Stevenson



Trip trap trip trap, indeed!

It wasn’t a nasty troll

with flared nostrils and long nose

sniffin’ the three Billy Goats Gruff

passing over his rickety bridge

to get fat on grass on the other side.

It was me! Part goat, part sheep, part man,

hidin’ under the Pope Lick trestle.


I was the biggest Billy Goat Gruff

and I wasn’t in any mood for mutton

or gamey goat meat. No siree!

Not after the way the travellin’

circus promoters and MCs treated me!

I was a caged Goatman freak,

but I escaped when the circus train

derailed leaving Kentucky. Revenge

was and remains my motive, see!


You come lookin’ for some crazed

escapee with an axe, famed

for hacking humans to pieces,

but that ain’t me either! I ain’t

no serial killer on a mission to

dispatch homo sapiens or goats

and I’m sure as heck not going

to bellow Who goes there? every time

one of you drunken fools comes

clomping over Pope Lick lookin’ for me!


No, I’ve got better ways to lure

your meddling morons to their doom.

I don’t just mimic your speech—

I’m part human, after all,

but I can mimic birds and screech your name

like any ol’ hoot owl—louder too!

Your drunken teens step out on the trestle—

don’t even notice the train coming

after I’ve mimicked it three times.

Wham! Splat! Cattle catcher creams ‘em,

if they don’t look up and jump first.


It’s a long drop either way. Oh yeah!

Pope Lick Monster, they call me,

but it’s humans with guns and crossbows

that provoke me. Why don’t you all

just f-f-f-fade away, leave me

to root for roots and berries? I’m

the guy that needs to munch grass to get fat.

Trip trap trip trap. You think I’ve got horns

to impale your sorry lot? Heck, I

don’t have hooves to crush the broken

glass from all your broken bottles, ya goofs! 


Richard Stevenson,, of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada , wrote BP #83’s poems, “El Cuero,” “La Llorona,” “Penelope,” and “Pope Lick Monster” (+ BP #82’s poems, “Killer Clowns,” “Queensland Tiger,” “The Turtle Lake Monster,” and “Vermont Pig Man”; BP #80’s poems, “Bondegezu…”, “Donkey Woman,” “Napes,” and “The Yeren’s Complaint”; BP #76’s poems, “Honey Island Swamp Monster,” “Skin Walker,” and “Ucu.”) From a series called Cryptid Shindig, these collected poems concern cryptid encounters, ET lore, or unexplained phenomena; others have appeared in three published volumes in the series: Why Were All the Werewolves Men? (Thistledown Press, 1994), Nothing Definite Yeti (Ekstasis Editions, 1999), Take Me to Your Leader! (Bayeux Arts Inc., 2003), and in a New & Selected volume called Bigfoot Boogie. Retired from a thirty-year gig teaching English and Creative Writing at Lethbridge College, the poet has published thirty books in that time. His most-recently published books are haikai poetry collections: Fruit Wedge Moon (Hidden Brook Press, 2015), The Heiligen Effect (Ekstasis Editions, 2015), Rock, Scissors, Paper: The Clifford Olson Murders (a long poem from Dreaming Big Publications, 2017) and A Gaggle of Geese (haiku, senryu, tanka, kyoka, zappai, and haikai sequences from Alba Publishing in the U.K.). Other poems from the cryptid critter series have appeared in Aphelion, The Literary Hatchet, On Spec, Liquid Imagination Online, etc. (25+ mags so far) and in 3 previously published collections: Why Were All The Werewolves Men? (1994). Nothing Definite Yeti (1999), and Take Me to Your Leader! (2003).

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