Black Petals Issue #92, Summer, 2020

The Alkali Lake Monster

BP Artist's Page
Mars-Chris Friend
Misty Page-A Game of Chess
Sean M. Carey-Chilled Bones Under Lovely Skin
Roy Dorman-Death in the Round Room, Part IV
Lael Braday-Magical Perspective
Matt Spangler-Master Smasher
Lena Abou-Khalil-The Nowhere Man
Grace Sielinski-'Port
Gavin McGarvey-The Black Petals
Marc Dickerson-Theater is Dead
C. S. Harbold-The Whispering
Dean Patrick-Vincent's Warning
Doug Park-We Get Him Together
Joseph Hurtgen-Worlds to Conquer
Mickie Bolling-Burke-The Bringer of Darkness
Aaron Hicks-The Last Days
Cindy Rosmus-Out of Juice
Matthew Wilson-Endless Men's Hate
Michael Steven-Hell Rift
Sean Goulding-Hypnagogic
David C. Kopaska-Merkel-In the Land of Giants
Loris John Fazio-The Thing in the Woods
Loris John Fazio-The Beggar Knows
Richard Stevenson-Peg Leg
Richard Stevenson-The Alkali Lake Monster
Richard Stevenson-The Green Man

The Alkali Lake Monster


Richard Stevenson


Many cryptids stink.  What with

no mod cons or hot running water –

man’s greatest invention, my wife says –

they sweat, get decaying plant matter

all up in their fur or between scales…


And where the heck is a three-

hundred foot serpent cryptid gonna

find a back brush long enough

to scrub his neck, never mind get

the hard-to-reach spots?  Nowhere!


The other side of some antediluvian

time portal – maybe.  Our guy’s

got them all beat: his reek is lethal!

Don’t be hobnobbin’ in his ‘hood

without a gas mask, dude, or yer worm food!


That’s right!  He doesn’t have to fart:

yer gone if you get so much as a whiff,

a tiny puff…  .  A quiff would probably

settle as a mist and corrode yer hide.

You wouldn’t even get a chance to drown


before he hauled you off to his piscine

or reptilian parlour for dinner.  Let that thought

simmer in yer noggin before you start hangin’

fifty-gallon drum bobbers and cable in some

lame-brained scheme to catch the beast.


You ain’t even a feast for this

fearsome critter!  Just a little fritter,

a pot-sticker, a hand of fries.

He’d gas you and have you half

way down his long gullet lickety split!


Even so, he hasn’t shown himself

much in recent decades.  Maybe succumbed

to his own foul aroma or got a fish bone

stuck in his throat, choked, finally bit it.


Do we even have a decent guess what

he was before our bipedal kind started

floating big boats or snagged his kids

with six-pack plastic chokers or tiaras?


I hope he skedaddled back to the sea.

No point chasing herring up-steam

if he’s gonna run into our toxic kind.

Better to boot it back to the deep sea;

surface when there aren’t so many boats about –

and no one with a gas mask and cell phone!

Richard Stevenson recently retired from a 30-year teaching gig at Lethbridge College and is in the process of selling his house in Lethbridge and moving to Nanaimo, BC.  His most recent publications are Rock, Scissors, Paper: The Clifford Olson Murders (2016) and A Gaggle of Geese (2017).

Action Dachshund! and An Abominable Swamp Slob Named Bob are forthcoming.

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