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Labaleen and the Whaler

Michael Rothery

There she hangs aloft! Twisted devil-horns 

upon a head of green, translucent skin.

See those razor teeth! With two curved fangs that, 

as the maw snaps shut, clamp hard against her

hungry, drooling chin.

Her leering, longboat grin, aloof upon

a writhing neck of shining copper scales 

that blossom splendid on her righteous breast, 

while rows of sea-green thorns adorn her back,

and taper down her tail.

Her ever-flicking tail that quickens feline-like

to balance her in hovering flight on great

reptilian wings; flogging tireless, back and forth,

back and forth, while baleful, burning eyes gaze 

down upon the mates.

Those cowed shipmates, now trembling

beneath her cruel, malevolent sight

that sweeps the deck, as if selecting who

among those whalers to consume to sate

her vengeful appetite.

At once, with spite unbound she folds her wings,

extends her claws, and drops toward

the scattering crew; men who’ve slain a thousand 

whales and have until this dreadful day survived

the worst of Neptune’s Horde.

Then at the last she spreads those flighty limbs 

and swooping over-deck, scoops high

a harpoon-man in one prehensile claw,

and steals away her prize; triumphant roar

consumes the whaler’s mournful cry.

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