Richard Stevenson

The February Editor's Pick Poet is Richard Stevenson

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Och, Dhuu! It was the Gwrach y Rhibyn
and not a woman that came knocking
at my window last night. Screamin’ banshee
she was—gaunt, chalk-faced, black-toothed,
bat-winged hag bangin’ and callin’ my name
in a gravelly, grating, drawn-out taunt,
“Da-a-a-vy  De-ei-o-o-o-ba-a-a-ach!”

Be thankful you Canadians have a big-eyed
hootin’ owl to bring the sombre uniformed
knock-on-the-door, hat-in-hand news
from nature. This bitch ain’t natural at all!
Her decaying fangs look like pitched grave stones
around the vacant plot that is her mouth,
arms and legs wizened, body cadaverously thin.

I’d say she’s more spectral than skeletal,
but -damn!—I wasn’t undoin’ the sash
and invitin’ her in for tea, a closer look-see.
I got up when she dropped down a floor
and started bangin’ on Hank’s window,
then flew over to the parsonage. Saw her
fly past opened front doors. Saw her no more.

Next day, the parson’s bit the big one.
Gwrach y Rhibyn’s long gone, though
no one claim,s to seen her come or go.
I tell ya, she’s a demon. Real as cancer
and not the lavender granny you wanna
be hangin’ onto on the dance floor
when your dance card number comes around.

Gwrach y Rhibyn, hair dishevelled,
eyes obsidian black, sunken
above high-boned cheeks, gums receding…
Needle-like teeth. Don’t wanna meet her
out on the heath or in a library book.
She plays for keeps; you won’t be settin’ up
no second dinner date. Shutter your windows now!

The Gwrach y Rhibyn’s got slender female hands,
but those are talons not fingernails she’s sportin’.
Don’t wanna let her get her hands on you,
skinny and cadaverous though she be.  She’s a shape shifter,
mister; she’s not gonna present herself as a hag
when you first lay eyes on her. She’s gonna be
the Dance Hall Queen, most buxom babe you’ve ever seen.

Don’t fall into the pools of her eyes; you’ll dissolve.
She’s the original acid queen, believe me!
Supernatural vixen.  Don’t know what she’s fixin’
to do with yer sorry hide. Gwrach y Rhibyn—
bitchin’ bodacious badass supreme in her salad days;
cleans up well even when she shape shifts still.
Och dhuu, Don’t I know the deep, dark tune she sings.


Banghest, Black Chuck, Dip, Galigi, Gythash
large, black spectral hound with red eyes
Famous world-wide for its monstrous size,
ability to re- and de-materialize.

Doan wanna meet his slavering jaws
on some lonely road at night.
His eyes might as well be laser beams:
they bore a hole right through you.

You’re transfixed, hypnotized—
hell, mounted on a dinner plate moon.
Eftsoons! A goner, guy. Doggy chew toy,
Devil’s play thing, mangled and mauled.

Stay away from graveyards at night.
The remains of the dogs’ masters’
lay under the loam yer bouncin’ on.
Tread lightly. Forget the big stick.

Phantoms don’t play fetch, Gus.
Don’t discuss much either.
Best beat a hasty retreat, Ed,
before he makes a meal of you.

Yer tangy to a phantom, Fred,
if a tad dry. Don’t want a Shuck
slobbering over yer knobby noggin.
Don’t want his fangs in yer neck.

Yer such a pop tart to a Shuck.
Easy to shuck and succulent
on the hoof or frozen in fear.
Don’t need no nuker neither, Ned.

Run, run, run, call Papa with the gun.
Even if he does, yer done, son. Wet dog food –
the maple bacon kind. Yum, yum, yum.
Snug in the Shuck’s rumbly tum tum.

If not in the flesh, then in your dreams
as it slavers, slavers after yer hams.
Not the dog you wanna toss a ball to.
Not one to take a newspaper to the snout.

Don’t meet his gaze. He’ll enter through your eyes.
Bear spray ain’t gonna dissuade him either,
And will seriously tick him off.  Go soft.
Surrender your gaze and your belly—

just the way the You-Tube video shows.
Yer the pup. Give it up! Surrender
or he’s got ya by the fenders, Jay.
Yer probably stayin’ for lunch anyway.


Whoa! T-T-T-Titanoboa?!
Whatchew doin’ hangin’ in this bog?
Yer ‘spose to be extinct, dawg!

Or are you the fabled Sucuruju Gigante
only more giganté? Whew! Yer eye—
I thought it was a signal light!

One’s burnt out; the other is the size
of a dinner plate! You’ve got
a few extra condas than an anaconda—

What? A hundred feet of grabya coils
as big around as a cement culvert pipe?
‘Scuse me, but I wouldn’t floss yer teeth!

Squeeze me and all you’ll get is a little toothpaste —
nothin’ to sate a serpentine appetite—
a flagon of red—a wet splash and a plash, really.

I’m just a taste. Why don’t I just make haste?
Get a selfie with you and vamoose
before my goose is cooked? Am-scray outta here?

Whaddaya say, dawg? You wanna get
that peccary before he gets too fonda
that anaconda over there. Lasso the peccary, dude!

Not me! I’ve got a wife and kids to feed
on a paltry sum. Less than I’ve got to mount a posse
to hunt you down anytime soon. How about you go, I go?

Titanoboa, yer the boa with the most.
No zoo could afford to feed ya! Why would my boys
wanna mess witchew, let alone an anaconda too?

Betcha you could rear up and snag
that helicopter before the pilot could land it.
Now there’s metal you could sink yer teeth in!

Richard Stevenson has recently retired from a thirty-year teaching gig at Lethbridge College and published thirty books in that time, most recently, two collections of haikai poetry: Fruit Wedge Moon (Hidden Brook Press, 2015) and The Heiligen Effect (Ekstasis Editions, 2015). Since retirement, Rock, Scissors, Paper: The Clifford Olson Murders, a long poem sequence, has just been released from Dreaming Big Publications in the US, and A Gaggle of Geese, haikai poems and sequences, has just been released from Alba Publications in the UK.