David Jalajel


     “Human interests cannot be the be-all and end-all of an ecopoem.”
     - John Shoptaw  


Your classic kleptoparasite. Packs in
fishes, berries, honey, some meat — 

even fibre. It’s a dumbshow bear, but dire. 
I was itching to take mine for a spin. 

Never crafted the saddle…
So… that’s why I named it Running Bear. 

Yeah, it’s made a few last stands 
on its haunches for a while. And although 

that doesn’t seem to be an attack (yet), 
it dishes out healthy doses of damage. So…

when torpor reduces it to a perma-run, 
jump in with your hefty club… and smash it.


Haven’t they stated any 
intention concerning it?

Not yet, that I know of,
but of course, you’ll get 

something: a woolly rhino 
wielding a 7-foot horn...

an armoured-looking beast…
Look, I’ll have to find out. 

It might move in a herd, 
cause earthquakes? — maybe 

dust storms? Some tribe could
make a trophy of its horn.


Cement doesn’t get replenished, so 
make sure to strip all the wood

and coerce those beavers to rebuild.
Demolish their dam, break it. 

Make them scramble for cement, 
mushrooms, pearls, rare flowers, 

and tons and tons of wood. 
But plundering dams enrages 

wild beavers, and your tame ones 
never build dams. Better make sure 

you’re ready to screw with them, or
they’ll plaster you into their walls.


Here to tame a chocolate… knuckle-horse?
…gorilla? …bear? …zebra? Maybe some

kinship with ground sloths? Or with pandas? 
It throws shit like a monkey. Straight 

at your head. And it’s as territorial 
as a pissing cat. Playtime? No. That means 

slogging balls of snow or mud. So — a mobile 
artillery? catapult? long-range assault? Depends.

Fuel it with beer and harness it up. You’ll need
to throw on camouflage to administer the first pint. 

Then it’s draughts on schedule. Tell me — what’s it
do in the wild? Beer trees no one’s talking about?


The time for healing is at hand. Yes,
it is our healer. Its feeding is our manna.

Go pile the troughs with roasted meat.
Keep its stomach forever full.

Here’s the hippo-whale, cabbage-hemmed,
in the pig’s own image. And it must EAT.

Yield up to it your newborn babes. And banish
fear. Plague or famine, they will survive —

so long as IT stays fed. But you’ll need
to keep constant vigil. For you must know: 

when it senses any injured beasts, it will
heal them, every one, until it starves to death.


Let us not to the marriage of
spinosaurus and moschops 

(or was that a lystrosaurus?)
admit impediments. Love is

an air cooler: a mobile, meat-
powered A/C unit, an integrated

solution. And one that bites! 

To obtain: clear the swamp
of stray animals and wait.

Kills as efficiently as it cools.
(Fits through a standard door.)


Its primary diagnostic characteristic
is that it never needs a saddle.

Secure and mate a good breeding pair. 
(The imprinting bonuses are amazing.) 

I once proudly possessed a stud 
boasting a black body and a dark 

gingery mane. I bred it with my 
white-coated, dark-ginger-pawed bitch. 

She whelped me 3 litters of solid 
black pups, always 2 boys and a bitchlet.

Never dive into the water to escape
a wolf. It swims as fast as it runs.


Here’s a tip for you hermits 
hiding out in the forest. 

Are you crouching behind 
large rocks for cover? Well… 

if you park your armadillo 
by a rock, or skim it 

over the rock, it’ll auto-attack 
and pulverise your hermitage. 

(At least you won’t be ambushed 
by a hidden sabre-tooth.)

And as for escaping danger, 
it’s howling fun to roll with it.


Equus power. Even if fully grown,
it’s not part of its killing process.

A “swift equus” or “swift unicorn”
merely hints at a higher elusiveness.

Swift status. A million equus power 
is utterly worthless until we know. 

A very loyal ruminant to its owner;
we need a ranch for retired horses.

Stripes make it an African variant.
Only 1 unicorn exists at any time.

It doesn’t mean much of anything
if equus power remains a mystery.


This sure ain’t no knuckle walker.
You see how it zooms those zip lines?

And clocks a “Mission Impossible”
on its very own Planet of the Apes.

Crouch low. It’ll think you’re 
a monkey. And guess who’s the alpha?
You’ll have to, in fact, lasso the beast.
This escape clause is a bang-on elevator,

and it wields a live microraptor 
in a murderously good javelin throw.

And it looks just like a human. But 
it’s a bit extra hairy. But it hates us.


It’s deadly. It’s feral. It comes in packs. 
But you can pet one with your bare hands.

The easiest way to calm it down again 
is to let it kill and eat your little dodo.

Then sneak up behind it, follow it around, 
and pet it while its parents aren’t looking.

Do you want to imprint the alpha on you?
Murder its entire pack, then pet it nicely.

(If they pack attack, fight on. Whenever 
you kill a few, the rest’ll always turn tail.)

Crouch down and keep your distance till 
it’s eager to settle down. Your family pet.


No, this little cinnamon roll is not 
an accessory. It’s an ultralight backpack.

The dodo of scorched earth, a cute rat,
super mini kangaroo, and weatherTHING. 

(Barking at the sky means a sandstorm’s 
rolling. A sniffing sound means rain.)

They’re like pringles  — you can’t have 
just one. They’re cheap as chips too.

(Fast tail wagging means a lightning 
storm. Digging down, a heatwave.)

They can smell fear. They can shred you.
Paint one yellow and name it Pikachu.


How does one instrumentalise the lystrosaurus?
Keep petting it? Keep receiving the boost?

Its re-use time is somewhat randomised —
5-minute serial petting is impractical, 

and petting has zero impact on egg production.
Set it to wander; find it a significant other?

Rendering it unconscious is a tiresome task,
but once tamed, what a loyal pet you have.

Barely 2 feet long, ground zero on the food chain,
and no help if you’re away from home.

Still, it’s a solid poison-proof herbivore. 
Not at all furry — but so cuddly, and so cute.


People’d have you think
otter makes a better

weight loss aid. I’d say
mammoth’s a worthy competitor.

(But an otter/mammoth
hybrid would be great.)

Encounter them massing
at the otter ponds 

where sure, they’ll stampede 
(and hose you down to size) —

But mammoth fat? Don’t cook it. 
Just eat it


What can I say? There’s something 
deeply gratifying in riding a moose. 

Females will outrun most predators. 
(They more than make up for their passivity

by being supremely fast.) Males, 
they’ll just about attack anything

with their horns. So go ahead. Take on 
the dragon. Wail on that wyrm 

with its Irish antlers. Bear down
hard on its tail till you’re locked in. 

Bust out the big guns for the finisher. 
Don’t let that dragon get unlocked.


A donkey’s balmy head
on a gorilla’s body —

a giant, roly koala
(who wishes to tear 

your head from off
your scrawny neck) —

a vulnerable teddy,
most of the time — 

but give it a taste
of 1 little bug… 

and it’s the driving force.
Insecticidal maniac.


Here’s 4 steps to ruling the sea... 1: 
Tame a monkey. 2: Build a boat. 3: 

Put a cloth hat on said monkey. 4: 
Sail the seas with your bootleg friend. 

Cheers, mate, you’re now a pirate!
And it’ll pick locks for you, break 

and enter for you, ambush, capture, 
kill, tame, and gather for you. Throw it 

through an open porthole; it’ll 
burst open their doors from the inside. 

Hand it a sheaf of arrows. It might
just fling them along with its shit.


Featuring your bowleggèd goods-getter. 
And how it poops out the eggs. I mean, 

right in my house? Seriously, pen it up.
It’s lethargic and cowardly, but yet… 

so friendly, so strong, and so brainless. 
And what an eclectic nibbler: flowers 

and honey, leech blood and sap, polymers 
and mushrooms, meat and fish… It’ll 

randomly beg you for a single food. Just shove 
its wish into its last open gob slot. But 

each time you indulge its need, its desires 
change. I find employing moschops a pain.


The ultimate guard dogs 
are these bats.

They also make solid 
sacrificial lambs.

Either way, 
a basic mammal. 

Cladistically, they’re bugs, 
so insect repellent 

is in order.
This thing’s a rabid rat. 

Couldn’t we just 
tame them into extinction?


“Hail! The mighty, massive 
(really, who named it ‘Penis 

Horse’?) and its perennial power.” 
(Penis giraffe is more like it.) 

Do it — erect a platform 
on its back. Then load 

this unhorned rhino 
with your catapult. Or bolt 

down a cast iron cannon. 
(Mine’s got itself a pair 

of working rocket turrets.) 
Mount it with a minigun.


A must-have accessory
for your dung beetle.

Force-feed it berries 
for everlasting shit.

(Warning: excessive 
feeding can result

in planteration.) 
For premium-grade 

organic compost, 
look no further:

than you’ll ever need.


The jauntiest mode of locomotion — 
its steerable, thrusts like hell, fast as hell,

and holds its own in a scrap. (But pack 
yourself a strong pump-action shotgun 

for those tricky wombat situations.) 
Its pouch provides insulation against 

a heatwave or sandstorm (especially when 
you’ve lost your tent). Boost it with 200+ speed. 

It’s crazy fun. What could be better 
than a roo hopping you from tree 

to tree? Snuggle down into its roomy pouch 
and the outback is your oyster.


A land mine… so a hidden 
treasure chest. You’ll starve it 

if you leave it buried. 
(Mine died beneath my door.)

It’s sort of like those drop bears 
in Australia, except 

it attacks you from below. 
Like, literally the Viet Cong... 

No, seriously — it’ll f*** 
you up. So cute, so cuddly,

and ferocious. (It’s like 
almost surviving a wolf.)


It’s the phenotypic Easter bunny. Takes
your herbivore and carnivore traits treats!

And a bright holiday costume. (Though 
you’d have to be a dodo (or a roo!) 

to wear it. Rainbow eggs are the real deal.
Yeah, their livid colours spread true joy.

Eggshell hat… marshmallow hat… new
chocolate dodo hat — and rabbit ears!

Put bunny eggs straight into the cooking pot.
(Rabbits are such notorious egg robbers.)

A tragedy it can never be tamed — 
goes out in the world, brazenly painted.


So, when it looks at you with those
cute bright eyes, don’t be fooled. 

That isn’t love. All it can see in you, 
all that it needs from you, is food.

Pack this cat along with a mammoth,
and you’re halfway to the Ice Age.

A low-cost, high-reward carnivore… 
Shere Khan? (No, Sylvester.) Diego? 

(No, Garfield.) Black Panther? (Betty Boop.)
O, just chase it down and tranquilise it.

It’ll be your knight in shining black fur
(and give you such adorable kittens).


Who needs a kangaroo? 
A wolf or a sabrecat?

Your pet kitty bounds up 
trees like a ninja.

Take your ol’ bounder 
down the rabbit hole.

Don’t venture the redwoods 
alone. Look up. 

They’re in the trees. 
Heavy, laden tiger trees.

It’s official: Redwoods 
are now no-fly zones.

Woolly Rhinoceros

See, the safest way to farm 
its horn is to barrel 

down on its head 
with a pterosaur. 

(That’s to avoid 
an anal fissure from 

the 7-foot horn.) 
Granted, it’s turn radius 

is poor, but it slowly 
builds momentum 

till its speed meter’s maxed. 
Don’t show it your back.

David Jalajel is the author of Moon Ghazals (Beard of Bees Press, 2009), Cthulhu on Lesbos (Ahadada Books, 2011), a chapbook in Dan Waber’s This is Visual Poetry series (2013) and Rhyme & Refrain (University of the Western Cape, 2017). His work has appeared in a number of online and print journals, including Otoliths, Shampoo, experiential-experimental-literature, Recursive Angel, The New Post-Literate, Gulf Coast, Anti-, Lynx, Mizna, and Eclectica.
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