The Space Cadet Science Fiction Review, Spring 2022 (issue #1)

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Pg. 39

Poetry by Richard Stevenson

Mantis Man

Beside the Musconetcong River
near Hackettstown, New Jersey,
a seven-foot Praying Mantis stood!

I rubbed my eyes, gave my head
a shake – but, no I wasn’t
hallucinating! I had to get closer.

The thing could easily have picked
me up and made a meal of me,
but I was too amazed to think of that.

As it turned out, it wouldn’t let me
get too close. Booked it into the woods
almost as soon at it caught sight of me.

Other sightings confirmed my suspicions:
It’s either a herbivore or doesn’t
particularly like the taste of human meat.

But what could it be? Not a giant insect!?
Unless the military has some monstrous
growth hormone we don’t know about.

Maybe they created it from scratch
in some clandestine lab or other
and could no longer afford to feed it.

And what would it eat anyway –
giant bugs? How could they keep up
with its gargantuan appetite, making those?

Better to see how it fared on its own
with fresh-running river water and
a forest full of sizable mammals and trees.

And unless it isn’t a mantis – just looks
for all the world like one. Could it be
some ET creature out on a walkabout?

I’ve read of alien abductees that claim
to have seen such creatures aboard
alien craft. An intelligent mantis look-alike?

Or maybe some endangered species from
a home planet not unlike the earth the ETs
thought to re-locate? Maybe the government

knows about it. Maybe they’re in cahoots
with the ETs: offer safe harbour to alien species
in exchange for alien war technologies –

just so we can get a jump on our own kind.
Now there’s a devil’s bargain: Mantis Man
for ray guns. So we can blow ourselves to smithereens.