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1. Shards of the engraved roc egg
sent to Elizabeth I by a devoted suitor
from the deserts of Arabia, displayed with
eyewitness accounts of the Virgin Queen
on the back of the great bird
over Loch Ness,
hunting the monster.

2. A perfect emerald the size and shape
of a whale, left high and dry
when the flooded Amazon receded
in the winter of 1797.

3. A rat king from Siberia, gift
of the Czar, twelve tails tangled,
twelve bodies thin as cardboard
snap-frozen in the blizzards
called down by Baba Yaga
when Napoleon marched on Moscow.

4. The preserved remains of a bronze giant
dredged from an undisclosed location
off the coast of Crete. A hand-lettered sign
taped to the explanatory text explains,
in red, why the Greek government
needs the metal marvel repatriated,
threatens Britain with the wrath of Zeus.

5. A life-sized three-headed dragon
based on fossilized bones
from hip, skulls, and tail
and a patch of wing membrane
still iridescent despite the Deluge.
All three heads breathe fire every hour.

6. A giant beanstalk extending
from the sub-sub-basement
up through the fifth-floor cupola.
No one has climbed it past the roof
since the Curator of Plants disappeared
a hundred years ago.

7. A baby unicorn
complete with candy-cane striped horn,
employing the most careful taxidermy
of the late 19th century.

8. A daguerreotype of the yeti matriarch
who led an Imperial French expedition
to safety across nine wide crevasses.
The notice claims that she died blissful
of a surfeit of cheese.

9. The frogshark of doom
whose squamous emanations
(even as she floats in her formaldehyde tank)
send random visitors into eldritch visions
of the Armageddon of the Elder Gods.
No Curators of Amphibians
have retained their sanity
for more than a year.

10. Five fragments
of the green-cheese meteorite
thought to have caused the death
of most of the dinosaurs.

11. Down in the stacks, unseen
by day-visitors, old Nessie’s head
mounted on a gold-crowned shield,
beside live video of her descendants
frolicking in the royal loch.



Jenny’s poems and stories have appeared in august Australian and international literary journals and anthologies, as well as Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Cosmos magazine, and multiple Rhysling anthologies. Her latest collection from Pitt Street Poetry is The Alpaca CantosEagle Books published her ghostly middle-grade adventure The Girl in the Mirror in October 2019. She is jennyblackford on Facebook and @dutiesofacat on Twitter. www.jennyblackford.com
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10 Jan 2022

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