Amanda Rybin Koob

The Jackalope

The hare with woody tumors protruding from his jaw 
reminds me of the tree on our street growing fungus, 

a florid and blooming brown that looks fun enough to eat. 
Anyone could use a paring knife, slice a sliver so thin 

that the rot would dissolve to pink on the tongue. Is this 
what tumors taste like? We eat though we are afraid. So many

of our inventions start with disease, like the jackalope cursed
by his horns, sharp weapons preventing the slickened 

ease of sex. The god-damned rabbits are breeding again. 
The lightning hit our sticky tree again
. Sex only possible 

during the storms, we think, when by the grace of God 
their antlers get out of the way. Our portmanteaus 

delight us but they are often incorrect—the jackrabbit 
is not a rabbit and the American antelope is a pronghorn. 

So Jack mimics our foolery, echoing Mairzy Doats to 
loved ones at dusk. The settlers heard them, too, those rabbits

singing tenor, scaring the cowboys and their hateful beans
half to death. Everything goes way back. Wyoming’s Douglas

Herrick learned taxidermy as a teenager, 1932. He ordered
precision tools and chemicals by mail; a prolific hunter,

he tossed a carcass inside where it landed fortuitously 
atop some antlers. This first jackalope sold for ten dollars 

to Mr. Roy Ball, who displayed it prominently in his Douglas, 
Wyoming hotel. A Place to Eat and Sleep. A place

to shit and sex. The head was stolen in 1977, but the animal 
was born to the hysteria of zoo forever—a quarter to push

back the curtain, to fog the glass with your nose-tipped 
breath. We pay for our frivolity. You, too, can hunt the jackalope—

buy a license for Official Jackalope Season, June 31st 
from midnight until two AM. The hunter must have an IQ greater 

than 50 but not over 72. Or you could buy the jackalope’s 
milk straight from the corner store and gulp deeply, 

all the while doubting its origin, all the while imagining 
what a jackalope’s nipples might look like and how

you could really get at them. The tumored hare, unable 
to move his overgrown mouth, starves to death eventually.

The Fresno Alien

The thing walked straight through a man’s fenced
backyard. See it there? At 12:46:58. His name was José.
The man, I mean. The thing had the look of a wishbone or
an armless chromosome. If you’re a baby, it’s like
mommy’s fingers up the elbow for a tickle. You know? It
was just on the news—the Fifth Anniversary of the Fresno
Alien. Some friends described it as a pair of walking pants,
but why would José do that—make a puppet from a pair of
pants? There’s no string in the video, no face in the crotch.
It’s stilt-walkers with sheets or a crafty heron on a netted
pond. It was in his backyard and now it’s never not-there.
Anybody would love to kill the whole thing—its long legs
of Cottonelle, so satisfying to tear. Remember those kids
who ripped our scarecrow down to stalks and left me to
clean it up? Or the fantasy I’ve never told anyone—
snipping a long fish fin with my sewing shears to see if it’ll
bleed. But in the ocean, impossibly. I’m swirling the
Skittles round my mouth. I’m sucking them pale. I’m trying
not to remember or maybe never to know. Some people
ignore the news, but it’s plain—the way the screen door
caught my clog yesterday—the surprise of possibility at its
most mundane. Suddenly, you’re barefoot. José’s life,
ruined. As if he wanted fame from the creepy sock man. He
wished he’d never installed the surveillance cam. The
whole thing too cruel and close-up, like knowing the dog
always pees against the branch, tiny thorns scraping his
Rover’s Rod. He has a scab that’ll never go away. The first
time my friend’s finger slipped while wiping he told me
about it later. That’ll never go away. Maybe we shouldn’t
confess: ignore the evidence. Like the Fresno Alien and its
off-balance gait—do I blame José? I watch the video every
day and pretend it was my yard, my nightcrawler, my mate
—coyly erotic and completely free—cocktail cherries
dangling from the tip of me.

Amanda Rybin Koob

Amanda Rybin Koob is a writer and librarian living in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She is currently a fellow at the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program.