“Live Feed” by K.M. Praschak

Darby’s zoo ship lacks
the corporate funding
and publicity machines
of its planetary rivals.

Traveling along routes
to the less settled colonies,
the trio of curators must haggle
for sturdy curiosities and volunteers.

One wide-leafed plant sings
like a multilingual drunken chorus.
An obliging simian conducts
with her hoard of fallen branches.

To keep funds trickling in
a camera drifts among the habitats,
an irritating proxy for 28,000
generous monthly subscribers.

Harried by the polls and free
of typical zoo regulations,
the latest volunteer hauls bales
for an overdue visit to Celestine.

Purchased as a cube in a hamper,
she developed claws, venom,
then wrath in an adolescence
that threatens to endure.

The creature’s tail seems placid
when the door admits the flying eye
but several nostrils twitch in tandem
as the boot steps draw near.

Disdaining her ration of protein hay,
Celestine grabs for the howling mix
of testosterone and precocity before her.
Today’s live feed ends within minutes.

And once the hangovers slink away,
the crew will need to locate
this voyage’s fifth “Darby”
to placate Celestine’s best patrons.

It’s getting harder to find help out here.


K.M. Praschak’s work has appeared in the Retro Spec anthology, Star*Line, and Abyss & Apex.
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