Expecting a Dinosaur

For Ada Hoffman


No one ever expects a dinosaur.


Especially not on a small town street—
pounding the pavement with deadly clawed feet.


From beneath one of those feet, painful groans.
Those nearby shrieked, but then stifled their moans.
They knew what to do. They pulled out cell phones.


Could social media
save the day?
Or just catch
a dinosaur at play?


On Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram –
Hashtag #DinoATTACK started to trend
Was it some sort of trick? A hologram?
Hashtag #DinoATTACK started to trend.
On Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram.


The dinosaur ignored the upraised phones.
It hungered. For blood, for freshly caught meat.
For the rich marrow found in human bones.

It stalked down the street. Some tried to retreat—
their shrieks filling the air with dreadful tones.
Others tried to think of a clever tweet.


Bright, so bright, the afternoon sun.
Large, so large, each dinosaur track.
Sweet, so sweet, all the live action.

Simple, so simple, this attack—
Swift, so swift, this dinosaur run.
A pounce. A crack.
“CALL 911!”


Really, who wants to make that sort of call—
“I saw dinos! They’re on TWITTER!” “Goodbye.”
At best, it’s blamed on too much alcohol.
Really. Who wants to? Make that sort of call?
Could get you arrested. Or worse. Don’t try.
Well. Unless you’re in a dinosaur brawl.
Really. Who wants to make that sort of call?
“I saw dinos. They’re… on… Twitter… goodbye.”


After that, no one could really ignore
the phones, the videos, all of the trends—
or the live feeds from cameras galore
recording people fast meeting their ends.

So good for ratings! Keep tweeting, you guys!

Some even cheered, saying “This? Is hardcore.
Weird things like this? Really kinda godsends.
I mean, it’s a ravaging dinosaur.
Might be fake, but yeah—we’ll livetweet with friends.”


The sound of sirens in the air
The sound of roaring everywhere
The snapping jaw
The dripping claw
All cameras on the small town square.

Oh god. It’sreallya dinosaur?

The sight of a 30 foot stare
The gaping maw.
The sudden awe.

Oh god. It’s really a dinosaur.


A single lash of the dinosaur tail
sent oak branches flying into parked cars,
and window glass falling like heavy hail.

The city hall doors were the next to fall,
battered down by the dino’s bleeding head.
Employees emerged in a painful crawl.
The monster paced on. The destruction spread—
knocking out a café’s just repaired wall.

The music store with its custom guitars.
The restaurant with the micro-brewed ale.
The pizzeria. And far worse: the bars.


The internet watched, simply mesmerized
as the dinosaur continued its rampage
leaving people and buildings pulverized.
What, people wondered, would be the next stage?

As the dinosaur continued its rampage
crunching on human skin, they agonized.
What, people wondered, would be the next stage?
Could there be more? Would this be—normalized?

Crunching on human skin, they agonized.
The internet watched, simply mesmerized.
Could there be more? Would this be normalized—
leaving people and buildings pulverized?


While this was still under discussion
The dinosaur took off at a run.
Someone caught, in the ensuing din
a glimpse of a logo on its skin.
In neon green. Nearly a beacon.

That logo? Well-known in the region.
Owned by an economic linchpin
Given quite a nice little tax break.
Apparently nothing could be done.

So who could really take action?
Beyond letting the dinosaur win.
After all, with well paid jobs at stake,
Apparently nothing could be done.


The lawsuits came swiftly after all this
against the police, the lab, and the town.
Too many for the courts to just dismiss—
A bloody and brutal legal showdown.

Courts studied the pictures from Instagram
and read hundreds of detailed lab reports
Even took a look at a skiagram.
(Not something covered in classes on torts.)

The courts concluded the town was to blame—
for not saving itself from the attack.
The lab strongly concurred with the court’s claim—
The town should have prepared, should have fought back.

But the town said they could not have done more.
No one ever expects a dinosaur.


Mari Ness

Mari Ness has published poetry and fiction in, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Fireside, Nightmare, Nature Futures, Diabolical Plots, Strange Horizons, and previously here in Uncanny. Her poetry novella, Through Immortal Shadows Singing, is available from Papaveria Press; her first essay collection, Resistance and Transformation: On Fairy Tales, is from Aqueduct Press; and a tiny chapbook of fairy tales, Dancing in Silver Lands, from Neon Hemlock Press. For more, see her website at, or follow her on Twitter @mari_ness. She lives in central Florida, under the lazy supervision of two magnificent cats.

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