Ghostly Ka-nunnah

by Richard Peake

was an animal science fiction writers
might copy when seeking a nightmare beast
to create chills in movie goers
whose desire for scary films knows no bounds.

Do striped tiger ghosts stalk Van Diemen’s Land?
Do zebra wolves haunt Tasman nightmares?
Captive thylacines died in foreign hands.
Too late, ka-nunnah received protection.

Tasmanian tigers got a bum rap.
Thylacinus gynocephalus lurked
in Tasman outback to offer mishap
to the ranchers’ sheep that proved too tasty.

True, thylacines liked sheep, but took the blame
for feral dogs and wily bushrangers.
Called striped wolves, these predators’ native game
was kangaroos and wombats, not fat sheep.

It was a hunter, killer of mammals
whose sixteen dark vertical stripes revealed
wolf-like, ferocious beast chimerical.
Bounties on their heads, thylacines died out.

Or did they? They lurk in man’s memory.
Almost every year people claim they’ve seen
marsupial tiger shadows pass slyly,
ka-nunnahs sneaking through outback brush.