The sweating men form a ring,
aroused by proximity to death.
Snatched from backyards as children slept,
two dogs now circle and snarl.
Flies feast on blood and one dog goes down,
back legs splayed, front torn and flailing.
Defeat is a whimper – sharp teeth at the throat –
from which men turn and tally bets.
I step from my father’s shadow
to stroke the blood-matted fur
of the dog left discarded on straw.
I know how it feels to be flayed.
First published by Algebra of Owls