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.
Ryan Stone lives in Melbourne, Australia. He shares his home in the Dandenong Ranges with his wife, two beautiful sons and a German Shepherd. On daily walks through his forest surrounds, he often peers down rabbit holes. His poetry has recently appeared in Writers’ Forum Magazine, Eunoia Review, Black Poppy Review, Napalm and Novocain, Poppy Road Review, Ekphrastic and Pyrokinection.