Day of the Dogs

curled in the street and asleep on an
empty mountain morning, where the

bitumen meets gravel, they don't see
me until the last second then erupt in

paroxysms of barking, flashing fangs
and slobbering. not statues after all

but brutus, cujo and company. some
chained and pacing for an opp, others

in roaming packs that circle, the alpha
pooch snarling as his mates look on

gobsmacked. I swing sticks and spit,
shout profanities and return threats, but they

keep pouring out of places, down
mowed front yards, from doorways and

fields, from beneath cars and junk-
cramped caravans, some with the look of

hyenas or wild boars, with drapes of flesh
and drool at the snout. petite foxes

beside big-pawed bears, a motley menagerie
of dog-not-dogs lurching for calves,

Achilles or hamstrings — wagging tails
and yelping puppily between conniptic fits

as if teasing their future prey. from a porch
or a window the resident yells ‘he won't

bite’ or ‘waving them sticks only makes
him angrier’ but, understand me, my rangy

legs are not your beast’s food and what lies
beyond these forlorn country roads, these

subdued sideways looks and terse spit-
first greetings, is suddenly extremely compelling.

John Charles Ryan (Western Australia)

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