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Emma Buoni

I am a wild dog that has been spurned and tricked 

enough times to be suspicious of anyone who whistles for me. 

The food they offered was bait to lure me close so 

little boys could throw rocks at the ribs 

that jutted through my chest. 

I starved  in every way possible and 

I could not bite them- 

I was too slow to bite in my youth. 


Another child offered me food and did not move fast enough to dodge- 

my yellow teeth as they sank into their hand and I tasted blood,  

but my hunger was still not quenched, and I still do not know 

if they held a rock within the pocket of their jacket, 

and that uncertainty keeps the guilt away on cold nights, 



There is something wrong with me, 

where my fur falls out in patches and 

I run in front of cars on the highway to reach 

the other side for reasons I can’t explain. 

I was born with no shame and learned it  

painfully in my old, dog-year age 

through pack tactics while cornered in metal kennels. 


I am hungry. 

But somewhere in my hunger my teeth grew dull from chewing  

on bones of want and scraps of love I found in dark alleyways before 

I could be scared off.  

I seek companionship and crave a gentle hand so badly  

it outweighs my hunger and I 

show my belly and 

sometimes, still, I find more rocks. 


But I am more than my teeth. I am more than my hunger. 

I am more than my bruises and wounds, even if some still bleed 

I am callused paws and big dark eyes 

I am fierce and fanged and much too eager to please 

in hopes of something more than a morsel of desire. 

I am feral and desperate, but I am learning to be good. 

I am good. Tell me I am good. 

Fall 2023

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