Humans Taken Hostage in Dog Park

A pack is following in a circle, a hierarchy beginning with scent. I am on a park bench. A humane society is one. A human society is another that remembers pairs of startled irises reflected in high beams. When we approach sleep, we draw a perfect circle, a string tied from our bodies to the circumference. Beyond the prime number of five, an alpha stays alpha by attackingonce per day. Neck scarves make them look like children until blindfolded. Tell us what you are spelling. You buried the electric fence like a rabbit was under there, its vibrations in a register only you could hear.

*Originally published in Stone Highway Review (edited by poets Mary Stone and Katie Longofono, though the magazine is now sadly defunct).

Ben Cartwright’s The Meanest Things Pick Clean was a finalist in the Floating Bridge Press chapbook competition and was published in 2017.  His work has appeared in The Pinch, DIAGRAM, West BranchSeneca Review, and elsewhere. His debut poetry collection, After Our Departure, was chosen by Nance Van Winckel as the winner of the Powder Horn Prize and was published by Sage Hill Press in 2016. Ben toured the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 2017 with the writers Leyna Krow, Tim Greenup, and Ellen Welcker as part of the Sinkhole Book Tour. He lives in Spokane, where he teaches at Spokane Falls Community College. He can be found online at

Photo by Sherman Yang.

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