Black Dog

You’re back.

I sense you stalking in the tall grass
sizing the right moment to pounce.
I hear the guttural rage in your snarl
chaos confusion turned temper.
I taste your panting despair in the air
the heaving of dissipating faith.
I smell the dampness of your pelt
weary from yet another storm.

What angers you into baring fangs?
What scares you into lockjaw?
What panics you into biting?
What heartbreak causes you to howl against the wind?

I have discovered your power.
You are constant evolving;
you are shape-shifting savage.
I thought I had domesticated you last time
but you were only meantime appeased.
I have discovered why you track me.
It was never to hunt me prey.
I had mistaken your reactions for your intentions.
Fighting you only deepened the wounds
from where we were both bleeding.
I have discovered your origins.
You were born in the blackouts
of my requiem nursery rhymes
of flailing in the waves of men’s cologne
of drowning in boozy escape
of scars etched by my own hands
of my cheek cold against rock bottom.
My holy canine
I war against you no more.

Let us weave our barbwire voices
to create our own seraphic language.
Let your hackles be soothed
under the stroking of my palms.
I seek to understand why you have come again.
I am cautious, but no longer afraid of you
for you were never summoned to
tear my flesh into trophy ribbons
or savour the taste of my bloody soul.
I know that now.
Let us brave loving in open fields
under dusky suns and blazing moons
and together, burn through whatever perils await us.

For I have discovered your secret:
you are feral shield
you are wild warning
you are rabid guardian
you are bleeding crucifix
you are tormented protector
you are beast knight
you are tear-stained dagger
you are divine fire
you are fighting victim
you are twisted hero

you are me



Ria Masae Ria Masae is of Samoan descent, born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau.  Her work has appeared in publications such as, takahe, Best New Zealand Poems 2017, Landfall, and the Mexican poetry website Circulo De Poesia.  In 2018, Ria became the 'Going West Poetry Slam' champion, and in 2019 she was a recipient of the 'NZSA Mentor Programme'.  A collection of her poetry is published in the recently
released, 'AUP New Poets 7' anthology.