Once again, a skunk has set up housekeeping beneath my office. I arrive every morning to a musky reek. By mid-morning, it’s given me a headache.

How do I deal with this annoyance? I dash off a poem about it, of course.

Unwelcome Visitors
by J.D. Roth

Said Mr. Skunk to Mrs. Skunk,
“I think I’ve found the spot —
Beneath that old green trailer house
Is where I’ll sling my cot.

The ground is damp, the air is cool,
The grass uncommon fine:
It’s filled with frogs and slugs and such.
The water’s sweet as wine!”

The loving pair, redolent there,
Made a home with a comfort air,
Filled their lair with a scent so fair
And settled for a nap.

Deep in their sleep, they dreamed skunk dreams
Of tender mice and tangerines,
Of spider kings and beetle queens,
All eaten in a snap.

They bolted wake come break of day,
Alarmed to hear the sound —
The clumping, clomping, human feet stomping —
Which echoed all around.

“Alas, my love, we must soon leave,”
Said Mr. Skunk, aggrieved.
“Let’s give a gift of scent so sweet,
Return when the humans flee.”

Perhaps the skunks will be appeased by my quick poetic tribute and begone. But I doubt it.


On 20 October 2004 (09:14 AM),
J.D. said:

Some points of interest (or not):

  • This is the first poem I’ve written in many moons. (In many suns, actually.) I tried to write one last year — “Harrison, Harrison, where can you be?” — but never finished.
  • This poem took me about an hour to write. I had just started when I mentioned it at 8:12 in a comment on the last entry. I posted this entry at 9:04. Between these times, I mainly worked on the poem (though I did two price quotations.)
  • The rhythm and rhyme scheme are intentional. I consciously broke the meter in at least one location (possibly two — I can’t remember). When I first started writing poetry in junior high, I was a strict adherent of rhyme. As I aged, rhyming became my enemy. Now that I am old and grey, I’ve come full circle: I believe a poem that adheres to a strict meter and rhyme scheme is generally superior to one that does not. Why? Because it is far more difficult to write. Far more. Blank verse and free verse are often lazy.
  • I wanted a very funny ending, but instead delivered only a mildly amusing one. I am not Joel.
  • This was fun to write.

And because of that last point, you can be certain you’ll see more poetry here in the future. 🙂

On 20 October 2004 (09:15 AM),
J.D. said:

P.S. I quite like my title as it is ambiguous…

On 20 October 2004 (10:30 AM),
Amy Jo said:

Replace the glass? Or give in to Scotch?

On 20 October 2004 (10:37 AM),
J.D. said:


The glass shop didn’t get my pane cut yesterday (though they called me first thing this morning to say it’s ready), so Jeremy and I removed the moulding (from the outside — the stuff I pried away from the inside really was part of the door), vacuumed up the glass, smoked on the porch — a good pipe soothes the soul — jawed about life, fixed some good steaks, drank some wine, and parted ways.

Funny story about the steaks:

I pulled the t-bones out of the freezer on Monday and stuck them in the fridge. On Tuesday morning, Kris checked them for me and decided they were too frozen still, so she set them on the counter. While we were at work, one (or more) of the cats decided that steak sounded like a fine snack. When we got home, the steaks were on the floor, unwrapped, well-chewed. Jeremy and I decided to eat them anyway. We left them on the counter while we worked. When we came back later, there was Simon, happy as can be, sitting on the counter and gnawing on a steak. Damn cat!

The steaks were great despite (or perhaps because of) the cat juice.

But enough of that: I wrote a poem! A poem! 🙂

On 20 October 2004 (11:05 AM),
Dana said:

Okay, two things. First, on the subject of cat-chewed steak: Ew!

Second, you should stop smoking. Everybody should stop smoking. Tobacco companies are just about as Evil as industry gets, the impact on your health is significant (what happened to losing weight and getting into shape?), and it’s setting a bad example for the kids in your life (like Hank & Scout). Plus, I bet Kris hates it.


On 20 October 2004 (12:43 PM),
Paul said:

A SMALL step like completing a single poem may lead to larger steps that take you to the places you want to be.

Enjoy your creation, it is the perfect poem today.

On 20 October 2004 (01:03 PM),
dowingba said:

Is it intention that your poem randomly switches between an ABAB rhyming scheming and an AAABCCCB scheme? I find it disorienting.

On 20 October 2004 (01:11 PM),
J.D. said:

Yes, I alternated the rhyme scheme intentionally. That is not to say it was a good choice, however.

The first two stanzas are section A, the second two stanzas are section B, and the third two stanzas are section C. Sections A and C use the same rhyme scheme and meter. Section B is like a bridge in a song, really. (And, in fact, at first I called this entry (and poem) “Song of the Skunk”.)

I’m not saying what I’ve done is good or right, but that it was done with a purpose. 🙂

On 20 October 2004 (01:20 PM),
Drew said:


(Really. I love the poem, even with the unusual rhyme scheme.)

On 20 October 2004 (01:51 PM),
Dave said:

One is tempted to think that if the skunks leave when the humans show up, perhaps the humans might want to close up whatever hole the stiny ones use for access…?

On 20 October 2004 (01:54 PM),
Denise said:

Dave, you cannot apply reason when discussing skunk poems. Not acceptable.

On 20 October 2004 (02:45 PM),
J.D. said:

Here’s what kind of genius my brother, Tony, is:

He knows there’s a skunk under the office, he knows I’ve heard it moving around today, and what does he do? He comes in and jumps up and down on the floor.


I don’t think the thing sprayed or anything, but it definitely shifted. Nick and I noticed an increase in the intensity of the rank musk almost immediately.


And Dave: have you seen how much of the skirt is gone around the trailer house? It’d be a monumental task to close all the openings. Plus, if we did that, where would I get my weblog entries?

On 20 October 2004 (08:28 PM),
Mom (Sue) said:

While I was working at the shop tonight, I specifically watched and listened and sniffed for any sign of skunks. There were a couple of times when a knock sounded and that most likely came from under the trailer because there were no other people around. However, there was no smell and I didn’t see any skunks at any time while I was there. Apparently they are kicking up their heels and spraying during the night or as your poem says, when they hear the human feet clomping overhead in the morning and decide they want to try to get rid of you. 🙂

On 21 October 2004 (07:01 AM),
Anthony said:

What fun!

On 21 October 2004 (10:52 AM),
Johnny said:

Oh Skunky, Skunky, wherefor art thou Skunky,
thou makest the trailer smell so funky.

Dressed in black with a white stripe there
you’re all dressed up for a stunning affair
never mind you’ve fur, not hair.

Oh Skunky, Skunky, wherefor art thou Skunky,
the smell in the office is so thick it’s gunky.

Though your odor may give others a fit
truth be told I don’t mind it a bit
even if it does smell like I’m standing in ca-ca.

On 14 December 2004 (06:08 AM),
Jeff said:

You ain’t smelled nothin’ yet, JD. Just wait ’til you get to work today…

On 14 December 2004 (06:10 AM),
J.D. Roth said:

Something tells me I ought to call in sick.

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