Moth Balls, Skunks and Cedar

Lichen on Cedar

Moth Balls, Skunks and Cedar

Last night it teemed with rain,
now the garden fence steams in the morning sun.

That fence has been there
oscillating between disrepair and repair
since we moved in.

The posts are the weak points,
when you dig down
the ground teems with wood bugs and weevils
gorging on that succulent cedar.

The garden shed is also cedar.
One summer, a family of skunks
made their home underneath it.
They would regularly strut across the lawn in single file
father, mother and two young skunks
tails cocked, sphincters primed
afraid of nothing or no one.
I wrote a haiku about them
and then when they were no longer
of literary value
I spread moth balls
all around the entrance to their hole,
an internet remedy which did not work.
It’s a tad quixotic or ironic or both, isn’t it,
trying to use smell to get rid of skunks.

All that summer
as we sat drinking on the deck
and the evening sun warmed the cedar shed,
the odour of skunk and moth balls
that naphthalene-mercaptan cocktail
would hit us in gusts, in waves
like halitosis at a party
and inevitably, invariably
I would turn to anyone within boring distance
and say,
as our noses twitched in disgust,
“Isn’t nature marvelous? Isn’t nature marvelous?”

This poem was originally inspired by a prompt from Brendan over at earthweal, see below. The theme today over at dverse, courtesy of Claudia is:

“Write about your own, your neighbour’s or your city’s garden – or one that only exists in your imagination. Write about harvest, growth, decay – where ever the word “garden” takes you.

So I thought I would give the poem another outing!

The prompt from Brendan over at earthweal was this:

For this week’s challenge, TEEM. Write a poem that introduces the reader to the environment you live in –a landscape shaped by time with a culturally diverse ecosystem (with human, animal and non-animal elements). Widen the focus, deepen the gaze and green the voice. “

36 thoughts on “Moth Balls, Skunks and Cedar

    1. sdtp33 Post author

      Ha, thanks Jade, I’m not much of a dancer but I try! Just wondering…did you check out my last post “The Note”? I know you are a big music fan and I always enjoy your posts, would be interested to know what you think of the song…JIM

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Suzanne

    I’ve never smelt a skunk. We don’t have them in Australia. They sound obnoxious even though they look cute. I like you humourous approach to the problem.


  2. memadtwo

    When my daughter was about 10 she and her best friend used to pitch a tent in summer and camp out in her friend’s back yard. Unfortunately, the local skunks decided they wanted to camp there too…


  3. Sherry Marr

    Yes, nature is marvelous and I so enjoyed your skunks, tails up, owning the yard. I love this. One early morning I was blithely hanging laundry on the line when I looked down and saw a skunk right beside my foot. I have no idea why she didnt spray me…….she likely was as startled as I was.


  4. donmatthewspoetry

    Golly gosh. I had to come back to earth after reading Brendan’s challenge

    ‘ green the voice’ . ‘Be wild’. ‘Gallop and fly and dive’

    And it continues…. ‘be florid and peculiar but particular’. ‘What is in the petri dish of the verse-captured moment that undulates and cavorts and cha-cha-chas at the end?’

    Golly gosh…..I’m lost

    Liked by 1 person

  5. brian miller

    haha. oy. it sounds like my trials trying to keep the deer out of our garden. we tried so many things…and definitely some internet remedies that did not work. Love the smell of cedar, though the skunk smell definitely would over ride it. At least you got another poem out of them, but then again I am sure that doe snot make up for the perfume….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. msjadeli

    I just re-read this and laughed again. Then it occurred to me that cedar is supposed to keep bugs away, yet the bugs were dining on your cedar fenceposts and shed. Maybe the bugs didn’t get the memo? There has got to be some kind of plant that skunks don’t like that you could plant after you raze the shed and get rid of the mothball residue.



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