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Dead Skunk Logo: round logo of a white skunk silhouette on a black background with the words “Dead Skunk” in cursive. “Dead” is neon purple and “Skunk” is neon yellow.

After many years in Berkeley, Judy Clarence now writes poetry from the foothills of the Sierras in Northern California where she lives with her daughter and grandchildren. A classical musician (violin, choral singing) she's a retired academic librarian. She doesn't drink soda, pop or Coke, but enjoys iced green tea.

Stepping stone path in clear blue water.



I can’t stop thinking:

Two dead skunks just

outside the culvert, noses

touching as if to breathe

each other’s last breaths.


I can’t stop wondering:

Why no blood? Too far off

the roadway to call

roadkill. Seems like someone

in my neighborhood abhors



I can’t stop seeing them, curled

together, bodies full of poison

turning blood to gum, then rock.


I can’t stop not smelling

skunk—they had no time

in fleeing their safe space to spew

their scent in self-defense.


This is how we may all go,

writhing, embracing, noses

touching, centuries of toxins

curling our stiff bodies into closure.

I can’t stop wanting to survive.

Header image from Getty Images Pro

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