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The Rotting Skunk on Fontaine Avenue

Published onDec 06, 2023
The Rotting Skunk on Fontaine Avenue

Photo by Bruno Ticianelli:

Compassion is a very untenable ground. – Henry David Thoreau

Whenever I cross over you
I leave my nostrils open —
you smell like a road trip
from the backseat as a boy
on the way to see relatives
in an evening lit farmhouse
synonymous with tractors
and barbed wire brush. 

Your fresh pile of remains
on display in the sun
has been pummeled by tires
for how many weeks now
between the auto body shop
and the Mexican restaurant
your dollops of white tufts
still mat the black pelt. 

I cross over you through town
every day on this route —
I take the same turns
down synonymous blocks
in driven repetition to out-
run run-on sentences
in between work and home
I save up for a holiday. 

What skunk needs a holiday
beyond birth and death
or vocation beyond need
beyond shelter, beyond sleep?
We’re dazed into new needs
by cross-pollinating currencies
we gaze into a lateness
and accelerate its arrival. 

I savor the chance antonyms —
the skunks in the country
the small gifts of negation
that cheer our disgust.
We drive over skunks
and they fill up our cars
with a tonic of wildness
that errs all conditioning.

Nate Braeuer discovered poetry as a songwriter. Born in Houston, TX, in 1975, he attended film school at NYU, before settling in Charlottesville, VA. Since 2019 he has attended workshops at the WriterHouse in Charlottesville, and has published poems in Streetlight Magazine. His poetry seeks to transcend the suburban.

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