Western Motel Poems

Skunk Cabbage


Saw my first spring skunk cabbage of the year today at Mass Audubon’s beautiful Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick, MA.

This poem is from my book Western Motel.



Out of nowhere, then,

skunk cabbages astonish

the meadow: pursed

and swollen spathes,

putrid fists, ugly,

unreticent, and inside,

a knotted yellow swarm.

Slugs, snails, five-lined skink,

blue-bottled flies are avid

on the cud of mottled leaves

whose stench is salvage.

How long winter slung itself

over my shoulder,

each rogue thing

obstinate, returning—