Two Armadillos’ Strife

Feb 29, 2020 | Poetry

I have a love-hate relationship with poetry, including my own. Too much of it is contrived, precious, melodramatic, and affected. This one, though, makes me laugh, and maybe cements my claim to being the only person who’s written a poetic ode to roadkill in sonnet form.

Two Armadillos’ Strife

Against the truck, two armadillos fought
(They lost not only lives, but tail and ear)
‘Twixt sun and rain and tire tread they rot;
And yet, Death is no sneering victor here!
See? In the putrid stinking street they lie
Crushed, congealed, their armored innards cool,
Providing shelter for the pregnant fly
Who leaves her maggots where dogs dare not drool.
The gleaming pearls wriggle – what a treat!
Joyful little maggots writhe and nibble
On fetid juice and desiccated meat
A revolting sight – no one would quibble –
But thus, within this roadkill springs new life;
Small recompense for armadillos’ strife.

Copyright 2003-2020 Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard; A Puppy, Not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw; and the newest release: A New Leaf for Lyle, illustrated by Carrie Salazar. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young-at-heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.


  1. Peter Wright

    Trust my luck to check email and then read your roadkill poem just before supper.

    Luckily I have a strong stomach, nothing puts me off my food. Not even “joyful little maggots” and “desiccated meat”. Both sound similar to popular snacks in Africa.

    A good poem, definitely not “precious”
    Peter Wright recently posted…Short Story About My Dog MikeMy Profile

    • Holly Jahangiri

      Ahh, we could enjoy a meal together, then!

      Dinner table talk was never “safe” in our home, when I was a kid. Nothing was off limits, and I was a very curious child – not the least bit squeamish. I did not mean to be unkind to my mother, who wasn’t exactly squeamish but who had a sensitive stomach that was far too easily triggered. (Even the word “mucus” could make her throw up. Humming the first few notes of, “The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out…” could do it. I was not unkind enough to do it on purpose, though. She was lucky.) Still makes me laugh to remember this one night, we were having dinner at a nice restaurant, fairly crowded. A friend of my parents’ – someone who had, earlier in their career, been an undertaker – was with us. I asked something like, “How do you embalm people?” I did not want some polite and simple answer, I wanted details. The whole process. He looked to my parents for guidance, and they gave him the go-ahead. Looking back, I’m really surprised anyone within earshot didn’t run out of that restaurant, right then and there. My dad might remember for sure, but I doubt I was older than 10 or 11 at the time. I had what you might call a rather cheerful “Wednesday Addams” streak. Like, if Wednesday wore colorful clothes.

  2. Mitchell Allen

    My Dear Holly,

    All poetry is contrived. Humans have rhythm, but rarely rhyme. Most folks have two left metrical feet. You can be proud of your poetic pirouettes.



    Mitchell Allen recently posted…Giving Up the GhostMy Profile

    • Holly Jahangiri

      You’re right, of course – the poet always contrives the poem, and thus, in the past passive sense of the verb, all poems were contrived. But isn’t it interesting, how the adjective has taken on a negative connotation? More like “unnaturally forced.” More artifice than art. (In the 2b sense, more than in the 1a sense, here: )

      As you can imagine, I am rather fond of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130:

      SONNET 130
      My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
      Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
      If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
      If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
      I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
      But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
      And in some perfumes is there more delight
      Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
      I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
      That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
      I grant I never saw a goddess go;
      My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
      And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
      As any she belied with false compare.

      That said, I also love 116, but that is probably because I had to memorize, study, and fully understand it in order to explain it in class when I was a kid. And it stuck. It’s one of the few that I can recite, to this day. “Love is not love, which alters when it alteration finds, nor bends with the remover to remove…”

      Some poems are too cryptic. 130 is easy; 116 is layered with meaning, but clear as a bell (if you’re willing to go back and look up a few words, and consider the metaphors of the day). Too many modern Internet poets seem to think that poetry is meant to be obscure and out of reach, probably because they never took the time to peel the layers of a well-written poem to understand it, and thus think well-written equals unfathomable. Or lofty – it’s harder, for me, to avoid overfitting a poem with big words or strained syntax that makes me sound like I’ve spent too much time at RenFest or something. I’m kind of proud of this one, because where I DID do that, it was deliberate – and, like Shakespeare’s 130, poked fun at the whole thing in the process.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted…Two Armadillos’ StrifeMy Profile

      • Mitchell Allen

        You’re a scholar, to boot! I’m not familiar with either sonnet, though I get what you’re saying, after reading through them both.

        Interestingly, your commentary on modern poets applies to every artistic endeavor–most notably, paintings. Wine-tasters, cigar enthusiasts and the like always prattle on about the essence of this and that.

        The only collectors I enjoy are those who delve into comic books and board games. LOL


        Mitchell Allen recently posted…The AcheMy Profile

        • Holly Jahangiri

          You knew that about me! LOL I would’ve been a professional student if that were a real thing. Unfortunately, it’s not, so I had to find paying work.

          Yes, you’re right about art and wine and cigars (sometimes, they’re just paint on canvas, pressed grapes, and dried leaves wrapped in dried leaves). 😀

          I have a friend who’s an artist, and it took MANY conversations (and much teasing – me, of him, that is!) before I learned to enjoy modern/abstracct art. He made it approachable and down to earth, and I realized it’s often not the artists that make it pretentious at all.

          I will never appreciate Marcel DuChamp’s “Fountain” or Jo Baer’s “Brilliant Yellow” #whateveritis… Although I may paint my own “Stupid Yellow #3” at some point… maybe I’ll decoupage a dead armadillo to it.

          • Mitchell Allen

            Yeah, I kinda mixed metaphors: artists and those who critique them. Bottom line, I’d rather hang out with real people, regardless of whether they’re doers or thinkers. The insipid regurgitators can stay home. 🙂


            Mitchell Allen recently posted…The World-wide EruvMy Profile

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