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The Joke Is On Jasper



    Jasper was a porcupine
    Who lived within the wood;
    He had as sharp a set of quills
    As any mammal could.

    Jasper's temper was so fierce
    That each time he went out
    His mother feared he wouldn't fail
    To give someone a clout.

    Jasper felt annoyance when
    He couldn't get his way;
    And so it came to pass that he
    Was angry every day.

    Jasper didn't like to stop,
    He didn't like to wait;
    When anything obstructed him
    He grew most obdurate.

    Jasper had no patience when
    Surrounded by a crowd;
    He claimed he couldn't stand the crush,
    And that it was too loud.

    Jasper wanted all to know
    That what he said was law;
    And anyone who disagreed
    Learned quickly to withdraw.

    Jasper fussed and Jasper fumed
    And Jasper raged and growled;
    When anyone said "No!" to him,
    Oh my, how Jasper howled!

    Jasper was the terror of
    The land for miles around;
    Whoever saw him come in time
    Went quickly underground.

    The rabbits and the foxes had
    A taste of Jasper's quills;
    The bears and deer, most sorely
    Acquainted with his skills.

    Even wolves and bobcats knew
    To get out of his path;
    For some of them who didn't felt
    A painful aftermath.

    Every day the temper of
    That porcupine got worse;
    Every day some passers-by
    Had punctured hide to nurse.

    Every day it grew more clear
    That something must be done
    To put a stop to lashings from
    That sharp phenomenon.

    And so the badger called his friends,
    And secretly they met
    To formulate a foolproof plan
    That Jasper would regret.

    They conjured up fantastic schemes
    To foil the porcupine,
    But every plan they talked about
    Was faulty in design.
    And then the groundhog blinked his eyes
    And looked around with glee.
    "A very brilliant thought," he said,
    "Has just occurred to me.

    "The lesson that our prickly friend
    Would find most permanent,
    Is one that is related to
    His own bad temperament.

    "The next time that he rants and raves
    And starts to shoot out spikes,
    We'll counter with a weapon that
    He very much dislikes."

    And so the talk continued on
    As far into the night,
    The animals discussed just how
    To give old Jas a fright.

    Next morning dawned all bright and clear
    While birds sang, loud and sweet;
    The woodland beasts wore knowing smirks;
    Jas headed for defeat.

    As usual, with surly glare,
    The porcupine set out,
    And soon discovered that a lot
    Of creatures were about.

    Jasper, as was widely known,
    Would not abide a crowd;
    He viewed the scene with smouldering eyes,
    His face a thunder-cloud.

    "Out of my way!" his gravel voice
    Demanded of his peers;
    But they all acted just as if
    They had forgot their ears.

    "Out of my way, I say!" he said,
    And all who watched could see
    His quills slowly begin to rise
    Straight up, portentously.

    "I'm warning you," growled Jasper.
    "I'm in no mood to joke.
    You'll be unhappy if you seek
    My temper to provoke."

    "Oh, really?" asked the badger,
    In tones serene and mild. "
    I do not see a soul here who
    Has tried to make you wild."

    This calm and quiet answer
    Just served to stir the rage
    Of that self-centered porcupine
    Who would not act his age.

    "I'm warning you just one more time,"
    He shouted to the group
    Of animals who came to stare
    At Jas, the nincompoop.

    "Get out! Get out! You're in my way.
    This path is mine alone.
    If you don't all move out at once
    My quills will make you groan."

    And with these words the porcupine,
    His quills outstretched and straight,
    Prepared to launch a full attack
    With spikes that penetrate.

    But at the very moment that
    He started to let go,
    He was himself attacked by one
    Whose name he did not know.

    This black and white opponent,
    Unarmed and small and soft,
    Was nonetheless respected when
    He held his tail aloft.

    An evil-smelling liquid hit
    Jas right between the eyes.
    His howl of rage could well be heard
    Up to the very skies.

    A ghastly odor drifted 'round
    Old Jas from stem to stern.
    The way he smelt, the way he felt,
    Were of no small concern.

    Jasper choked and gagged and gasped,
    And squirmed and stamped and shook,
    But nothing was successful of
    The ways he undertook

    Desperately to extricate
    Himself from that sad state.
    He tried to speak but found he was
    Quiet inarticulate.

    "I say, old chap," the badger said,
    Observing Jasper's plight,
    "It looks as though you've met your match
    In a one-sided fight.

    "You'll pardon me if I stand back,
    The scent of skunk is strong.
    I'd try to help you otherwiseń
    I would. Don't get me wrong."

    Balefully Jas glared at him
    While trying, with his paw,
    To wipe the liquid off his face.
    Then came a loud guffaw.

    It started with the foxes who,
    Beside themselves with mirth,
    Were joined by Father Bear, whose laugh
    Was bigger than his girth.

    The coyotes there all howled with glee
    The groundhog doubled up,
    The rabbits snickered nervously,
    While one intrepid pup

    Broke away from Mother Wolf,
    With impolite loud yaps.
    He laughed and laughed at Jasper till
    They thought he might collapse.

    At last the badger raised his paw
    And, gradually, each beast
    Pulled himself together, and
    The mighty guffaw ceased.
    Jasper scuffed his paws a bit,
    His eyes upon the ground.
    A more disheveled porcupine
    You hardly could have found.

    He'd never seen a skunk before;
    None lived within his wood.
    The damage that they could inflict
    He'd never understood.

    This one, imported for the plan
    The animals had made,
    Left little doubt that he had quite
    Enjoyed the escapade.

    He grinned at Jasper affably,
    Held out his paw, and spoke:
    "No hard feelings, pal, I hope.
    Do take it as a joke."

    "A joke!" exclaimed poor Jasper, who
       ignored the outstretched paw.
    "Your idea of humor is
    Extremely crude and raw!"

    "Jasper," said the badger, not
    Devoid of sympathy,
    "Do you know why our friend the skunk
    Behaved disgracefully?"

    "It was all done on purpose
    And planned ahead of time.
    We had good reason to inflict
    Upon you such a crime."

    Aghast, poor Jas stared at the skunk
    And at the badger, too;
    And then, ashamed, he looked away,
    For suddenly he knew

    Exactly why the animals
    Had played their trick on him.
    His conduct now he analyzed,
    And all his thoughts were grim.

    He gave a loud and wrenching sigh
    From deep within his being;
    For once, that selfish, prickly beast
    Indulged in some clear seeing.

    "Yes," said the porcupine at last,
    "I know that I deserve
    Exactly what I got today.
    I had a lot of nerve

    "When I insisted that you all
    Give in to my demands.
    My temper must be terrible.
    Each day my rage expands.

    "Now that I think it over, I
    Must say it's a surprise
    That you so long postponed the time
    Of my deserved demise.

    "I'd like to say I'm sorry now
    For being such a boor.
    The treatment from this worthy skunk
    Will be, I hope, my cure."

    "Hooray!" the animals then cried
    And broke into applause.
    The skunk saluted all his friends;
    He well had served their cause.

    The badger smiled benignly as
    Old Jasper, laughing loud,
    Found himself surrounded
    By a carefree, friendly crowd.

    "My friends," the badger raised his paw,
    "We're going to celebrate.
    A party's scheduled for tonight.
    The games will start at eight."

    And so that evening to the wood
    Came revelry and fun;
    For Jasper, new-born porcupine,
    A new life had begun.


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