Avis Harley tomorrow AND Let the voting begin!

Hi everyone,

This week my Featured Guest is poet Avis Harley. Avis lives in Canada and is a retired teacher. Here is the bio she sent to share and wouldn’t you know, some of it’s in rhyme. This is a refreshing way to read a bio! Here’s Avis.


Born in Vancouver
close by the sea,
she earned an MA
from the U. of B.C.
A teacher, writer,
mother, and wife,
lover of poetry
all of her life—
she’s now retired
and devotes her time
to the crafty business
of Rhythm-and-Rhyme.

Avis has worked in elementary schools in Canada and England, and has given poetry presentations in Canada, U.S., Hong Kong, and Japan. She has also taught at the University of British Columbia in the Language and Literacy Department, exploring ways to bring children and poetry together with teachers and librarians.

Her early love of poetry grew into a life-long interest in experimenting with words, rhythms, patterns, and poetic forms. Avis has written and illustrated Fly with Poetry: An ABC of Poetry; its companion book, Leap into Poetry: More ABCs of Poetry; and The Monarch’s Progress: Poems with Wings.

Her poetry book, Sea Stars: Saltwater Poems is illustrated with photographs by Margaret Butschler. The photographer for African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways is Deborah Noyes. Many of her poems are published in anthologies and magazines, and are largely focused on the natural world.

Now retired from teaching, Avis enjoys hiking, gardening, crosswords, reading, and music—especially singing. She lives with her husband in Vancouver, British Columbia. They have one son.

Thank you, Avis. I look forward to introducing you tomorrow!

If you want to reread the May Word of the Month poems, I’ve posted them below the ballot boxes. David


1) For You

There is a glamour in your eyes,
Soft the south wind sighs,
pale the lonely stars above,
while the night will promise dreams of love.
There is romance in your smile-
wait for me a little while,
let me prove that love is true
all my hearts’ saved for you

— Don Barrett

2) Said the Pony to the Lab

Foraging along fence lines
Pony pauses, lab draws near
Hey, you Labrador, c’mere
Check out my domain, all mine

Black lab ponders, pants
Pony’s twitchy-witching
Lab sits, idly itching
Thinking, can-I-can’ts

Pony shrills and keens
Lab yacking merry mayflies
Observe my screamin’ green!

Pony promises plenty
Butter up that pup, yups
Promises of Buttercups
Lab: I’m not yet twenty

Yet I’m a big’un
I simply can’t be seen
Strollin’ in screamin’ green
Pony: 2 me, you’re small, son

Considerable conundrum:
Small, tempestuous pony
Large, black lab-er-oni
Amidst goldy-greening maelstrom

Queen of screamin’ green
Pleads, eyelids dancing
Lab approaches, prancing
Butter me up, promises keen

And I’ll be your quiet king,
And turn screamin’ green serene….

— Sidanne

3) Foolish Games

It was a foolish game.
Rubber bands around purple wrists,
Fingers cold and tingly,
Imagining blood would cease
And icy fingers would drop
Screaming for life
To the floor.

But the foolish game ended.
Rubber bands returned to junk drawers,
Fingers warm and alive,
Imaginations running on
For other childish games
To be enjoyed
And discarded
So is the tyrant’s game.
As he sifts through his junk drawer,
Looking for rubber bands
He seems warm and alive,
His people heed the promise,
And we just look
For more new games.

Oppression squeezes tighter.
Like rubber bands on purple wrists
Once screaming for life,
The oppressed grow icy
And drop to the floor.
There’s no return–
And foolish games go on.

— gay fawcett

4) No Promise

The word of love
Friends forever
A guarantee
Easily broken
Cross your heart
Hope to die
Sworn to love
Death do us part
Shouldn’t be said
If easily broken
For part of the heart
Dies and promises
Blow in the wind.

— © by Mary Nida Smith

5) Promises

Promises, Promises, Promises
I want them all
Some say my order’s too tall
I want health, wealth, happiness
I’ve been told that is just sappiness
The world’s opportunities are
new each day
I can gather my desires all
along the way
Peace, joy, health are mine
Moving toward wealth all the time
I am greatful for blessings
come true
Accept the promises in you.

— Janet Kay Gallagher

6) Right Whale Bones
Eubalaena glacialis

One day I’ll take a whale watch boat
To see your great descendants float
And breach up their enormous girth,
Before they perish from the earth.

That day I’ll hear their right whale song,
And I will gladly sing along,
As they intone with mammal mirth,
Before they perish from the earth.

And if I’m lucky, I’ll have spied
An infant calf by mother’s side,
Who weighs a ton his day of birth,
Before they perish from the earth.

Your skeleton is ghostly white,
But I will join your faithful fight.
If humans learn your precious worth,
You’ll never perish from the earth.

©2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

7) Promises, Promises

This way, please.
It’ll only take a minute.
Do we have your paperwork…?
Okay, yes—here we go.
Now, that was easy, wasn’t it?
We’ll have the results on Tuesday.
What time?
Oh, I can’t say.
But they’ll be here by—
Yes, I promise.
Excuse me?
What will they show?
Oh, my.
Nothing you have to worry about,
I’m sure.
How can I be so sure?
Oh, I see—
you’re not sure.
Ummm… well, yes.
That’s a possibility.
That, too—
but… as I was saying—
we’ll have the results….
What if…?
Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Tests are one thing;
results are another.
What did you say?
Oh—your mother had it.
I see.
And your grandmother?
Oh… dear.
Well, remember…
the tests are just routine—
No. I’ve never—
Well, because . . .
I’ve never been exposed to,
you know…
Here, please…
take this.
Don’t cry.
Ah, that’s better now.
Yes, I know.
I know.
Nothing’s guaranteed,
is it?
There, there.
Everything will be okay,
you’ll see…
You’re upsetting the other patients.
Okay… okay…
I’m sorry—
I—you—we… we’ll just have to wait—
Oh, don’t mention it…
we all have bad days.

— julie Krantz

8) Yeti’s Promise

Yeti made a privy promise
between him and Sheriff Thomas.
Pledgin’ to stay out of trouble
in lieu of costs with fines double.
One night, the Yeti, out from hidin,’
tryin’ to be law abidin,’
had the urge to “kick it.”

Root beer lead to sassafraassin’
so he was cited for harassin’
bystanders and pedestrians.
Then we mad equestrians,
gathered guns and tawny ropes.
Some read their horoscopes in hopes
of guidance in the thicket.

The search, it lingered on for days
then somethin’ moved beyond the haze.
It spooked the horses and the men.
We heard it once and then again.
In that darkness he approached us,
then smiled and said “Buenos noches,
how ‘bout a game of cricket?”

Not lookin’ for a fight that night
we played cricket by the moonlight.
The game, was too complex for us
and he was ambidextrous.
We thought we were appeasin’ him
and no one teased him on a whim,
yet he began to picket.

“Your promise, Yeti, that’s why we’re here
just pay your fine, no need to fear.”
“We’ve searched and you’ve eluded us.”
“Don’t picket and be rude to us.”
Then shots rang out, the chase was on.
We think we hit him but he’s gone…
and someone paid the ticket.

— Copyright 2011 by Ken Slesarik
All Rights Reserved

9) Broken

You promised!
I didn’t. I said I would try.
You promised!
I didn’t.
You did! And you lied!
I said…
You would do it.
If it could be done.
You promised you’d do it
I said…Stop! Don’t run.
I’m leaving. You promised. You promised.
Don’t cry.
You promised you’d stay.
Please don’t go.
No! Goodbye…

— liz korba

10) It’s Sneaky – Be Aware

I’m going crazy
out of my mind
that creepy little ivy
was the poisonous kind

I didn’t even know
that’s how this plant works
days later rash shows
it itches, it hurts

I try not to scratch
poor body’s rubbed red
each bump, swollen patch
keeps growing; it spreads

It’s vicious and mean
but I restrain; stay strong
apply calamine cream…

Still, recovery takes long

Well, I did learn a lesson,
how to ID and give care –

So now I promise you skin
I’ll watch out. I’ll beware!

— Jackie Huppenthal

11) Are You Sure?

Think before you speak.
Promises easily made
are often not kept.

— Beth Carter

12) The Promise

Boughs bare brown
Bounty-full buds flower blossoms vivid-white
Buzzing pollen kisses
Green leafy embrace
Cherrilicious red harvest
Nature’s pledge-unspoken, unbroken

— Cory Corrado

13) I Promise, I’ll Write It!

The paper sits before me.
It’s empty lines implore me.
The words inside are forming…
I promise….I’ll write it!
Oh yes, I have the plot.
Adventure and fun, I’ve got!
Characters, a mischievious lot…
I promise…I’ll write it!
And the ending, oh it will surprise!
Amazment right before your eyes!
Tears for girls, guffaws for guys…
I promise…I’ll write it!
I’ll get it all down, quick as a wink.
But, of course, I must take time to think.
O darn…my pen ran out of ink.
But I promise….I’ll write it!
— Martha Dinsdale


1) The King’s “Grammer”
(The title has a grammatical error in it because many of my friends say that I am “too perfect.”)

I once had a friend
That would give me a dollar
if I promised I would not correct his
or other people’s grammar.

I said, “Fine!” and the game was started.
Quickly however, I insisted I could not do it.
It was just far too hard.
Someone said an incomplete thought to me.
This is what I said:
“Your attempted formation of a sentence has failed, because you have not a predicate.”
Another friend said, “You Thailand people…”
This is what I said:
“When describing a nationality of a country, you use the demonym of the country,
not the country itself that you wish to describe from where that person is from.”

When a sparrow is born,
he will learn how to fly.
No one can say, “Don’t fly today!” to the sparrow.
It is natural;
The sparrow was born to fly,
and it is natural that a sparrow can and will fly.

Alas, a sparrow can only be a sparrow.
Thus being said, I can only be myself.

— P. Andrew Pipatjarasgit, grade 6
Teacher: Jana Smith
Toledo, Ohio

2) Broken Home, Broken Field

I look at the floor hoping to see my reflection against shimmering wood
But all I see is concrete
The bed is now grey fluff and rotting wood
It will never be the luxurious mattress that I wish it was
I draw my eyes to the broken window that you promised to fix last week
Clouds carrying thunder and lightning come closer each second
The land is dry like a prairie
But not as dry as a desert
The sun hides behind the clouds
like a child hides behind a maple tree
during a game of Hide-and-Go-Seek
Not a single ray beams over the once-was grass
Not a single bit of care was put into them
Just like the room
With the broken bed

— Maya Dayal, grade 6
Teacher: Jana Smith
Toledo, Ohio

3) Balance

The creature’s beauty
Was like that
Of a falling star
With not only its own light
But with that of the moon as well
Its one horn
Protruding from its forehead
With a radiance
So blinding
Could safely behold

And then
A figure
His blackness
Pure contrast
To her white coat
His features
Just a promise
In his dark aura
Swirling about him
Keeping everything back

One shedding light
The other stealing it
They race around the world
Always on opposite sides
For never
Do day and night meet
And as much as they wish otherwise
It must always be so
For equilibrium
For everyone
For balance

Emma Lavetter-Keiden, grade 5
Teacher-Nan Valuck
Toledo, OH

4) Unbroken

I’m two,
sitting on your lap
looking into your old eyes
You hold out your pinky
I peer at it…
“Promise me,”
You say,
“That you will
stay with me forever.”
I nodded my two-year-old head
And hold out mine.

I’m five
Packing my bags
With you,
We seal boxes
Tears stream from your eyes
As we load them into the car
I get in,
But you don’t.
You wipe a tear
I lean out
and whisper,
“I will always be with you,
In there.”
I say
while pointing to your heart
You nod you 63-year-old head
and wave you hand
as the door shuts.

I’m seven,
Pushing past the hospital curtains
to find you,
Lying there.
I run to the side of your bed,
and grab your hand,
and repeat our promise.
We nod our heads
and look into each others eyes
I never thought that,
I would see you like this.
I sit there
Letting tears,
Drip from my eyes
until the nurse escorts me out.

Back then, I didn’t know
that we would
meet again.
But now,
Every time
I gaze at the stars
I see your constellation,
Smiling down at me,
Pointing to your heart.
And there it is…
Our promise.

Ishani Gupta, grade 5
Teacher-Nan Valuck
Toledo, OH

5) Curse You Homework
(This poem is meant for two voices. The second voice is in all capitals.)

Digging and digging,
Reaching and reaching,
Searching and searching.
“I knew I had my homework.”


“It was right here, right in this slot.”


Then I thought,
My fish must have ate it!
No, no, no.
My guinea pigs!
Still, no.
My dad must have!
“My dad ate my homework.”


“I promise you!”


“My Dad at my homework! I assure you!”
Curse you homework.

Rory Hopkins, grade 5
Teacher-Nan Valuck
Toledo, OH

Word of the Month poems deadline at noon today


Hi everyone,

Don’t forget that a couple of months ago I moved the usual W.O.M. deadlines from 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 noon CST. This gives me a chance to work with posts during the day instead of needing to stay up late to get them done. Thanks for understanding.

So today, May 25, I’ll cut off new entries at 12:00 noon. I hope you have enjoyed working on poems in May inspired by our word, PROMISE. There are a number of good ones posted and with a few hours yet remaining, we could see others come in.

Sadly, we have not heard from our students this month but that is understandable. After all, one has to cut teachers some slack when they are rushing around completing all the end of the year activities and requirements. It would be nice if we see some student poems this summer but all we can do is wait and see.

I’m typing with one eye again. This morning I had the second cataract surgery so I should be getting used to these patches!


WRITERS AT WORK: Dealing with Speaking Engagements (Part 4)

Hi everyone,

It’s Sandy Asher’s turn to share her thoughts and experiences regarding speaking engagements, the bane and reward for being a writer. This is one of the most humorous topics we’ve had and I love hearing from others with comments on the subject. Keep them coming! Now here is Sandy!

Topic 7: Dealing with Speaking Engagements
Response 4 — Sandy
May 24, 2011

Complaints! I had to dig pretty deeply into my supply of suppressed memories to come up with anything in the same league as your flight to nowhere, David. I can’t imagine the horror of showing up in a distant city only to find out you’re not on the program.

Rummaging around in that dark corner of the attic of my mind, I did come up with a doozy, though. Wayne, Nebraska. Did you know Wayne, Nebraska, is the home of the annual Chicken Cluck-off? Yup. Happens every July. But I was not there in July. I was there in the dead of winter, and I do mean “dead.” All was bright and clear as my plane landed in Omaha. I was met, right on time, by a friendly gentleman in a pick-up truck. I was eager to get to our destination, looking forward to two days of school visits, plus a couple of presentations at a regional teachers’ conference. Amazingly, over the past few months, the teacher who invited me had ordered first 100, then another 100, then a third 100 copies of my latest paperback, TEDDDY TEABURY’S FABULOUS FACT, perfect for the elementary school kids I was going to meet. Apparently, they thought so, too!

About half-way down the two-lane highway toward Wayne, we hit a wall of snow and sleet. Suddenly, we were fish-tailing back and forth across black ice, narrowly avoiding ditches on either side of the road. Finally, my companion got his four-wheel drive switched on and we settled into our own lane – just as a huge semi roared past in the lane we’d just slid out of seconds earlier.

That was for openers. It snowed, and it snowed, and it snowed. By the time we got to my motel – a Super 8 – you couldn’t tell where the sky ended and the earth began, in any direction. It never stopped snowing, the whole time I was in town. School went on, though, and the principal maneuvered his car over snow-packed roads each day to pick me up and deliver me door to door. But with delayed starting times and early dismissals, my classroom visits were reduced to a quick “Here’s the author. We have time for a couple of questions. Bye.”

The teachers’ conference was cancelled. And all those books? Never saw a one of them. Apparently, they never made it out of my hostess’s garage. She hadn’t sold a single one, let alone 300. She’d simply forgotten – twice – that she’d already ordered books, so she kept on ordering them.

During my stay, I was taken to the same little restaurant for an early dinner and then left at the Super 8 until the next morning. When I finally couldn’t stand my room anymore – or gazing out at the unrelenting whiteness all around me – I wandered down to the tiny lobby. There, I found a single tourist brochure, announcing the annual Chicken Cluck-off. In July. Missed it!

About half-way back to the airport in Omaha, the snow suddenly stopped, and all turned bright and clear again for my flight home, leaving me to believe that the blizzard never touched any other part of the state – only Wayne.

But let me end on a more cheerful note – concerning Warrensburg, again. That’s where a little boy taught me an important lesson about how much children appreciate honesty. As you know, David, Children’s Literature Festival participants visit one author after another throughout the day. In one of my groups at my very first Festival was a skinny boy in a faded t-shirt who waved his hand madly as soon as I asked for questions.

“How old are you?” he wanted to know.

There was some tittering around the room and a few dirty looks from teachers, but we both did our best to ignore that. “Thirty-eight,” I replied, which was true at the time. “How old are you?”

“Ten,” he said.

“A good age,” I told him. “Mine is, too.”

He seemed satisfied, and I went on to answer a wide variety of questions from the rest of the group. Toward the end of the session, the same boy’s hand shot into the air again. “Do I dare call on him a second time?” I wondered. “Oh, what the heck.” I did.

“You’re very good at this,” he announced. “The other lady only got one question.”

We can only guess what that question might have been — and who asked it.

As for those book signings, David, a bookstore owner once told me the national average for books sold during a signing is 2. That’s right, 2. So any time I sell 3, I announce that I’m above average and rejoice! And those events where no one shows up? Have you ever thought about attending something, decided against it, and then imagined everyone who DID go really enjoyed themselves? That’s the way I’ve come to look at it. The PR goes out announcing the event, always a good thing. Everyone who doesn’t show up thinks everybody else DID show up and had a terrific time. It’s a “virtual success.” Not so bad.

Life on the road is very educational, don’t you think? And not just for the kids we go out to visit with — in rain, snow, sleet, but, so far, not dark of night.

Joplin, Missouri

Hi everyone,

Last night at least 89 people died in the tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri about seventy-five miles west of here. Veda Boyd Jones lives there and I don’t know if she is all right. You met Veda on October 12, 2010 in a segment of Writers at Work. Here’s the link. https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/writers-at-work-obstacles-to-writing /

Large sections of Joplin were wiped out, including one hospital. Our heart goes out to vicitims, their families, and to everyone whose lives will be dramatically disrupted for a long time to come.



I just received this note from Veda. “We’re four blocks from path. Just have trees down. None hit our house. Friends have lost homes. Thanks for checking. Veda.” Thank goodness for Veda and her family. We are dreadfully sorry for so many others who were not as fortunate.