Caption that Cartoon!


Hi everyone,

Rob Shepperson has provided us with another of his wonderful drawings that needs a caption. You enjoyed our first two episodes so it seems time to try a third. Sometimes the secret is to go with your first impulse. Over thinking can get you in trouble and risk becoming too serious about it.

Let’s have lots of ideas today. This is a great way to take your imagination out for a walk.


No Sunday Poets this week, but there’s hope


BULLETIN: Considering the challenge before us — writing poems about children who are not exactly sweet and nice — I think I’ll leave this one up for another day or so. Jump in and share your own poem about the less than perfect child of your feverish imagination.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Sorry to tell you but no one shared a poem with us for today. The good news is that this gives you time to write something for next Sunday.

Hi everyone,

So what’s a post papa to do? Maybe all you poets out there are simply tired of telling children how good they are when you’ve personally met a few who are not. I say let’s take a holiday and tell it like it is! Stand up for our rights. There are some real stinkers out there and it’s time we poets let our true feelings out! I’ll go first and you, if you aren’t a fraidy cat, can follow with revelations of your own. I suspect that some of our student writers can probably tell us a few terrible tales of their own.

David L. Harrison

Ollie is a WRETCHED child
Who drives his family wild!
He pulls his puppy’s ears and tail
And laughs to hear the poor thing wail,
He pours syrup on his cat
And tells his sister, “You’re so fat!”
Oh Ollie is a DREADFUL child
Who drives his family wild!
He’ll never close the bathroom door
Or pick his stinkies off the floor
Or clean his room or make his bed
Or do a thing his daddy’s said,
Yes Ollie is a WICKED child
Who drives his family wild!
He joined the gypsies and ran away,
They brought him back the very next day,
So you’d better listen when I say,
If you see Ollie coming, pray!
Child who’ll drive you wild!

A new poetry workshop in the works

ANNOUNCEMENT: Our friend and fellow poet, Ken Slesarik, is featured in a video on Renee La Tulippe’s marvelous No Water River site, ( ) immediately following Jane Yolen’s video. Don’t miss it. We met Ken at the poetry workshop in Honesdale in 2011. He’s a gifted teacher who does wonderful things for his students, including the creation of an anthology of their poetry, POETRY ROCKS ( )

Hi everyone,

I’ve accepted Kent Brown’s invitation to return for another poetry workshop next year as part of the 2013 Highlights Founders Workshop series in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. The date is set for September 30 – October 3. Nothing is posted about the event yet but I’m told it’s okay to tell you about it now. I conducted a workshop there in 2011 and another in 2012, which was a three-way event that also featured Eileen Spinelli and Rebecca Dotlich. In 2013 I’ll go back to doing a solo workshop but look forward to having distinguished visitors join us along the way.

I haven’t written the description of my workshop yet but here’s how it read for the one in 2011. If you want to know more about these events, here’s a link.

Highlights Foundation
Somebody Ought to Write a Poem

Workshop Description

Date: September 30 – October 3, 2013

Designed For: Anyone with an interest in writing poetry, from just getting started to seasoned pro.

Maximum Capacity: TBA

From you I receive,
To you I give,
Together we share,
From this we live.
— Old Sufi song
In this workshop, as in life, we come as teachers and learners.

Group activities will include:
• Sharing favorite poems and exploring why we like them
• Reading poems with alternating voices to build teamwork and camaraderie
• Brainstorming ideas for poems using a variety of practical techniques
• Discussing what makes poetry poetry
• Arguing the pros and cons of verse and free verse
• Debating the relevance of children’s poetry
• Participating in four useful workshops on key aspects of conceiving, writing, improving, and marketing poetry

Individual activities will include time to:
• Practice writing what you’re learning
• Be still with your thoughts
• Start something new
• Have your work critiqued by your workshop leader
• Meet and chat one-on-one with your workshop leader

What we will accomplish:
• Write poems!
• Work on fundamental elements of poetry
• Send you home loaded with ways to find and develop ideas
• Make you a better poet

Reporting from Goose Lake

Hi everyone,

This is a busy time of year around Goose Lake. Lots to do before wrapping up the fall season and preparing for winter. Here are a few of my recent notes.

This morning when I went out for the paper at 8:30, I heard an unusually loud racket made by crows in the tree behind the house across the street. I walked over to stand near the tree and look up. Six crows, highly agitated, were circling around the top branches of the tree, occasionally landing briefly and taking off, their voices all raised in high pitched screams. They were clearly upset about something but I never could determine the cause. After several minutes of intense activity, they band move off into the distance and didn’t return. If they were harassing an owl, I never saw the evidence. And it’s late in the year to think they had a young bird in some kind of danger. Maybe it was a fire drill for crows.

Today was sunny. 24 American wigeons – newcomers to the lake — were swimming single file near the far bank. At 10:00 a bald eagle appeared – earlier in the season than ever before — and began diving at the wigeons. The birds dipped under the water to avoid the swooping eagle. It would fly down, skim across the water where the wigeons had just been, pull back up into a steep turn and take another dive. It repeated this behavior several times, maybe half a dozen, before flying up to a tree for a rest. In a few minutes it went on the attack a second time, with the same results. Before long the wigeons all took wing and left the area. The eagle sat there for a while before making its own departure.

This morning at 6:00 I walked through the dark house toward coffee in the kitchen without turning on a light. It’s an old habit. I’m more likely to spot wildlife in the yard when they can’t see me through the windows so I feel my way along to remain invisible. This time I spotted a lone raccoon humping quickly across the driveway from the street and down our walk toward the back yard. I lost track of it almost at once. It appeared out of the darkness and disappeared back into it in a few seconds. I just happened to be looking at the right place at the right time to see it.

Sometimes I feel like Garrison Keillor reporting on Lake Wobegon. Maybe I need to develop a spiel about the denizens of Goose Lake.

Leaving Corky

Hi everyone,

A few days ago I received the pleasant news that a poem of mine, “Leaving Corky,” is being used by Pearson Education Asia in an upcoming English language textbook in Hong Kong. The poem originally appeared in THE PURCHASE OF SMALL SECRETS, published in 1998 by Boyds Mills Press. Later on Sandy Asher included it in her play inspired by my poetry, SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK.

A few years later Boyds Mills published my autobiographical collection of poetry, CONNECTING DOTS, but SECRETS came first and held some of my strongest memories. Corky was my cat. Even as a kitten it was a scratcher of arms and biter of hands but we bonded anyway, in the way a boy can still love a pet that plays rough one minutes then rolls over for a tummy rub the next.

Corky grew up to be a tough cat. We lived outside the city in a small cottage on a farm. Corky and I had plenty of space to explore and investigate, but I did my roaming by day and he pursued his interests in the dark world of the night. As time passed, Corky fell into the habit of staying away for a day or two, then a week, if he felt like it. I always worried about him and would stand at the edge of the pasture behind our house, calling his name in my high pitched nine-year-old voice. “Corky! Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty!”

Sometimes he would come when I called. He often showed signs of a fight. He would be missing a patch of fur. His face would be slashed. He might be limping. After a few days of loafing while he healed, off he would go again.

After two winters in the little house, my dad found something better. The wind didn’t whistle in under the door or around the windows, I would have my own bedroom instead of sharing the same room with my parents, and we would have an indoor bathroom. I was thrilled. Except for one huge worry. Corky was off on another of his extended stays and I was afraid that he would come home one day soon and not know where we had gone.

Moving day arrived. We loaded our belongings into our car and made a few trips to the new house. It didn’t take many. Finally, we were ready to leave with the last load. This was it. Mom was already in the car. Dad was behind the wheel. I stood at the edge of the pasture and called for Corky. I turned in slow circles and called him in every direction. I just knew he would suddenly appear and everything would be okay. But he didn’t come. That’s what this poem is about.

David L. Harrison

I stand with the car door open.
“Corky!” I call out across the fields.
“Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty!”

“Time to go.”
Dad’s voice is quiet.

“Just one more hour,” I beg.

“He’s been gone a month already,” he says.
“Probably chewed up again.”

The car eases down the dirt drive.
I stare out the window,
leaving a mind trail,
but in my heart I know.

I’ll never see him again,
never know if he’s alive,
never be able to explain.

Leaving Corky,
I’m too sad to cry.

THE PURCHASE OF SMALL SECRETS has been out of print for years but sometimes you can find a used copy. Here’s a link to