A brief series of favorite poems and their histories, #12

Hi everyone,

Here’s #12, the final poem in the brief series of favorite poems. I hope you’ve enjoyed them. If anything I think they demonstrate that my interests and moods vary and my poems go where they go.

This poem is from CRAWLY SCHOOL FOR BUGS, Boyds Mills Press, 2018. The book was chosen to represent Missouri at the 2018 National Book Fair in Washington D.C., which is attended by approximately 200,000 visitors. NCTE also selected the book as a Notable Book of Poetry for 2019. By invitation I will be at NCTE in Baltimore in November to serve on the panel that presents the winners and will read some of my poems to the audience.

Horsefly Grade Card:
Doesn’t Play Well with Others

In my heart
I know, of course,
it isn’t nice
to bite a horse.

They’ve tried to teach me
gentleness,
but after school,
as you can guess,

Even though I feel remorse,
I must go out
and bite a horse.

(c) 2018 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved
from CRAWLY SCHOOL FOR BUGS
reprinted by permission

A brief series of favorite poems and their histories, #11

Hi everyone,

Here’s #11 in the series of favorite poems. One more after this.

This one came from A PLACE TO START A FAMILY, Charlesbridge, 2018. National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) chose the book for its list of Outstanding Science Trade Books of the year and Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) chose it for their Young Reader’s Choice Awards Program Master List, 2019 – 2020.

Yellow Garden Spider

You throw a line of silken thread
and let it flutter where it will
to catch on limb or windowsill,
then use your ancient weaver’s skill
to make it hold you when you tread.

Back and forth you bridge the gap,
spinning out the thread to sew,
crafting in the dark you go,
putting on your magic show,
creating your artistic trap.

Now it’s done and now you wait
till fragile moth or careless fly
has bad luck to blunder by
so you can greet it eye to eye
and at your leisure seal its fate.

And when the tiny eggs you guard
hatch, as baby spiders must,
spiderlings the size of dust
sail away on gentle gust
to seek their fates across the yard.

(c) 2018 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved
from A PLACE TO START A FAMILY
reprinted by permission

A brief series of favorite poems and their histories, #10

Hi everyone,

Here’s #10 in the series of favorite poems. After this one I’ll post two more.

Appeared in the collection, NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T, Charlesbridge, 2016. The book was selected by National Council for Teachers of English as a Notable Book of Poems and by Society of Midland Authors as the best nonfiction children’s book of the year.

Dear Mr. Vole:

Find me,
If you can,
My sssskin
Deceivessss,
Helpssss me
Dissssappear
Among thesssse
leavessss.

Find me,
If you can,
On dappled
Sssstonessss,
Lounging by
Thissss pile of
Tiny
Bonessss.

Find me,
If you can,
Atop thissss
Ledge,
A broken
Sssstick,
A branch
Along thissss
Edge.

Find me,
If you can,
For if you
Don’t,
I’ll be here
Tomorrow . . .
You
Won’t.

Ssssincerely,
Mr. Copperhead

(c) 2016 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved
from NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T
reprinted by permission

A brief series of favorite poems and their histories, #9

Hi everyone,

Here’s #9 in the list of my favorite poems.

“The Bunkhouse” appeared in COWBOYS, VOICES IN THE WESTERN WIND, Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, 2012. The book was on South Dakota Children’s Book Awards reading list (2014-15) and nominated for Texas Bluebonnet Award (2012), Cybils Award (2012), and the Spur Award (2012).

The Bunkhouse
Reckon this place could use a cleanin’.
Some boys hang their clothes on the floor
so they can’t fall off nuthin’
and I’ve seen more’n one jaw of juice
fail to make it plum out the door.

The walls are purty good,
got mostly recent papers pasted on.
Helps keep out snow in winter
while we catch up on the latest news.

Mighty warm in summer though.
Good part is
the snakes eat the rats
but the stink’ll make your eyes water some.

It’s nice to have a bunkhouse
in case you’re partial to smellin’ sweat,
boots trackin’ cow manure,
and lamps burnin’ skunk fat oil.

Don’t much care for sleepin’ in.
Bugs gnaw plugs right outta your hide.
Reckon that’s why I spread my roll outdoors.

A brief series of favorite poems and their histories, #8

Hi everyone,

Here’s #8 on the list of my favorite poems.

This is the opening poem in PIRATES, Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, 2008. The title was chosen to represent Missouri at the National Book Fair in Washington D.C., 2013. It was a NCTE Notable Book of Poetry, on the Texas Bluebonnet Master Reading List (2011-2012) as well as Kansas State Reading Circle List (2009) and Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award Master Reading List (2011-2012).

PIRATE NEST

Times were hard for some men.
They slept in places
roaches would snub,
ate when they were able,
drank what they could.

The waterfront teamed
with men like that,
living life on the bottom rung,
neither giving
nor expecting mercy.

Tomorrow would be
like yesterday —
rotten teeth, rat bites,
odd jobs loading ships,
stealing a coin now and then.

Men like that nursed
their bruises with their beer,
brooded, plotted revenge on life,
decided that dying as a pirate
was better than living like this.

(c) 2008 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved