Goose Lake is so ugly…

Hi everyone,

The surface of Goose Lake is currently pocked with patches of scum. Maybe the lake is turning and this will resolve itself before long. It’s not the first time we’ve gone through this.

On one occasion several years ago I wrote a few couplet about how ugly our lake was and invited others to post their own “Goose Lake, you are so ugly…” couplets. It must have worked because the lake changed back into its usual beautiful self shortly afterward. I’ll go first.

Goose Lake's  acne,
is enough to gag me. 

All your guck-muck
makes me upchuck.

What's the source of all this goop?
Goose Lake, tell me it's not poop!

Rash? Shingles? Allergy? Hives?
Fish are leaping for their lives. 

Your turn. I hope you’ll help me lake-shame. It sounds mean, but I call it tough love. Thanks!

Should I write another one anyway?

Hi everyone,

Do I dare write another collection of poems about Goose Lake? The first time, in 2011, I had editors tell me they loved the poems and would buy the book for themselves if I got it published, but because the subject was about a specific small lake in the Midwest, they couldn’t take it. That’s why I eventually paid to have it illustrated and placed on Amazon as GOOSE LAKE, A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF A LAKE.

Reviewers liked GOOSE LAKE. Comments included: “My third graders BEG to hear another GOOSE LAKE poem. They feel that they are mysteries to unravel. All the figurative language provides perfect puzzles for my third graders to ponder. I often find them using the same language to describe what they see in our outdoor classroom.” “My book club recently read Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, and now we’re reading Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac. Both men were born observers and saw the interactions between nature and man. Now I’m placing David Harrison in a place of honor with these naturalists. David observes and translates his observations into lyrical poetry, personifying the geese and the skunk and even the fog.” “David Harrison has written a brilliant collection of poems for young people and adults alike. His views and observations about the nature in his backyard are unlike most poetry books; he lets us into his home and shares his unique outlook on a most interesting cast of characters.”

Financially, the e-book never got off the ground. I’ve made less than $300 in twelve years. But the lake still plays an important role in my life and I never cease to be delighted by the sights and sounds in, around, and above the 10-acre pond (we call it a lake) that laps against our back yard. I must write about it again, but this time, only you and I will know that the star of the show is a nameless little lake in Southwest Missouri that I personally love as Goose Lake.

The royalty of Goose Lake

Hi everyone,

The other night we were outside at dusk when the pair of swans that has taken up residency on Goose Lake sailed across the water to pay us a visit.

We stopped what we were doing to acknowledge their royal presence, hardly surprised to note that they had two heads and necks. We spoke in whispers and I hoped they wouldn’t be offended when I took their picture. Then, as though to demonstrate how low we rank on their social scale, they mooned us.

Black birds of happiness

Hi everyone,

Thanks to all who have listened to the JOE PIZZO interview, Part 1. I’m happy to tell you that Part 2 has now been posted so they’re both available on the same link: My thanks again to Joe and to TIM RASINSKI for recommending me to him.

Onto other matters. Crows have been around this morning, moving silently in a small band, probably a family unit, occasionally muttering about one thing or another. They reminded me of a poem I wrote some time ago about my boyhood relationship with crows.


I used to try to kill crows.
I’d lean my Schwinn against a tree
and crawl through weedy fields,
cradling my Red Ryder BB gun,
dreaming of a set of crow wings
mounted on my bedroom wall.

The crows, looking unconcerned,
flapped off to distant hideouts
chuckling over little boys with ticks
crawling up their shoes.

Being acknowledged by something
so regal made my failures
feel like success.

I think crows have forgiven me.
When I went out for the paper this
morning, three crows in the yard
glanced me over but didn’t feel
inclined to fly. Perhaps they don’t
recognize me without my Red Ryder.

Crows own the trees in our yard;
strut on the roof; intimidate cats.
Somewhere down the block they attend
crow conferences. Keynote speakers 
respond with raucous humor
to questions from the audience.

Crow choruses and barbershop quartets
remind me of Schwinn days and dreams
sprouting like weeds when laughing crows
were the black birds of happiness.

(c) 2002 David L Harrison, all rights reserved 

A lesson in bad writing

Hi everyone,

I’ll use yesterday’s post as an example of bad writing or, more accurately, shoddy preparation. I showed you pictures of small red berries that grow in our grass every year. I finally looked them up but only one source. The picture I saw looked like the berries in our yard, and I found them by asking online for “small, wild strawberries.” The pictures matched so I got on with my post.

Later I heard from my friend and colleague, SANDY ASHER, who sent a video about a similar looking berry commonly known as the mock berry or snake berry. The narrator explained that these two plants are very different but, fortunately, the snake berry is harmless though rather tasteless. I went back to my post and added the correction.

JANINE CLARK-BARRY warned me to be cautious about what I put in my mouth because some little red berries can be hard on the digestive track. Still later, JEFF HARRISON dug more deeply into the matter and showed me that not all snake berries are safe to eat and some are rather toxic.

This morning I spent a little more time and read about the five basic kinds of mock or snake berries. The bad ones don’t look like strawberries. They are smooth and not necessarily red. So the one in my yard is a harmless snake berry. SANDY HARRISON, the adventurous one in our group, bit into one yesterday and spit it out because she didn’t like the taste, but it wasn’t poisonous. There are ways to tell the difference between wild strawberries and these harmless mock berries. The real thing droops on the plant, the fake one sticks up. The blossoms are white on the real thing, yellow on the mock one Meanwhile, others who commented on my picture recounted how they ate and enjoyed these little red berries — presumably the true strawberry kind — when they were kids growing up in various parts of the country.

This is a good example of how a careless writer can lead his readers astray. Never, never, never take anything for granted and report on it as though you had checked into it when you haven’t. This was “only” a blog post and some mornings I am in a hurry to move into my day. But it’s not an acceptable excuse. I apologize.