Jungle thoughts

Hi everyone,

I’ve no idea why I woke up this morning thinking about the Amazon and the trip Sandy and I took there with a group many years ago. Or the book of poems that eventually came from the experience, SOUNDS OF RAIN.

The book was difficult to lay out and took forever and after all that it didn’t do well commercially. Maybe I wrote my thoughts poorly. Maybe the audience for rain forest poems was not large. I got out the book this morning and still like it and risked spending too much time sitting here with the pages open, thinking back to that trip and all it meant to me. Here’s an offering inspired by a moment when our small group toured a village perched on a mud colored clearing on the bank of the Ucayali River about 100 miles deep into the Amazon jungle of Peru.


She stands beside the path, stooped,
leaning on a crooked cane,
resting there to catch her breath
watching children play.

She nods and smiles
like on that spot
once she was the one chased.

Her face, mahogany
finely carved, deeply grained,
polished hard by sun and rain,
a portrait of the Amazon.

(c) 2006 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved
from SOUNDS OF RAIN, 2006, Boyds Mills Press

Why we take good notes

Hi everyone,

I finally found what I’ve been looking for all over the house, my notes from the trip Sandy and I took up the Amazon River in Peru in 1999, all 77 typed pages of them. I sat down at once and began flipping through pages, pausing here and there to read passages. These notes have already produced poems, a book of poetry (SOUNDS OF RAIN) and an unpublished middle grade novel (DOWNRIVER). I’m getting ready to write a text about the Amazon for a new book, which is why I’ve been looking for the notes. One night a few of us went in a flat bottom boat with our guide Edgard to look for caimans. Here’s an excerpt.

The motor is silenced.
We drift in among floating plants, all faces forward as Edgard leans out over the water with his Cyclops eye of light.
Two feet from the boat something unseen slaps the water and submerges. Caiman? Edgard’s back shows his disappointment. The thing we came to watch escapes with its mystery intact.
It’s drizzling as we reverse from the tangle of plants and continue.
“I want you to listen,” Edgard tell us.
The driver kills the motor and Edgard snaps off the light.
We drift on the current beneath a starless heaven, suddenly aware of the throbbing night sounds from the banks and the jungle beyond. The night belongs to frogs.
For once we do not pester Edgard for identifications. It would be like whispering in church.

I worked hard at taking notes throughout each day of the trip, and it was another job to transcribe them all from field notebooks to typed notes. Of course they’re on the computer somewhere, but I haven’t been able to locate them. That’s why god made paper so we can print them and save them somewhere in the house, easily available after days of looking. Anyway, my point is that I love good notes. They are worth every second we put into making (and keeping) them!