Birds of a feather

Hi everyone,

It’s cold and food is getting scarce. Many birds are moving restlessly around the neighborhood, feeding in groups. There are suddenly robins in abundance. Juncos too. I don’t know if any of the birds are headed south but some might become part of larger flocks that fly as far as Mexico to find more agreeable weather for the winter. They’re fun to watch but these cold days I do most of my watching through the windows. I wrote a poem about the birds this time of year for THE PURCHASE OF SMALL SECRETS, published in the 1990s’.

Bright-Eyed Good-byes

tidying up
the season


choosing sides
forming teams


from treetops

at once

to the lawns
like black leaves

for snacks



of false

is the leader?

is in charge?

was the signal?

missed the vote
same as always

They’re gone!

(c) 1998 David L Harrison, all rights reserved

Going back to the river

Hi everyone,

Today I plan to add a few more paragraphs to my autobiography, a rather tedious work in progress with no end and no publisher yet in sight. Throughout my career I’ve published poems inspired by my own experiences growing up (we all do that), and on two previous occasions I’ve published collections of poems about various recollections. This one is in prose and includes much more about my life.

THE PURCHASE OF SMALL SECRETS was meant to share the musings of an introspective boy as he explored the world he lived in.

A Chip of Flint

See this?
Too thin
for an arrowhead.

Maybe a chip
from the weapon
being made
by a master craftsman,
flint in one hand
antler tip in the other,
strong wrists
a new stone point.

Did he pause
in these woods
silent	alone
or was he surrounded
by chuckling comrades
who winked at secrets
as flint chips fell?

It doesn't matter
the chip was rejected
by the arrowhead.

I accept it
as a gift
from an unknown hand.
~ (c) 1988 David L. Harrison

CONNECTING DOTS invited the reader to connect the dots of my memories to form a clearer picture of how my life was shaped to become who I am.

I’m 15. My collections now fill one room in our house. The years of field trips and chance discoveries are adding up.


Yes, that’s what you smell –
over here in my insect case.
They keep the beetles
from eating my bugs.

That musty smell?
You must mean bird wings
pinned to the wall.
Stand back some,
they’re not so bad.

A few little smells don’t bother me.
They’re worth the price
of actually owning a rattlesnake skin,
a crow’s nest,
a red fox hide I tanned myself.

I touch my treasures,
their fragrances perfume my room.
Their stories live again,
their memories sweeter.
~ (c) 2004 David L. Harrison 

So now I'm returning for a third time to the river of my life. I started the project a couple of years ago, imagining it as a play, but I decided that not even close friends and family could willingly sit through such drudgery. In the end I started over and am writing it as a sequence of moments and incidents that seem to me to have contributed to the making of a man who turned out to be a literacy advocate and writer of books and poems for young people. The journey has been long. I promise to make the book shorter. 

Cow Pie Jewels

Hi everyone,

You’ve seen this poem before. THE PURCHASE OF SMALL SECRETS was published in 1998 by Boyds Mills Press in. It is the story of a butterfly collector with a problem. It was based on me and the butterfly I wanted was a blue hair streak.

Yesterday I watered the plants outdoors and got my sandals wet. When I sat down to rest, this blue hair streak landed on a sandal to get a little bit of moisture on a hot afternoon. It brought back memories of that day when I was 12 and standing in a pasture before a smelly cow pie, net over my shoulder, horn rim glasses sliding down my sweaty nose, wondering how to swoop up the jewels.

Cow Pie Jewels

in the middle of the path
a cow patty
bigger than a dinner plate

Smelly pie
with blowfly raisins

Melting in the sun

How can your charm
these butterflies
these dainty jewels
in sky-blue tights
to dance around
such disgusting pastry?

My net at the ready
I stand
pondering how
to swoop up the jewels

And leave the pie.

(c) 1998 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved

It’s still National Poetry Month

Hi everyone,

Here’s another poem to help celebrate the month. This one appeared originally in THE PURHASE OF SMALL SECRETS and was written with SANDY’S dad, RALPH KENNON, in mind. He was an avid gardener who loved to see his family enjoying the results of his labors. The growing season is approaching and one of these days gardens large and small all over America will once again produce their treasures to grace tables of those who toil in the earth and those lucky recipients of their efforts.


fingers lingering
over wondrous gifts,
he contemplates with satisfaction
the completed act.

“Nothing beats home-grown,”
he says.
“You won’t find corn this sweet
in any store.”

Another platter,
meaty red slabs
surprisingly heavy
on white china.
“Try these tomatoes,
tell me these aren’t
the best you ever tasted.”

Sweet onions
served with garden talk,
language of the soil,
wisdom of grandfathers.

Golden ears dripping butter,
spinach wrinkly tender,
delicately green,
cauliflower better than expected,
green beans
demanding to be bragged on . . . 

“You won’t find these
in any store,” he says
to heads bobbing
over full plates.

He nods,
agreeing with himself.
I smile and think,
“Nothing beats home-grown.”

© 1998 David L. Harrison,

Another dirt poem

Hi everyone,

I keep thinking of previous dirt poems I’ve published over the years. Here’s one that appeared in THE PURCHASE OF SMALL SECRETS, a Wordsong book by Boyds Mills Press in 1998.


What creature
tilled the grass
to tunnel here?

A hole in the ground
always makes me wonder. 

Is this one empty,
choked with dirt
that trickles through the roof
and rattles down abandoned halls?

Or is something there,
heart pounding,
sniffing me
down in the dark?

A hole in the ground
always makes me wonder.

(c) 1998 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved

Meryl, who has illustrated as many books as I've written, was asked for a cover design to meet the catalog deadline. I don't think she'd seen the manuscript yet because when I saw it, I loved the picture but pointed out to my editor that the cover showed a girl and I was a boy. After some quick tweaking, the cover character turned into a boy. But waste not, want not. The original cover character, altered just enough, appeared on the last page of the finished book.