Interview by Matt Forrest

BULLETIN: I’m pleased to appear today on Matt Forrest’s blog. Here’s the link. . Many thanks, Matt. It’s a pleasure.

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I promised an example of working a chain of words into a poem in verse. Here it is, beginning with the list:


Here’s the poem that doesn’t rhyme.

The drop hangs
from the kid’s nose
like the lip of a faucet,
glistening wet, unable
to slip off and fall.
I yearn to grab a rag
and rip it off! Instead
I sip my drink and stare,
wishing that drop would drip!

And here’s one that does.

I’m minding my business
Sipping ice tea
When I hear a loud sniff
From a kid about three.

A drop is just hanging
From the tip of his nose
Like the lip of a faucet,
Like dew on a rose.

Glistening wetly
High on his lip,
It’s wanting to fall
But unable to slip.

I look for a tissue
To rip it away,
It’s driving me crazy,
It’s ruining my day.

I reach for my beverage
And slurp a loud sip,
I can’t stand the pressure.
That drop just won’t drip!

I’m cold

Hi everyone,

I walked across the street for the paper this morning with the wind gusting and the temperature in the low 20s. Not fair. I want sympathy.
Setting up for trombone
Those of you who are possessed of a naturally nasty and cruel mind, feel free to express your sympathy, but it has to be in couplets. Go.


Thinking about feet

Hi everyone,

Yesterday we went to an indoor/outdoor event at the Springfield Art Museum. People of all ages inching around the perimeters of galleries, leaning toward paintings to read the side cards. Individuals retracing their steps to relocate their groups. Old people; middle aged people; young people; no kids. Outside, kids running barefoot through the grass. Moms in sandals pushing strollers. People sitting in chairs listening to music or walking among the artists scattered here and there. Folks of all ages spooning free frozen custard out of cardboard containers. Dogs on leashes. Babies tottering through a forest of adult legs. A stream of singers and musicians taking turns at the microphone. When we left, a five-year-old was belting out an enthusiastic rendition of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” Beautiful day.

One of my most lasting memories was of the variety of feet. Old feet and young ones. Painted nails. Swollen feet. Sunburned feet. Ankles with age spots and varicose veins. Chubby, round baby feet. Dress shoes. Tennis shoes. Open sandals. Heels. Boots. Furry paws. It’s one of those times when I wish I were an artist and could make quick sketches of all those feet.

When I get time, I’m going to write a poem about feet. Want to join in? Drop your own poem in the comment section so others can enjoy your vision.


Joy’s latest

Hi everyone,

My thanks to Joy Acey for introducing members of this fall’s poetry workshop to a fun way to introduce themselves to others in the group. I think Joy borrowed the basic idea from somewhere else and adapted it as a way to bring the group together in advance of the event itself. We’ve been asked to tell about ourselves in twelve stanzas, be they prose, free verse, or a combination.

Here’s mine as an example. I’m thinking that many of you might like to contribute your own “Life in 12 Points” poem, including those who have already exchanged them among the workshop family.

A Life in 12 Parts
David L. Harrison

Age four: I learn and recite Gettysburg Address. Months later we move to Arizona. Under our new house I fill a jar with centipedes and scorpions. My mother is not happy. I hide my toy snake in the yard and convince her it’s real. Long story. It’s a wonder I escape with my life.

I write my first poem. It’s inspired by the smell of fish frying in the kitchen while I’m banished to wait in the living room. I begin collecting things: minerals, stamps, pop bottle caps, marbles . . .

We move back home to Missouri. My first trombone at 10, lessons at 11. More collections: insects, snake skins, skulls, bird wings, arrowheads, seashells. I find a bear skull in a cave. A friend gives me a human skull with the skull cap sawed off. I add brain coral, artificial eyes, ball cap . . . A little girl visitor throws up. Not everyone loves my collections.

Summer jobs for money and brawn — mowing yards, pouring concrete, unloading cement and bricks from box cars, jack hammering through paved streets for a utilities crew, stacking concrete blocks. He-man? Heck yeah. Growl! I work in a pet shop feeding mice to cobras and cleaning the baboon’s cage; take a course in taxidermy so I can stuff the things that die at the pet shop.

First date with my future wife. I take her to watch me bowl. What? Fancy myself a good bowler; pitch softball and baseball, letter in high school, pitch legion ball. I take a writing class at Drury, learn that maybe I have a destiny. Besides, that is, my marriage, May 23, 1959 to Sandy Sue Kennon.

Degrees in science from Drury and Emory. In Atlanta, I take my pregnant wife snake hunting, catch a copperhead for our landlord’s little boy. I can’t help it. I’m a romantic.

First profession – scientist; second – editor; third – business owner. I sell my first story, 1962. Add writer as the fourth.

Our most creative and loving collaborations: Robin, 1960; Jeff, 1964.

Author at last; first book published in 1969: Boy With a Drum. Shall I quit my day job to write full time? Really? With a net writing income of $350? Really? My sweet wife says she’ll back me. I say no and feel right about it.

Begin volunteer career with service on school board, community college, public television, others. Settle into a life of promoting literacy.

An elementary school named for me! Me! Really? Yes! My 89th book comes out. Ten more in the chute.

Me: a happy, lucky, blessed man. I’m in love with life.

David on rock 5

New challenge from J. Patrick Lewis

Hi everyone,
J. Patrick Lewis
My thanks to Pat Lewis for presenting us with another of his challenges that will create a lot of good fun during the process of exercising our poetry muscles.

Pat, I want to thank you, too, for being such an outstanding United States Poet Laureate for Children. You’ve made us all proud!

Playing With Sayings

“Two heads are better than one”
Was made up by a guy named O’Brien,
An alien who lives on a planet
In the constellation Orion.

“When the cat’s away, the mice will play.”
When the mice are away, the cat will stray.
When both are away, it’s an empty house,
So come on, let’s play cat and mouse.

“Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.”
Don’t count your buttons unless they’re attached.
Don’t count your tomatoes till they turn red.
Don’t feed the piranhas in your waterbed.

“The early bird catches the worm.”
Does the poor late bird get nada?
No, the tardy bird gets take-out—
A bean beetle enchilada.

“A dog is a man’s best friend.”
You’d think that would offend
The cat who’s also a fan,
But he is a ladies’ man.

“Birds of a feather flock together”—
A warm defense against cold weather.
Birds of one mother groom each other,
Though maybe not, if they’re sister and brother.

“Look before you leap.”
Dream before you fly.
Laugh before you sleep.
Live before you die.

“Silence is golden,”
Gossip is lead,
Hubbub and uproar
Are fire-engine red.

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