The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 1 - Page 34

Resourceful Research


as a middle school student when I fell off the back of the bandstand at a school party, still clutching my trombone. I could barely stand the thought of climbing back up and facing the crowd.


From Connecting Dots

Tonight our band performed at school,

on risers in the cafeteria,

music folders on black stands,

our first gig, professional.

My solo came, I stood tall,

pushed back my chair,

played flawlessly,

acknowledged applause,

nonchalantly took my seat,

Fell off backward, chair and all,

off the back of the top riser,

somersaulted through the air,

crash-landed behind the band.

Huge applause when I reappeared,

climbed the risers carrying my chair.

I wish I’d broken both legs.

A little sympathy is my only chance

for tomorrow.

Young people in school have almost unlimited opportunities to be embarrassed. Maybe that’s why they can be so sensitive to the plight of others. This student knew exactly what I was talking about.

“Dear Mr. Harrison, My favorite poem was the one with you falling off the risers. When you fell off the risers I bet you were embarrassed. I have embarrassing moments too.”

Another common experience is being the new kid. Whether in church, neighborhood, class, school, or community, nearly every child knows what it’s like to be on the outside feeling alone and excluded. If you’re a new kid and you’re shy, you can spend a lot of time staring at your desk or looking out the window -- anywhere to avoid making direct eye contact.


From Connecting Dots

What did you do

in school today?

I saw a boy

looking at me.

I waved,

but he looked away.

His friends ran up,

yelling and laughing.

I laughed, too,

but they looked away.

I answered wrong

in class today.

The boy laughed,

I looked away.

I know I’m reaching my audience when I receive notes like this one.

“Mr. Harrison, I’m new so I relate. That’s exactly what happened to me.”

A poet’s job is to write so that readers want to read what he has to say. I like nature. One day on a walk I stooped to examine a single hoof print pressed into a soft spot in the path. Alone in the forest silence, I felt somehow connected to the