…with The Young Writers Guild of Prince of Wales Island today….

I introduced (corrupted?) the youth to Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die this morning. They took to it like fish to … you know. The result? One of the young writers and I sat down and tag-teamed this on Write or Die. It took about 20 minutes total and was lots of fun. I love writing with these kids. They’re fresh and funny and their stream of consciousness writing is always surprising and a delight. The following is by Mary The Bold and (as she named me) Mrs. Marshall the Kind and Awesome. What better praise can you get in your life than that? The story’s a little trippy and mind bending, but it sure was fun to write!
“It was a poofy little marshmallow that started the whole thing. I didn’t intentionally sneak into Charlie Brown’s house and shove a marshmallow in his throat. I was just sleepwalking. Snoopy will back me up on this. You know how he’s usually up there on his doghouse snoozing away….or writing something? Well, tonight was different. He was asleep at the foot of Charlie Brown’s bed when I came in. He looked up and looked at me all (0.o) and I figured he knew I was sleepwalking… I guess… ’cause I was asleep, you know? I mean, I think that’s what he must have been looking at me like that ’cause that’s how I would look at someone who was sleepwalking into my room… you know?”
“No, ma’am, I don’t know. And I was wondering how you got to Mr. Charlie Brown’s house and back to your house in one night when it would take you five hours to drive to his house, if you could drive.”
“That, officer, is one of life’s great mysteries.”
The policeman continued to gaze impassively at me. “Mysteries…,” he muttered with a shake of his head as he flipped open his notebook and began to scribble.
“Um…yes,” I replied, my voice a little nervous now as I shifted from foot to foot. “You know, mysteries … like Murder She Wrote–” I stopped.
The policeman raised an eyebrow. “Murder?” he started.
“It’s a..,” I hesitated, looking around wildly for the right word, which was hiding under a nearby bush and poked its head out tentatively. “Metaphor!”
“Nice save,” the word muttered and slid back under the bush.
“Metaphor,” he continued, clicking his pen open and closed. “Sounds like a 7th grade English word…”
“Yes!” I agreed. “Gotta love Middle School English class!” I tried to smile. It quickly faltered…
“I’m afraid we need to take you in for court martialling. Martialing. That word must have been used in seventh grade too…”
“Yes!” I cried immediately. “Yes, it was! BUT I SWEAR IT WASN’T ME! I DIDN’T MURDER CHARLIE BROWN!” The officer looked calmly at me.
“I’ve never talked to a crazed brown cow before.” Yes, I was a brown cow.
Two days later in court:
“It was my cousin Bill!”
The prosecutor sighed profoundly. “You don’t HAVE a cousin Bill,” he replied.
“Oh,” I muttered, looking away. “I forgot about that. I meant my cousin William!”
The prosecutor sighed again and rubbed at his eyes. “Crazed brown cows don’t have cousins…”
“Oh,” I muttered. I chewed on my lip…or a cud…sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between the two.
“Well?” he wondered finally.
I blinked. “Well… do I have Aunties?”
“Dang,” I muttered again, still chewing. “Uncles?” I ventured hopefully.
“No relations,” he replied coldly.
“Well, that’s sad,” I replied, and pulled out the big guns. I fixed the largest, brownest, saddest cow-eyes EVER at the jury. “I don’t have anyone in the world..,” I started sadly.
I could see tears in the eyes of the jurors.
“What are you doing?!” The prosecutor demanded.
“No one in the world,” I sniffled. “Isn’t that sad?”
“Stop it!” he demanded.
“NOT GUILTY!” The jurors cried.
“Case dismissed!” the judge sobbed….
“HOLD ON!” A large hooded figure burst into the hall. “If it’s a murder that’s recent, no one has joined me in a while.” Suddenly, all eyes were turned toward me.
“ALL RIGHT!” I sobbed, finaly cracking under the pressure. “I KIDNAPPED CHARLIE BROWN! I WANTED HIS PLACE ON THE BASEBALL TEAM!” The Judge stared at me hard.
“So we know why. But the question is how.” He paused “How now, brown cow?”

…with the Young Poets Society of Prince of Wales Island…

I’m not a poet. Seriously. I realize that about myself, and it’s always nice to have these realizations about oneself. Still, the knowledge that I will never be Byron or Shelley or Keats does not deter me from venturing into the valley of poetry and attempting to craft some such thing as a haiku or worse. The epic-ness of my failure in the realms of poetry came at the hands, last May, of NEPOMo: National Epic Poem Month. This insanity is similar to NaNoWriMo and ScriptFrenzy in that would-be, or wannabe, poets commit themselves to penning 5,000 lines of Epic Poetry…. In a month. I had the most epic of Alaskan topics: The Iditarod. How could one NOT write 5,000 awe-inspiring words about The Last Great Race? Well… 742 lines in to NEPOMo (in the style of Robert Service because, let’s face it, he’s awesome!), I realized that a poet … I’m NOT. Maybe someday I’ll finish the poem, but I doubt anyone in the world would want to share in the reading of it.

It’s been a strange summer here on Prince of Wales Island off the coast of Southeast Alaska. Days of blistering sun and dusty wind has given way to days of pounding rain and salt-stinging gales. It’s been a summer of extremes all the way around. Last Monday, it was 45°F and raining sideways in 30 mph winds… today, 76°F of withering heat and barely a breath of wind…until it turned in from the west, and that’s never good. So, on a rainy Tuesday last, my Young Poet’s Group diminished to one. But that was all right, because sitting with just one person discussing imagery and meter, how words evoke emotions and how some poets strive to relate a sense of place …all of that is a wonderful thing to do; especially when the poet is 11 … I wasn’t kidding when I called it The Young Poets Society…

So, we had some fun. We set two challenges for each other. The first was to craft a 10 line poem on ANY subject, but we had to keep count of syllables … like a haiku … on steroids. The pattern was: 10, 6, 9, 7, 8, 8, 7, 9, 6, 10. Get it? The odd-numbered lines descend from 10 to 6, while the even-numbered lines ascend from 6-10. Pick a subject. Any subject. Mine was Prince of Wales Island…

Prince of

Wild cedars reaching out for light and warmth

Cloud-shrouded slopes loom up

Salmon race home in fast-flowing streams

Whales play amid the herring

Northern Lights ripple through night skies

Meteors rain among the stars.

River banks in winter snows

White-clad silent, as the bears who dream

Of berries sweet and tart

Of fishing streams between the hooks of men.

The second challenge we set was simply a poem about Epic-ness (after I had described my abysmal result during National Epic Poem Month). Rhyming couplets to make a poem, what is epic-ness? Well … I have this cat named Snickers….


My cat snickers is an awesome cat.

Some would use the word “epic” to describe that –

She tears around and bats at flies

From spiders she never, ever shies

She loves to merely sit and stare

And make me wonder…What’s lurking there?

Green eyes widen in alarm

I swear there’s something to cause harm –


I turn, but nothing’s there—

But still the cat will sit and stare….

As if her gaze keeps “IT” at bay

And saves me yet again today…