All Write: Circles of Community Online


Over the past few weeks, we have entered a new realm of normal filled with many challenges. This blog post serves to honor those young writers who have risen to the challenge of staying healthy at home while also staying creative at home and inspiring at home—and, yes, courageous at home as they traveled through their imaginations, inventing new worlds and novel ideas about our world.

During the weeks of March 23-April 3, 2020, hundreds of young writers gathered in small workshop groups to read, write, and share what they were creating on the page. Despite the restrictions of working online, these writers remained fearless in their commitment to creation. They wrote poems, short stories, and interpretations of strange symbols! They painted watercolor with language! They wrote odes to their dogs! The dove deep into dreams! They made friends with merpeople! They transported fairytales into reality! They wrote lyrically and declared—here’s where I’m from!

These young writers shared their work with one another, but they also shared their laughter, their smiles, their virtual backgrounds, and their hopes for the future. Their voices echoed across the Wi-Fi and broadband cables—and here is where the magic really happened. These young writers transformed the square of a screen into a circle of community. They now invite you into that circle to join in a celebration of all things.

The pieces below prove that despite storms rumbling heavy above us, there is a deep joy ringing underneath. Welcome to that joy.

Kate Kelly
Programs Manager
The Library Foundation


I am From

I am from red and white diner booths in my homey kitchen, from cats dozing on the couch, and a cabinet full of fragile teacups.
I am from the small, cozy cottage of a sort of watered-down green color.
I am from a city that has bright blue skies and barely ever snows. I
am from the rosemary and chives that line my stone sidewalk, and the beautiful trees swaying all around.
I am from an amazing neighborhood in which all of your neighbors know you and always say hello when you pass by.
I am from the shouts and praises of the nearby people spectating soccer matches, and from the burnt orange flags lined up neatly next to the Texas ones at the basketball stadium.
I am from a hot summer sun beating down on my back, and cold watermelon slushies that my family and I make every year.
I am from my church family singing and laughing while we swim and kayak on the Frio River.
I am from lots of playdates and family gatherings, but most of all, I am from the smiles of all of the people that care and love me.

Ruby Airhart
5th + 6th grade Workshop


The Ways of Basketball

Hands up, bottom down,
Hear the squeaky shoes all around.
Eyes focused on the dribbling opponent,
Defense, defense you’ve got to own it.

Fast paced pounding down the court,
Running sprints, this is my kind of sport.
Zinging the ball left and right,
We can do this, we can fight.

Ruby Airhart
5th + 6th grade Workshop


Dr. Seussland

Snow clings to the trees,
Ice to the tall grass and leaves,
A new world is created as the sun winks off of the ice,
A land of Dr. Seuss trees,
A land of diamond Truffula trees.

Breath in the cold crisp air,
Winds wrap around children and run around with them,
They jump and skip,
Laugh and fall,
They desperately grab at the necks of children,
The wind just wants to be a part of the joy,
It just wants to run up and hug the child that is sitting in the snowdrift under the tall white trees.

The snow falls like so many unique skydivers,
Each flake its own little world of magic,
Each flake its own person,
This one, well, she is an energetic social butterfly,
A second is a bully knocking into every other flake disrupting their path to the crunching floor,
Another one an introvert trying to stay away from every other one,
A fourth one, he is just looking for a friend,
And a fifth who is just believing that the universe will bring her where she should go.

Each snow-covered cattail like a single mini whiteTruffula tree,
Each bent tree like the Cat in the Hat’s hat reaching down to tap you on the head,
And sometimes when the wind rustles through the trees a lump of snow does tap you on the head.

The waves of the lake crash against the cement walls,
Each wave a smaller kid being crashed in the lockers by a bully,
Each wave the bass drummer just wanting to be heard in the marching band,
Each wave bringing a frothy white cloud,
And when you look around you are surrounded by the genius of Dr. Seuss and are welcomed into the magical wintery Dr. Seussland.

Conor McClellan
High School Workshop


Fall: poem and watercolor 

Bronson's poemThe laughing
dressed up in their
carnival clothes

their leaves
about the earthy hues of the
they are proud
strung along the trees’

as the festivities
the fresh air
of the earth’s aroma
the smell of
h o m e

Bronson Wang
7th + 8th grade Workshop


Black and White

Black and White
Dark and Light
Sure to help you
See gray as a sight

Black marker on a paper
Fingers running across the keyboard
Pandas whisper like water vapor
And Yin and Yang where we are heading toward

Josephine Wang
3rd + 4th grade Workshop



Red, hot, a fiery sea
Eating the grass, and all it sees
It screams out loud and ashes up the air
It bursts and pounds just to scare

But sometimes it’s nice, even if it is hard to believe
It doesn’t erupt or perish, just somewhere in between
It is sleeping, it is resting from the anger it shows
But again, one day it will scream and throw

Josephine Wang
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


The Mountain Girl

The mountain tells us when bandits are here
It shakes and rumbles when trouble is near
We pull out our mallets, our hammers, and our swords
And they see us as roses with our sharp needle thorns

Other times we are happy, working in the quarry
We smile and we laugh for nothing else is so merry
There is nothing we fear as long as our mountain is here
We are birds flying high in the sky

Even though lowlanders have more land
Even though we can never go to the beach to see sand
The mountain is our home
The only place to play and roam

Josephine Wang
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


This Way or That Way: an exploration of symbols


The arrows represent everybody in the world. As you notice, all the arrows are different in colors, patterns, and sizes but they are still all arrows just like all humans are humans but not all humans are exactly the same. Even identical twins are not the exact same. The arrows are all pointing into different directions like people’s interests may vary or people might just have a totally different background than others.

Valerie Wang
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


If I Were in a Picture of Arrows

I am bold
She is yellow
He is blue
They are dotted
Her structure is quite full of lines
The unique one over there is dotted and lined

Why am I stuck here in a museum next to the useless brass
Why am I just sitting here in melancholy
Blankly pressing my rounded tip against the glass
Why are we even here if we don’t make the visitors any more jolly
This museum doesn’t take out the trash
So they are always leaving us to smell the horrifying stench
And you know what? They still pay their workers with cash
Outside our window there is a little bench
Where I always wish to be
I wonder if I will ever get out there,
To the world of wonders
It is always either this way or that way

Valerie Wang
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


Ode to Banjo

Banjo is a little bundle of joy,
But he is also loud.
He wakes everyone with his barks
Of the mighty West Highland White Terrier.
The dog has a little wet nose and tongue to kiss us with.
The mighty dog has a big look so we are scared of him.
But who would be scared of a little white puppy named Banjo?
The fuzzy little dog has a little fear over the fearless ant!

Lucas Xu
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


The Dream Catcher

Late at night, when almost
nothing is in sight, when your
eyelids flutter, when dreams
Are like a memory you’ve always
Known. When nightmares become visible,
When you seem to know nothing
But dreadful places or harmony.
When you know that your
Dream time is going out.
Your dream time going to
An end no one wants.
Your smile is a frown,
And your eyes squeeze shut
Even tighter and when you realize
That a dark shadow is hovering
Over you. The Dream Catcher
Itself it swoops down from above
And catches your miraculous
Dream with a laugh and a
Shout and possibly a cackle,
As it sashays
Away into another house—
Into another dream.
You’re wide awake now,
Eyes wide, mouth open
But the Dream Catcher is in its new
House. Dream Catcher sleeps
In your attic/basement
Curled up in a shadow,
Grinning to itself under
Your old shelf or your
Sister’s old toys. He curls in
A ball in a dark corner full of
Cobwebs, dust, and spider webs.
There the Dream Catcher is
In your very own basement,
Frowning and squeezing its
Eyes shut even tighter
And realizing that his time
In his miraculous dream is over,
When he realizes that a
Shadow is hovering over him,
When he hears a shrill cackle or a
Laugh from up above,
Then he sits up, eyes wide
Mouth open.

Angelica Xu
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


The Curious Mermaid

          —after Matthea Harvey’s “The Backyard Mermaid”

Adrianna was a curious mermaid. She realized that someone or something was up in another world up there, possibly the world her parents have been warning her about—Human World.

Human World is a terrible world where humans make fools of themselves.

She told her relatives and everyone that lived in the mermaid area, but they gawked at her or with a swat of a hand, replied, “Honey, all this-nonsense! Maybe the talks you’ve been in have addled your brain, dear. You need a hobby. You know that?”

Then they would swim away or turn their eyes back to the magazine they’d been reading or turn their backs and continue the chat they had going on. Adrianna didn’t care one bit, for she would swim away with a sway.

One day she’d had enough—not of the excitement on the surface—but enough of the swatting hands and the ignorance people have been giving her. She swam up to the surface persistently and knocked hard on the surface, over the noise of girls giggling and laughing and jumping.

Knock! Knock! Knock! Knock!

Adrianna’s knocking startled the girls and everything went quiet up above.

You could hear a pin drop. Adrianna knew it! Things were up there.

“What the heck is down there? A witch?! I am so scared! Ha, Ha!! Right girls??”

A harsh sound of flip-flops echoed throughout the deck. “Girls? everything okay? You’re so quiet!! Avery has never had a quieter birthday party. Oh-a-ha!!”

“Mom!!!! Ugh!! Stop now!! I have had a quieter party!” the girl named Avery said.

For some reason, I broke the surface and hid my tail swiftly.

“What the heck?!” the girl who asked the same question earlier, Darby, says.

“What is this creature?! Definitely not human. We don’t swim underneath the pool. If you are human, I’m asking, how did you get down here?”

Ugh. I hope it’s clear enough for her to see that I’m a mermaid. Though, truth be told, I never intended to show her my delicate appearances. Adrianna thought to herself.

Adrianna never needed to hide her appearance, well, mostly because she’d never faced the challenge of humans before. But she hid her tail under a seeking turtle, which very un-helpfully swam away to reveal the appearance of a tail.

“OMG!! She is a-a-a mermaid!!! Really, you guys, come look, guys!! She has a tail!!”

“Ugh, she has a tail, big deal. Who cares? Come on, guys. I’ve got a new collection of toys to show you.”

Adrianna clabbered her way down. Unfortunately clabbering down cannot be done unless you stick your tail up in the air, about just in human eyesight.

Adrianna disappeared in a broad vail of seaweed coral, along with fish. She didn’t want to end up like in those stories Pa told her: a little girl gets put in a net by humans, they took her life because they wanted her tail. She was a mermaid, and this rumor is very famous according to mermaid folk.

A bird named Cannadrien, Avery’s pet, swoops down from the nest above and plucks out some of Adrianna’s wet hair.

And from that day on, whenever Adrianna peeks at Human World, Cannadrien swoops down from her nest to examine Adrianna and her hair, possessions, and items.

Angelica Xu
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


Good Morning!

Once when I got out of bed
My head was very red.
“I don’t know why” I said.
So I got out on the floor
Then walked and closed the door. Then
I walked on my feet
I was ready to eat.
I was gonna get some food
Cause I was really in the mood.
I pulled some cake
But It was fake, and it was gonna take a while to make.
So I got some tea
It was right for me.
Then I had some pea porridge that was 500 years old—
It was very very cold. Then I turned on the light
It was very very bright
Like a bright bright flight.
Then I watched my TV.
I found a show that’s right for me.
It was about a bear, and he had long hair
But I didn’t care. It was about bears.
But who cares?
I flipped the channel to see a car driving near
A tree. It was a documentary. They had a car and it was at night under a big bright star.
My TV was very fun
And now I’m done!

Nolan Benestante
High School Workshop


Clean That Room!

If I didn’t clean my room
It would be such a mess.
My stuff would block my dresser,
so I could not dress!!!

My toys would pile up on my bed,
so I could not sleep,
And to get to my bookshelf,
I would have to leap!!!

Then when I opened the door,
my stuff would come out.
Into the hallway through the house,
then my family would start to pout!!!

Out the door,
onto the street.
Aren’t you glad you kept your room neat??

Calla Snyder
3rd + 4th grade Workshop


The Photographer

Everyone has a story. Whether it’s about mermaids or dinosaurs. Elephants or zebras. Well, you get the point. My story though is fiction. You’d think at least.

“Sarah! Wake up it’s your first photoshoot!” my mom hollers.I’m already up, but I give her some slack anyway. To be honest, I don’t want to do this photoshoot. But, my mom is really looking forward to this so I guess I’ll try. My family has a reputation for photography, and I don’t want to let them down.

“Coming!” I yell back.

I see my dad and mom sitting at the table waiting for me.

“Hungry?” my dad asks.

“No. I already ate an hour ago before you were up.” I answer. He nods back and my mom smiles.

“Oh, my baby is all grown up!” she squeals as she squeezes me tight.

“Let’s just go. We don’t want to be late.” I say.

About half an hour later we arrived at a beach.

“A beach?”

“Your clients wanted their photograph in the ocean because it makes it easier for them,” my mom smiles.

“We packed a swimsuit in the trunk if you’d like,” my dad says as he rubs my back.

“This is not what I expected,” I mutter to myself and carry the swimsuit from the trunk before walking toward the public bathroom.

I take my shoes off and dig my feet in the grindy sand. The warm sand takes over my cold feet, and I feel wind blow my short dirty blond hair in my face. I walk into the water. I think my camera is waterproof, but I don’t overthink it. My red bathing suit with white polka dots gets soaked and a cold shiver runs through me.

I’m in shock. I must be seeing things, but I see mermaids with tools instead of tails. Tool Mermaids. Of course. They’re known for attacking tourists at the beach and fisherman. They tell us that for some reason Tool Mermaids have a tradition of getting their picture taken once they turn eighteen. I do my best to proceed with the process just as I’d do if I was doing this with a human.

The lady has a saw for her tail, her hair up in a ponytail, and some hair next to her face.

After the photoshoot my mom and dad help me edit the pictures, and we have a nice lunch together as a family. Like I said, my story seems fiction. But that’s up to you to decide.

Autumn Wallace
5th + 6th grade Workshop


All Around Me

I see a tree elegantly swinging its leaves in the motion of the wind with a lilac-colored purple flower that seems to have bloomed in the early Spring in the shape of grapes.

I see my dog Levi chasing after a dog toy that looks almost like a football with his ears flapping in the wind.

To the right of me, I see my younger brother trying to scrape the leaves out of the pool, making the job more difficult and rougher than it already is.

I see little bubblers in the pool causing ruffles ruffling across the shore of the pool.

I see that now my brother has put his hands behind his back, making Levi sit and making weird, funny, and stern faces at Levi.

In the pool, I see a white black and blue cleaning machine we call Shark Dog cleaning the surface and sides of the pool.

To the left of me, I see an oak tree growing a bright green moss and dropping saplings that will soon also be oak trees.

In the distance, I can see foggy wide hills flooded with trees, lights, and houses. Even further on the second hill, the sky looks slanted and the top of the hill is touching the sky.

Next door, I can see our neighbor’s back yard with bright green oak trees and some flowers.  There are also bird feeders hanging from the trees and beautiful flowers blooming in every color.

I see swings on the playground still swinging from whoever was last on them, giving the effect as if someone is on them.

Autumn Wallace
5th + 6th grade Workshop

Writing as a Portal: Barbara Jordan Elementary’s Young Authors


Over the last four weeks, some of Barbara Jordan Elementary School’s most creative writers have been bravely expanding their imaginative horizons. Their challenge? To make the familiar world seem completely new and beautiful, or to bring a totally unfamiliar world vividly to life. Through a series of writing exercises, they’ve embraced this creative mission and produced some wonderfully wacky, musical, and spine-tinglingly creepy poems and stories.

These writers, for instance, have studied metaphor, and suddenly that thing perched atop the lamp in the classroom became not a lampshade but a soup bowl. The sound of rain became a knock on the door or fingers tapping. They’ve studied alliteration and repetition, and everything from pets to chips to video games came alive with poetic possibilities. And they’ve read descriptions of amazing islands (both real and imaginary) and pushed themselves to invent magical worlds of their own. Prepare yourself for friendly and human-like animals, teleportation scissors, underwater castles, a chocolate pool, and a well-dressed skeleton with a bottle of ketchup.

So dive in and experience the work of these up-and-coming young writers with fearless imaginations!

Noah Weisz
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


How It Sounds

When it rains it sounds like
water and underwater and
someone knocking.

The river sounds like
it’s about to rain
and when it rains hard
it sounds like a storm.

Kimberly Puertas


Creative Writing

I did a backflip.

I do hip-hop.

I got a makeup kit.

I love chips.

I did a backflip, I do hip-hop.
I got a makeup kit. I love

Madison Rogers




Andrea Cordova


La Lluvia

se escucha como
los sonidos de la boca
como    sss   ssss
sss      ss
ss     y
se escucha como los
dedos pegan suavamente

A. C.


My Island

My island is in the sky on the clouds. It’s pink with burgers that have long legs and trolls that have tattoos and the forest. The forest, it’s the screamer forest! Anyone that dared to go here came. There’s thick fog and mud, rats, ravens, and the eye.

You’re probably wondering, What is this eye? The eye can see the future and then disappears in the fog. It doesn’t say anything, it just blinks and looks at you.

But back on the pink clouds 😊 it’s like the normal world just on clouds but magic, dark magic, helpful magic, wizards, fairies. Somehow there is water that floats. Dimensional scissors teleport to a new dimension. That is all I know from this place, but I’ll keep looking.

Edgar Jimenez-Urbano



Ninja Legends
Call of Duty

Malachi Fruge


The Island

It was a sunny Sunday, and I landed on an island called Green Hill. And there are animals that talk. They stand on two feet. And they wear clothes.

E. A.


What Does a Cat Do?

meow cat
sleep growl milk
cat sleep meow
whiskers growl meow
growl sleep milk

U. C. O.


Comparing the Real World and an Island

When I landed on the island it was half-day and half-night. People and animals. Everything from the real world that was big on the island was small, and everything from the real world that was small on the island was big.

It was an island that was very nice. The animals were very friendly. And everything was cool. There was a portal.

Ximena Segura


The Mysterious Island

When I arrived I saw the island that was never seen and rare…So when I saw it, it was full of trees and fog, blood was on the trees and ground…I saw some people but they were wearing hoodies full of blood standing still…The animals had red eyes with sharp claws…It was raining…When I looked back my ship was gone…I didn’t know what to do, the animals and people got closer when I wasn’t looking.

I forgot to mention that it sounds like claws scraping a metal wall…and it smells like blood.  So I ran and ran…I tripped and fell in a hole…I noticed that there were talking skeletons, one was wearing a blue jacket and he was wearing sandals and he had a bottle of ketchup in his hand…

E. F.


Fairy World

My fairy world is colorful with pink, purple, and blue. It has rainbows everywhere. My world has colorful cupcakes with toppings like sprinkles, strawberries, chocolate, and candy. There’s an awesome candy sparkle cake. My friend Strawberry says that her house is made of sparkles and candy. I have gone to her house very often. I love the chocolate pool. There’s a spa. There’s a candy chair. There’s a fruit with chocolate in it. There’s a beautiful pancake restaurant. The pancakes are very yummy. They have chocolate and strawberries. I love the chocolate pool. I go there very often. Sometimes I eat the chocolate.

My friend Strawberry and I go to the pancake restaurant. She orders the fruit/chocolate pancakes. I order the chocolate pancakes. That’s all for now!

Jessica Escobar


Mermaid World

When I got to Mermaid World, I was surprised by seeing a lot of mermaids. They lived in a castle in the middle of the ocean. They could swim fast like a fish when it’s scared. The mermaids had a tail so sparkly and pretty. All the mermaids were having fun swimming and playing with the ball.

N. R.


What Does the Dog Do?

sleep super cute
growl growling
playing with siblings

B. R. R.

Shining & Glowing: Wooten Elementary’s ACE Program

The ACE after-school program at Wooten Elementary was filled with energetic young writers. Their vivid imaginations led the way to writing hypothetical conversations with all different types of animals including crocodiles and whales. Willy asked a crocodile, “How old are you?” and the crocodile answered, quite matter of fact, “Old enough to be your dad.” Andrew wondered aloud to a whale, “Where were you born?” and the whale surprised him when he claimed, “I was born in outer space.” These students’ sense of humor shone through in their tales. Adam’s “Biggest Dog” drank the Mississippi River and when he was done with that drank the Colorado River! Their characters were healthy like José Saldana’s Bigfoot who ate vegetables and exclaimed, “That’s why I am tall.” They were helpful like José Hernandez’s “Mr. Trashcan” who helped people pick up their trash. They were intriguing like Janie’s character who pushed the air that made “all of the stars shine and glow.” They were green and menacing like Jacob’s villain “Greedy Grack.” Get ready to laugh and be entertained by their excellent sense of rhythm and rhyme. The future is in the capable hands of these young writers like Ely who share “It was great, that I didn’t hate, I was hot, writing on a plot.” Follow their clues and see where their imaginations take you!

Jena Kirkpatrick
Badgerdog Teaching Artist



Cutting Grass


I am a guy with a mask.
I have a knife for cutting grass.
Everybody needs to cut the grass.
Now the grass looks brown because
of the sand that comes from the ground.
I will read a book about strange things on the grass.
Even if someone tells me to get a drink, I will pass.

Isaac Govea


Biggest Dog

big dog

There was a day at school called, “Bring Your Dog to School Day.”
My friend brought his dog. He had a dog bigger than the Twin Towers!
The dog could never get in the school.
Every time he walked he shook the ground and you would jump up and down.
Every time he walked it was so scary. His water was the Mississippi River.
If he finished, he would drink the Colorado River.
His food was 50,000,000,000-pound dog food bags.
And his name was Tiny.
He had hazel brown soft fur and brown eyes. He had soft claws.
And he was 10 years old, but in human years he is 70 years old.

Adam Perez


A Journey

bike kids.jpg

America is going on a journey to the forest on a bicycle with me. We were in a hurry because we had a club meeting and we were late. While we were on our way we saw a bad, creepy person. When we turned around and looked at him, he had red eyes and a black hoodie. We pedaled as fast as we could. He caught up to us, but he couldn’t catch us. We hid in a tree and he ran right past us. After that, we arrived safely to the clubhouse. We were glad we got there safe and sound, but we didn’t get to eat anything. There were Cheetos there and we were like, yesss!

Heidi Rodriguez


Mr. Crocodile


Mr. Crocodile, where do you live?
     At the lake.

Mr. Crocodile, what is the biggest thing you’ve eaten?
         A hippo.

Mr. Crocodile, how old are you?
       Old enough to be your dad.

Willy Aparicio


Greedy Grack


greedy grack.png

First, my name is Max. I had pancakes for breakfast. When I went to school I was about to hop on the bus and then someone green robbed me! His name was Greedy Grack the news said.

Then, he took me to his base for three days. My mom hadn’t seen me, so she called the police. Then, Superman flew there! She heard he was a superhero.

Finally, one day Superman found Greedy Grack’s base. They fought until I was freed by Superman. The police came and arrested the bad guy. My mom got to see me again. So now, she only drives me to school so I can be safe.

Jacob Tinoco




Tiger, why do you live in Africa?
            Because it’s beautiful.

Tiger, why do you have stripes?
            Because, God.

Tiger, why do you have a tail?
     Because I was born with it.

Tiger, how did you get sharp teeth?
         Because I sharpened them with a rock.

Tiger, did that hurt?
           Just a little.

Christopher Morales Leyva


Rhyme, Rhyme, and Only Rhyme


Screen Shot 2019-12-04 at 2.52.07 PM.png

One day I went to a pool.
I didn’t come back until I got cool!
I went to a shore.
Then I went to explore!

It was so great.
That I didn’t hate.
I was hot.
Writing on a plot.

There was a gate.
But it was so freight.
I went to a dock.
I saw some birds flock.

Ely Hernandez


Mr. Whale


Mr. Whale, where do you live? Where can I find you?
            I live in the ocean with my friends.

Mr. Whale, where were you born?
            I was born in outer space.

Mr. Whale, what have you been eating in the ocean with your friends?
      I have been eating EVERYTHING with my friends.

Mr. Whale, how does it feel to be a whale?
       It feels fun living in the ocean with my friends and eating a lot of fish.

Mr. Whale, what is your biggest secret?
        I am so scared of sharks.

Andrew Castillo



Turtle, do you rest?

Turtle, what lives in your tummy?
      I don’t know, I just like it.

Turtle, can I eat you?
         Just kidding!

Sebastian Govea


Elephant Brain


One day, an alien took me to his space ship and he took me to Mars. He gave me alien food and it was brain and my drink was blood. They forced me to eat it or I would live in Mars with nothing.

So I ate it and it was like sheep’s blood and the brain was elephant’s brain. It felt so slushy and it was so nasty. It tasted like road. There were bones in the brain; there were eyeballs in the blood. My dessert was an arm with bones and blood everywhere. I hate blood, but I ate the arm and bones. It turned me into an alien.



Familyfamily heart


My biggest fear is to lose my family and losing my mom.
My family and mom are so important to me.
I could never live without them.
They are my everything.
I love my mom and my family.

Miranda Gamez


Bigfoot Secrets


Bigfoot, why are you hairy?
            To camouflage with the trees.

Bigfoot, why are you mean to people?
         They killed my family in a war.

Bigfoot, what do you eat?
          Vegetables, that’s why I am tall.

Bigfoot, what do you drink?
     I drink apple fruit juice.
            I am on a diet to be strong.

Bigfoot, what’s your biggest secret?
  I kick people to get revenge.

Bigfoot, where do you live?
          In the forest.

Bigfoot, why do you have red eyes?
Because I am looking
            at you.

José Saldaña


Mr. TrashcanCartoon-Trash-Can-N2


Mr. Trashcan,
Go pick up the trash!
She called, Mr.

Mr. Trashcan
Has a girl
Friend and she
Loves him so much.
Her name is Ashley.

Mr. Trashcan
Helps the people
Pick up the

José Hernandez


A Different Life

Screen Shot 2019-12-04 at 2.28.09 PM

I wish I had a car
Or went to Mars.
I wish people
Could go to space,
A different life at least
Another comet set.

Do you double as
A paper maker?
I despise you sometimes.
I love to hate and fight you
In my coat pocket,
Like sippin’ on straight chlorine.

Damian Ulloa


Shine and Glow

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I’ve never listened to you before,
because all your words I choose to ignore.
You say that you’re a weird cat,
one that’s always wearing a hat.
You may not like light,
and I think that’s alright.
There is always a dog
wandering in the winter fog.
And finally, you push the air that
you blow,
and make all of the stars
shine and glow.

Janie Balderas


The Breadth of Life

On four warm fall Fridays, this group of writers created and laughed together at Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church for Memory Connections. During the first session, they wrote poems about places, and I started to glimpse the breadth of life experience in the room. There were poems about San Francisco, Brooklyn, Lafayette, and towns and cities in between. I felt so lucky that we had all ended up in a church in Westlake Hills, reading, writing and sharing together. Each week, the writers shaped words into startling images, interesting observations, and even witty punchlines. There was a lot of laughter, interspersed with profound insights. This group didn’t take themselves too seriously, and they embraced the present moment without fear. These are the conditions where creativity and joy flow.

Jenny Fleming
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


The Best Surprise

A few years ago, I visited my son when he lived in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was my birthday and my son had a concert to conduct in the evening. He loves to embarrass me or surprise me. Just before the intermission, he went to the microphone and announced to all that it was my birthday. Coming down the aisle were three of my son’s orchestra members, giving me flowers and playing “Happy Birthday” on their instruments. They whole audience looked at me, clapped, and joined in on the song. I was both embarrassed and shy. But now, as I think back, I occasionally thank him for that special moment.



All is Good

My dog comes over as I watch TV.
She looks at me and wags her tail.
All is good with the world.




Growing up in Waco, Texas, my parents would always drive out to the country during bluebonnet season. One of my favorite pictures was on my father took of my mother, my sister and I by the side of a road surrounded by bluebonnets. I guess I was around five and my sister around eight.
Fast forward sixty-plus years. On retirement, I was pushing for Austin, but my wife was skeptical. She did not know of the beauty of the Hill Country. It was an “easy sell.” We always encourage our Illinois friends to visit during the bluebonnet season, and we give guided tours. Without exception, everyone has been impressed.

Boyd Spencer


Lake Jackson

Lake Jackson is a small town
Created in the late forties and early fifties,
close to the Gulf Coast,
surrounded by chemical plants,
full of giant trees, green grass, humidity and hope.

I lived there until I was fifteen years old.
I would love to see it now.
It was a new town with lots of people moving in
to run the chemical plants and supporting businesses.

Everybody knew everybody
and all their kids
and a lot of their business.

One of the saddest times of my life
was when my dad was transferred to Houston.
It was devastating and
turned out to be another happy adventure.
There’s a moral to this story.

Carol L. Adams



I see its arms.
I see it standing there in a proud place
with a special shine.

Robert S. Monroe


Flowers from Mike

He came home with flowers
in his hands every Friday.
White, yellow, red, pink with
sprinkles of green leaves and baby’s breath.
Why? Because it was important
to have beautiful flowers to
show his love.

He would plant flowers outside
in the front of our house and
in the back so they could be viewed
from all the back windows.
All three of our children
continue the practice with
their families. Flowers,
beautiful, love.


Everything is Connected

What a strong community with a welcoming vibe at Hope Lutheran Church’s Memory Connections! Most importantly, this group had a great sense of humor. This group of gifted writers and poets live big lives but can also think deeply. Even when asked to write about something as simple as a flower, they knew that everything is connected in this world, and they weren’t afraid to show it. Their graciousness was delightful, and not only was everyone always eager to share their writing, they were delicate listeners too—you can tell by their haikus.

Mendy Holliday
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


I Didn’t See

I didn’t see the tadpoles in the bucket
But I did see the tiny frogs clutching the metal edge.
Two of them, and when startled, they dived
Like lightening to the bottom to hide.

Rebecca Lowe


Those Old Dance Halls

Going to those old dance halls around my hometown Texas was the highlight of my week. I would go every Friday and Saturday night with family, later with boyfriends, then my husband.  I could see all my friends, hear the latest gossip, the good old country music. These old dance halls didn’t have air- conditioning just a lot of windows. So sweaty after dancing awhile. How did we ever do it? These are the best memories of my life. We go to this reunion dance once a year to hear 3 bands from the 70’s. It’s the nearest I come to recreating those old memories, dancing cheek to cheek. Now most of the old dance halls I went to are shuttered, which makes me sad.

Joyce Beversdorff



Flowers can be part of life in its happy moments or events,
but flowers can be part of sad moments.
I learned early that a bride carries a bouquet,
and flowers are set upon a grave.
My dad died when I was six years old.
I use the phrase happy/sad with my family who understands
that flowers are associated with the happy and the sad moments in one’s life.

Elizabeth Caldwell


Summer Heat & the Birds

Summer heat and the birds
feeding off the sunflower seeds.
Hot weather and warm breezes
linked to the changing seasons.
A container of sunshine
with the birds feeding and flying
to and from the station
where sunflower seeds are a valuable.
The changing seasons
as heat moves away
from the warm breezes
and the awareness of the air’s movement
and the possibilities of cooler days.
Pleasant days and anticipation
that all is ok.

Larry Graham


The Air of the City

San Francisco was a gorgeous town when I lived there. The many hills of the city went up and down. The air of this city was so wonderful and crisp, always washed clean by the Pacific Ocean. People who lived there knew they could always find good food to eat, no matter which part of the city. The best trip was to get on the bus to go out to sit on the sand at the ocean.

Pat Keen


First Glimpse of Ithaca

The first glimpse of Ithaca burst into view. The Little Apple that I had heard so much about rose above the sparkling water of Cayuga Lake glimmering in the sunshine. I could see why the bumper sticker on the car ahead of me said: Ithaca is gorges!



Red, Pink, or Yellow Roses

Flowers connect beauty and sorrow in my life.
Joy for weddings, graduations, promotions, accomplishments.
Sorrow for funeral, deaths—
Sorrowful blue lavender, black and purple,
Joyful red orange coral, roses, daisies, sunflowers.
I connect flowers with the death of my grandmother who was such a
dear sweet joyful helping person. She always saw the best in people.
Flowers that remind me of her are red, pink, or yellow roses.



The Bond Between Us

My wife is the curator
of flowers at our house.
I love seeing the tiny white flowers
on our kumquat bush
and the kumquatinis (kumquat martinis)
they engender.
We also have lilies and daffodils
behind the swimming pool.
I love the tiny flowers
that come on the Dwarf Barbados Cherry
and the Meyer Lemon.
They symbolize the bond between us.

Jim Hadden

Bearing Witness: The Gift of Sharing

It was a joy to spend a month with the writers of Memory Connections at Bethany Lutheran Church. These writers always had thoughtful and insightful feedback to give about the poems that inspired our writing exercises on any given week. We engaged with the simple act of paying attention, and the pieces they created speak to the beauty and emotionality inherent in the simple act of bearing witness: to your surroundings, to to your peers, and to yourself. I loved getting to know this group, and learning the many ways that we can define and explain who we are and where we are from beyond a simple label or a geographic region. From stunning lyrical images to delightful uses of humor, this group proved that connecting with one’s memory reaches beyond introspection, and into the gift of sharing our experiences with one another.

Sarah Matthes
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Texas Flowers

Seeing the springtime Texas flowers
such as bluebonnets, Mexican hats,
Indian paintbrush, and daisies
refreshes my feelings and emotions
toward what beauty is,
refreshes my soul, and strengthens
my resolve with nature.




I have mixed emotions regarding roses.
They have various colors and smells.
My first reaction is to grab them.

However, every time I try to grab them,
the thorns remind me just how unattractive they can be.

I love their appearance,
but I hate their feelings.

Joseph T. Colarusso



I remember working with my dad, planting tulips
while the first snow of the year was coming down.

It was a cold and miserable time,
but in the spring, we were weeding the beds
and the tulips were in full bloom.
It was beautiful, and such a difference
from when we planted them.




Picture a small town with beautiful parks, and they were busy all year round performing the myriad plays which Shakespeare wrote. I owned an 1880’s Bed and Breakfast just a few minutes’ walk from town and was an “innkeeper.” I had visitors from all over the country come to visit and I prepared the food. Ashland had at its center a lovely park with hiking trails and magnificent flowers.

W. Elaine Martens


Spring, Texas

Spring was quiet and full of beautiful flowers, shrubs, trees, birds, animals, happy children, well-kept homes, good schools, evergreen lawns and trees, children playing in yards or sometimes streets, buses into the city of Houston, trips to the Opera and plays and music groups, taking our children to the park to see their friends, teacher friends getting together, talking about students.



Bareilly, India

I could walk from my house to my dad’s office. The clerks in the front of the office would give me balloons. It took about fifteen minutes to walk to his office from our house. In the winter it would get cold enough to have a fire in the fireplace. The garden has a lawn surrounded by flowers. I learned to ride my bike. There were about ten officers and I played with their kids.




Any living flower is an amazing thing.
Actually, they’re all alike (shape and size vary)
but the basic components—sticks,
twigs, leaves, dirt, fresh stuff too, all added—
piles of old brown things making crinkling
noises as you step across the yard.

The best of music is no better—
they’re the bookends of joy and sorrow.



Pleasure in Plants & Place

The lively group of Memory Connections writers at Christ Lutheran Church in Georgetown took pleasure in rhyme and surprise in poems, shared their weekly joys and struggles with candor and humor, and discussed the need for more writing from and about people living with early memory loss. They wrote vividly about the natural world, the seasons, and how certain flowers serve as portals to remember their loved ones and childhoods: Crocuses heralding spring and chilly lilies offering hope that fall in central Texas is coming! We bonded over a shared love of routines as moorings in our days, and discussed the beauty of writing done in private, to reflect, to document, and to process feelings and thoughts. I’m grateful to have spent these weeks with this talented and generous group of writers; I hope you enjoy their witty, vulnerable, and vivid work as much as I have.

Mary Terrier
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Those Weeks

Those weeks would be like a different world for us, the cousins from Phoenix, and me from El Paso where it was so hot you could fry eggs on the sidewalk. My aunt and uncle lived on a piece of land with cacti all up and down the mountains, and down in the valley an orchard of apple, pear, peach, and cherry trees.

Pat Joyce



Auntie’s Garden

My father’s eldest sister could coax any species of flower to bloom and show—a green thumb was a mere description of her talent—whether she was planting, nurturing, or snipping—the arrangements were amazing—small as in Cecil Brunner’s—blazing yellow daffodils—or even willow branches from the creek—all were unique works of art.
My Auntie was a treasured person. Love, joy, tender hugs—She always shared her garden with me!

Helen Haynes


How Do You Make the Flowers?

The house was tucked away on a large farm. The girl was about five or six years-old. She ran alone, running uphill, and down again. The girl ran into the pasture. She loved being alone and free.
In the early fall her mother started working the planting, and the girl watched and asked, “How do you make the flowers?” The mother gave the child a packet of seeds and told her what to do. The girl put the seeds and watered each. The pansies were beautiful…and the girl was very happy.



Llano River

A very good place to take a vacation. If you like outdoor camping, you would enjoy the Llano River. I guess you could call this a cowboy city. Junction, Texas.

Clemencia G. Castillo


Harvest Time

Harvest your roses while you may
Your time is always flying
For your flowers that smile today
Tomorrow will be dying



Natchitoches, Louisiana

Natchitoches, Louisiana is a small town located on Cane River, streets are made of brick, and the city overlooks Cane River. Part of the Civil War was in Nachitoches. Old beautiful homes overlook the river on one side and the other side is lined with houses.



Austin, Texas

Boom Town
The University of Texas school
Many good restaurants
Lots of museums
Lots of art



Somerset, KY

The downtown area has many older brick buildings. The traffic enters the area from four different directions and progresses right around in a circle until you come to the street where you want to exit. Then you progress onto the interstate where all the new boat shops, hospital, Walmart, and the lumberyard are located. This new section of town is where most people go daily for their shopping. Now, the old downtown area holds the banks, real estate, and office buildings. This is not really so different from many towns in the middle of America that have continued to exist. Many smaller places surrounding the larger cities have lost their grocery stories, post offices, etc. Only a few service stations remain.

Patricia Kellett