Writing, at its best, is a conversation. It could be between the writer and the reader, or maybe just the writer having a chit-chat with themselves. Occasionally (as is the case with some of the pieces below), it’s a highly emotional exchange between the writer and an inanimate object. Not only can writing bea conversation, but it can also spark entirely new ones to happen away from the page.
That is exactly what happened in these workshops. We had all manner of conversations, inspired by the work we read and shared together. These ranged from discussions of poetry and the value of fictional friendships to reasons we might steal batteries from our TV remote control and the horribleness of litterboxes. This group of writers have created valuable, interesting, uniquely creative conversations in their works, and I’m so grateful to have chatted along with them in our time together.
Badgerdog Teaching Artist
My Ghost Story
Hi, my name is Keith, and I have a friend who’s a ghost. I know it’s weird, but hear me out. I will tell you how it all started.
I woke up, feeling drained and tired. ”Wake up, Sleepyhead” mom said as she went to get the cleaning supplies. I swear, every time we clean (she is always such a cleaning freak), she gets mad when there’s like one sock on the floor.
”Ok,” I said as I got up.
”Clean your room after school, it’s digesting.”
Well, she might be right about my room. It has Dirty clothes everywhere and dishes and unknown stuff. I grabbed my backpack and took it to the kitchen. My mom was cooking some bacon and eggs, and my big brother was playing Duty Calls or something like that.
”Breakfast is ready!” Mom said as she got the plates.
When we sat at the table, my brother said, “I dare you to go inside that creepy house across the street.”
And everyone who knows me knows I can never pass a dare. *Insert dun dun dunnnn!*
I walked up to the house. I had a second thought, but I ignored that and went inside.
It was so old and broken and creaky,and it smelled like fart farted everywhere, There are books everywhere, chairs that look like it might fall to dust if you touch it for even a split second, dolls that look like they’re haunted. Just a lot of creepy stuff in general.
”Wow,” I said to myself as I noticed there was a stair on the side of the house. So I went up on there *creeeeeeeek*
I opened the door and that’s when I met the ghost. ”Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”
My heart was full of fear as I saw the ghost yelling, “Well I’m a ghost, if you didn’t know.”
Eli And Robby
There was once two little boys that met in kindergarten. One was named Robby and the other Eli. They were really good friends, but Robby was kind of a misbehaved kid. He stole candy and got in trouble in both school and home. And then Eli was a was a well-behaved kid. He never got in trouble and was almost perfect.
And even though it seemed like they had nothing in common, they were best friends, because they both loved the same foods and the same type of books (which were joke books). If they ever started a conversation, it was almost impossible to stop them from talking,
As they got older Robby began to get in bigger trouble like sometimes he wanted a new phone but he didn’t want to pay for it so one time he tried to steal a phone. But he got caught, and he had to pay for it anyways. Eli began to be very successful in life and became rich. But when Eli had became rich, Robby became a small time thief.
As time passed they hadn’t talked in a long time, so Eli decided to text Robby to see what he was up to. But Eli saw that Robby didn’t respond for one week. Eli decided to do a little research and found out that Robby was arrested for stealing another phone. Eli decided to pay the police station, so that Robby could be free and he could talk with him and catch up with him. Eli and Robby talked for hours, and they felt like they were kids again. They hung out all day and then they both went home, because it was late. Robby realized how good Eli’s life was and decided to change his ways. He didn’t brake any laws, worked hard, and soon he was living a life almost the same as Eli’s.
Your pixels are as smooth as a baby’s butt. I’m sorry we couldn’t update you. That was tragic. I know I overwork you. I’m sorry but I only do it because you’re so entertaining. I wish we could be together more. You’re my everything. And for that, I dedicate this poem to you.
You shine brighter than a star. Keep shining, my love.
Dear Air Conditioner,
Why do you make it so hot in our house like a boiling pot? I’m always having a fan on because of you.
Derrick & Neil
Once upon a time there was this one boy named Derrick. He came from a family of five brothers and three sisters. There were so many siblings in their house that their parents had to take turns doing day and night shifts each two jobs each. So he only really saw one parent at a time. He started to feel really lonely because none of his siblings shared any of his interests, and he didn’t really see his parents a lot.
Where his dad works there was an incident… his father worked as an Uber driver, and he got into a terrible accident where a truck crushed him. And sadly his dad did not make it. Derrick was so sad when his mom told him after that he wouldn’t leave his room. He didn’t even want to eat. All until at night he heard a big boom.
He gasped and looked out the window. He saw a big round circle that had rings. He then realized that it was a UFO. He couldn’t believe his eyes since all of his family was asleep. He quickly grabbed a coat and ran outside.
When he approached the UFO, he noticed movement in the UFO. He got scared, so he picked up a stick from the floor and approached the UFO. When he got close, he saw an alien and it was hurt.
So he said, “Hey are you ok?”
And surprisingly the alien knew English. He said, “Yeah, I’m ok. I think I crashed.”
After that, he snuck the hurt alien inside his house. He soon realized since he didn’t have friends, the alien could be his friend. So he asked the alien.
And the alien said, “I guess you saved my life and sure why not.”
Derrick was so happy. After that Derrick decided to name the alien. Derrick thought it would be funny if he named the alien Neil Alexander. because the initials for Neil Alexander are Neil A. and Neil A. back wards spells A.lien.
So Derrick told Neil his new name and Neil actually liked that name. After that, Derrick took Neil around the city because he wanted to get Neil used to earth. They were so happy until…. his parents sent the coordinations on the UFO to earth because they were in the middle of war. They started tracking the UFO’s crash site and they went to earth to retrieve Neil.
Whenever they got there, Neil was so happy to see them. But when they said they were taking Neil back, Derrick wasn’t happy to see them. But he knew that those are Neil’s parents and they love Neil. So when Neil got in the car, Derrick gave Neil his little brother’s old tablet, so they could still keep in contact with each other and even FaceTime. After that, Derrick didn’t have Neil but still did at the same time.
One day, Daisy and her best friend Diana were taking a walk like they always did. On their walk, they saw a shining ball on a hill so they ran over and Diana touched the ball. When she touched the ball it turned blue and when she let it go it turned white. Daisy touched it for five minutes and it pulled them into a cave with crystals everywhere and every color.
While they were looking around, a man startled them and told them, “I’m Mr. Ferryman. I see you have found my cave. Come with me”. They followed him and he showed them a crystal that had a missing piece to it. “This piece of this crystal has been stolen by a man named Levi Hook. Levi stole this about 25 years ago and I’ve never seen it again…”.
This scared the girls… they were worried that Levi would take something important from them! “Uhm… d-does he still live around here?” Diana asked nervously.
“Nobody knows. He could be right above us right now!”. This just scared the girls even more. They knew they were going to find Levi and take that piece from him.
The next day, they searched everywhere. They were about to give up until they remembered one more place… a small cave. They went in it and someone was in it. It was no one other than Levi Hook! They quietly looked around and saw the green, shining piece of that crystal, but there was one problem: Levi was right there! They had to think of ways to be sneaky. They got a stick and knocked off the crystal from the stand it was on and escaped quickly and Levi didn’t notice!
They brought the piece back to Mr. Ferryman and said, “Mr. Ferryman!!! We got the piece!!!” he smiled and put it on the perfect green glowing crystal.
“Wow… we’ve been missing this for over 24 years and you got it back in a day?! I’m impressed.”
The news got spread around and the girls got $100,000!
Frances Roma Ramirez
I’m Sorry for You, Broom
I’m sorry for you, broom. It must be horrible to have to pick up other people’s mess, just like I do. I feel bad that I stuck you into the trash can to retrieve my very special plate, and our valiant efforts to get my sister’s dirty Frozen 2 diapers from under the old black couch (they were very stinky). We shouldn’t have to do these things, but the world will never be fair to inanimate objects and eleven-year-old boys.
Dear Chandelier Over the Table,
I wish you weren’t so low. It is impossible to not hit my head. I got a bump on my head one time. Also I wish you would not be so bright. You are constantly shining in my face. Please keep in mind you can be replaced! Also let’s talk about the fact that you never ever hit Maisie on the head just Mom, Dad, and me! I repeat I can replace you with a high tech chandelier! I could even get your brother, and I know how much you hate him! I will put you in a landfill and you can rot there for the rest of your life! Oh and one more thing: You have got to dust yourself. You are giving me allergies!
Thank you and I hope to see changes
Your amazing owner,
P.S Could you please stop hitting my guest in the head it is scaring them off?
The Brave Dr. Pepper
One day in a small refrigerator, there was someone named Pepper and Pepper was a soda. One day the refrigerator that all the sodas lived in was getting thrown away and everybody was so scared. One person couldn’t see his world collapse, and so Pepper and his friends opened the fridge door. Five Sprites went to the owner so they could be drank (and so they could get his mind off the fridge).
Dr. Pepper got out as well and went to the big fridge to ask for help. They said yes. So then they waited for the dumb human to throw the fridge away.
There he was the human named Kane. *tan tan taaaan* Now all the people from the big fridge got out to fight and all the people from the small fridge got out fight. And there Kane was picking up the fridge when Pepper shouted, “This is war!!!!!!”
So they fought Kane. They punched him and kicked him (and one even punched him in a bad part). Kane was now on the ground, scared. So Pepper said, “You will not throw the fridge away.“
Kane said,”Ok, ok, ok.“
And all the sodas were saved because of Dr. Pepper.
Dear Overflowing Trash Can,
Do you think this is a joke? I’ve been waiting for a week, and you still haven’t cleaned yourself. I mean, do you think I’m gonna do it for you? Because it’s not my fault you fill up so quickly! And don’t get me started on the fact that you can’t even close properly because of all the stuff that’s in you. I mean what kinda trash can are you?
Oh and you might be wondering why I’m sending a letter. I know it’s a little old fashioned but it feels cool and don’t you dare not respond to this and give me the lame excuse that you don’t have arms. You are just as capable as anyone! Even the Trash Bag responds when I complain to him. His handwriting is really bad though. I mean who can blame him? He doesn’t have fingers. Anyway, I hope you respond soon or I’ll turn you into Simon’s litter box.
Lots of resentment,
Dearest Argos (my dogo),
I do not know how you get into the trash and cabinets that are twenty feet high? How did you do it? Do you have telekinesis? Can you fly? Are you a master of parkour?
And how do you fit so much in that belly of yours?(Especially when you eat a whole loaf of bread!) It’s almost bottomless! And you don’t even throw up?!?!?!?!? The more you eat, the more immortal you get, and the more your farts stink! Another question, does Paloma (our other dogo) help you on your evil schemes to steal our food? OK and what could possibly be in Lilly’s backpack that you think is so important you have to go through it every day the messiest way possible!??!?!?!?!
Any way to wrap it up, when you eat a whole loaf of bread while we are out, please think of our terrored faces when we finally arrive home to trash everywhere and little pee stains on our carpet.
P.S. Please stop drinking out of the toilet, there is plenty of fresh water in your bowl.
Summertime in The Very, Very Far North
Duane was hot! So hot that he woke up early, maybe too early. He never hated his shaggy cot more in his life. He groped around for his snipers (the small metal cutters). When he found them, he jumped out of bed and ran to the edge his cave and down the stone steps (which he made last year) and puffed to the shipwreck.
He had little beads of water on his face. He ran to the big hole on the side of the ship and burst into C.C.’s room. She was frantically flying around the room.
“Hello, Duane!” She chirped in her high pitched voice.
“Hello C.C I need help.”
It took a second for C.C. to answer “What do you need?” she asked.
“This morning i woke up super hot.”
“I think we have left winter” Duane cut her off.
“What!!!! Duane winter will come back, but for now we welcome summer”.
“What’s summer?” Duane asked
“Well, it is the opposite of winter. So you know how winter is cold?”
“Well summer is hot”
“You mean the way I felt this morning?”
“Yes,” she said sadly.
What Would Happen If Anxiety Took Over Your Mind?
—a poetic version
Snap, Skit, Hide, the world is out to get you,
Stay on the ground blend in don’t move at all,
Change your colors don’t show anything,
Never trust anyone,
Let the thoughts that keep you safe encase you with their tentacles
wrapping around your mind until you have to give up and bow to their wrath,
You try to escape but the thoughts come,
More and more each time taking over what you once were and what you will be,
Until you become someone else something else that no one can save anymore.
How We Bested the Mafia
Hi, I’m Jim Mcgee. I’m 87. Have you ever heard of the story of my best friend and I? No? I thought so. It’s about us when we were twelve and…
Once there was this kid named Dave and he was the son of the president. You know the president because he’s “the boss” and “the boss” was busy as heck. He had a lot of conferences over new laws with some other people (I forgot their name) to see if they should veto it or appoint it.
Anyway, Dave was the president’s son and booooyyyyyy did he like to prank those important people. Sometimes I helped him (if you’re reading this, Dave, no offense), and I thought my ideas were better, like that time we brought a crazy mule into his dad’s office (yes, he was mad).
One day we went to Chicago for a vacation and we heard that, and get this, the Mafia was planning to kill his dad! Boy was he shocked, so we faked that we got sick, and we went back to the White House where we yelled “Psych!” to his mom and he got grounded.
When he (barely) survived his grounding we told the White House guards and they believed us. Except no! They didn’t believe us, I mean, who would believe the biggest pranksters the White House knew? Hold on let me ask you a question, do you think maybe you would’ve believed us? After we told everyone, and no one believed us, we decided that we were gonna have to come up with a plan ourselves. We started working on ways to trap the Mafia, and let me tell you something, nobody missed us. I mean, if you were an extremely important serious guy, would you miss two crazy pranksters?
Once we finished, we knew we were missing something, and it only took us two seconds to figure out what we were missing. The answer is when were they coming? Luckily, we saw on TV that a famous gang, that looked exactly like the gang we saw, was coming to Washington D.C., where we lived. They said that tomorrow they were going to do something that was important business. Bingo!
The next day, we set all the traps in their places after everybody was asleep. We waited and waited until we saw a sinister looking group pull up in a limo and that was our thumbs up for bringing the traps to life. When they started digging holes in the ground to get in, they found real jewels! I’m talking diamonds, gold, rubies and more. They decided that they would get way more money from this than killing the president. So they went back to their big car. When they were in the car, the ground gave way and set off a very loud alarm! They were trapped. It only took a few minutes for the White House guards and the police to find them. Then we came running out of the building telling the guards what happened. They couldn’t believe it. But they saw all the jewels the criminals had so they arrested them for stealing sacred Whitehouse treasures.
During the trial, the jury found out that these thugs were responsible for several cases of homicide plus plotting to kill the president, so they were sentenced to jail for the rest of their lives. Meanwhile at the White House, everything returned back to normal including the pranks.
One day, Dave and I pulled one of our greatest pranks ever. We set Whoopie cushions on every chair, except for his dad’s. We also switched out “the boss’s” speech with a fake Gettysburg Address written by us. You should’ve heard him when he read it because it was awesome! Of course Dave got in trouble, but it was totally worth it. We are the greatest pranksters the White House has ever seen.
Dear Sleepy Bunny,
Thank you so much for comforting me every night when you sit on my dresser. I feel as though when you are near me you keep away my bad dreams and when you’re gone the bad dreams come for me. I hope that you enjoy it when I bring you on family vacations although I’m super sorry that the duffel bag is squishy and it makes you claustrophobic. I will attempt to upgrade to a bigger bag so that you will have room for some space and some air.
Another thing is that eventually I will make your own bed next to my desk so you have a place to relax. Again, thank you for all you do for me and all of my other stuffed animals agree with me that you make them happy as well and you are great company.
Dear Very Bright Lamp,
I’d like to start out with why do you have to be so bright?! Ok now that I have gotten that out of my system, let’s move on.
What I’ve really wanted to share my feelings about is: why do you have to provide the perfect amount of light to every except me? When I turn you on, could you just maybe be five notches dimmer? I would also like it if you only provide light for me and no one else, I know you are just trying to be nice, but your being just a little too nice. I hope you take this seriously.
Love your owner,
P.S. Can you tell the ceiling fan to quiet down a little bit? Thanks.
The Emotion Storm
Happiness is a big and strong T.Rex.
Every once in a while, an emotion storm comes.
It starts simple with small raindrops of madness.
The madness is fun in small amounts, but storms full of them can lead to insanity.
Next comes the fierce bolts of anger.
If your T.Rex is hit, then you will burst out in spurts of rage.
Next, if you are unlucky, a big, strong tornado of depression comes.
Your T.Rex could be in there for months, maybe even years if swooped up by the tornado.
And even after the storm, the T.Rex will still be there, maybe a little roughed up, but he will still be as happy and delightful as ever.
This Is Me
As swift as a fox, yet as clumsy as a panda
As quiet as a mouse, yet as loud as an elephant
As intelligent as a dolphin, yet as stubborn as a mule
As colorful as a peacock, yet as drab as a newborn penguin
As slow as a sloth, yet faster than a cheetah
As brave as a tiger, yet as fearful as a hamster
As intrigued as a dog, yet as annoyed as a cat
I am unstoppable
The Boy Who Was Running Like the Wind
The boy was running like the wind. He had stolen the store’s bread.
’’Get back here you little thief!’’ said the shopkeeper.
The boy went back to his house, which was under a bridge. His house had two wood pillars and a metal roof and walls. His bed was a rag and his pillow was a… well, he was lucky enough to find a pillow. He had no one with him. He was starting to think that he would never get a family when he heard something outside. A stray dog was outside. When he saw the boy, he jumped up and ran right toward him.
’’Its ok,’’ said the boy with a smile. ’’You’re safe now.’’