The Cocoa Bean Strikes Back!

The Industrial Revolution changed the way we did … well, everything. Much debate has surrounded these “innovations,” and their true effect on our quality of life. The integrity of humanity came into question and, since Marx, the ethical ramifications of production have never left the world stage. Today, thanks to one of Badgerdog’s summer camp writers, we offer yet another perspective on this moment of history. First, you’ll find Shea Li’s poem is a delightful, extended example of personification. (What would a cocoa bean say? How would it write a poem?) More than that, this writer’s poem offers a fascinating and fresh perspective that fits nicely into a contemporary theme. How does the cocoa bean feel about its cheapening through mass production? We certainly cannot ask it, but Shea Li imagines the result (a rather indignant bean!). This instance of animism is incredibly enjoyable and also profoundly thoughtful.

The Abused Cocoa Bean

I used to be the sacred cocoa bean
I was the finest plant of my age
I was only drunk by great leaders or gods
I was served in pure gold cups and golden wrappers
Even the most valuable items quivered in my
Presence, but not so much as to
Make my flavor shake!

I was a sacred cocoa bean but
These days I feel abused
I am passed around in ordinary mugs and
The dishes in the sink laugh, saying
I go down the drain because
I am not as valuable as they are
I am made by noisy yip yap machines
No longer by fine Aztec hands
This is a sad and abused cocoa bean
Telling you this, so next time
You drink me think about my
Savory flavor! I am a sacred cocoa bean.

Shea Li, fifth grade, Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp at Hope Presbyterian Church


The Herd

The most amazing thing about human consciousness is its yearning to reach outside of itself, to form connections in the world, to know another who is not the same. We are constantly drawn to these beyonds, like moths to flame. We are curious, and we hope to find comfort. Perhaps because we are so small, while the world seems so grand around us. Surrounded by sixty sheep, for example, we lose the ability to herd them. When faced with the infinite, we understand our inability to become all that we see. Sometimes this means a moment of loneliness. This week’s young writer, Ethan, has captured all of these sentiments in his poem, “The Shepherd,” drawing on a bit of “the world’s greatest tale” in order to communicate a similarly epic truth. The results of his reflections are breathtaking and moving.

The Shepherd

Sixty sheep looking forward that morning
through the familiar fields, a
couldn’t speak he was no
longer a shepherd, the marketplace
was far from home
so god who believed
in dreams
opened his pouch,
but all he found were
two stones,
the only truthful thing
that made him and the shepherd
feel better.

Ethan, sixth grade, Creative Writing Summer Camp at Hope Presbyterian Church

A Taste of the Absurd

To be a writer is to build impossible worlds and make them seem real; the writer sits down to write and, one syllable after another, he paints in scents and sounds, puts one object here (not there), and focuses in on an image that reminds us of the connection between what we see and what we feel. The beauty of this awesome task is, in part, its room for possibility. The writer can create worlds we’ve never dreamed of and make the unusual come to life.

This week, we feature a writer who offers us into a rather absurd world. As you’ll see in this delightful poem, William transforms a spoon into an endless container, a bottomless well, then fills it with more and more of the impossible. Except, in the end—well . . . you’ll have to read for yourself.

The Ridiculous Spoon

—after Kit Wright’s “The Magic Box”

I will put in the spoon
A ninth planet with clouds of poison,
Water from the moon of Mars,
A plane running on hydrogen with helium from crackers.
I will put in the spoon
A goldfish with wings of steel,
A door when it is a leaf,
Fire on water with neon lights.
I will put in the spoon
The square of four when it equals seventeen,
The essence of pretzels on purple curtains,
Ramen on a plate with seasoning that doesn’t taste good.
I will put in the spoon
The last breath of a Martian-mallow,
And the first death of a cat with nine lives,
And electric fertilizer that kills grass.
This spoon is made of chopsticks, knives, and forks
With gasoline vapors inside the handle
And entire universes in the spoon part.
I will shrink into the spoon
Even though it doesn’t officially exist.

William, fifth grade, Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp

Back to Our Roots

Part of Badgerdog’s summer camp experience includes two getaways intended to provide a change of pace from the classroom environment and to offer other life forms and art forms as inspiration for students’ writing. This summer, for the first time, our elementary-aged writers took a trip to the Urban Roots farm, where they enjoyed an up-close look at the summer harvest, a little work in the fields, and plenty of grasshopper sightings. Though it was a hot, hot summer day in Texas, the students turned their experiences on the farm into beautiful poetry and prose, and we’re happy to share it with you this week. Enjoy!


Round and very sweet.
It is red and fruity. Yum!
It is ripe today.

Angela, fifth grade

A Spider’s Point of View

I am a spider, and right now I am so angry at those human monsters. I spent two days finishing my web, and then those monsters came with a broom and bang, my web broke. My friends and I have tried to avoid those human monsters. We tried to tell the humans our webs are delicate, but they won’t listen. Right now, my family is sitting dead at the bottom of a dumpster.

It is really boring weaving a web. It is like weaving a basket. My mom taught me to weave a web. My first web was really small. But the web the monsters broke was as a big as this whole page. Most of my friends died because of the monsters. It is the worst life for a spider.

Francisca, fourth grade

A Day in the Life of a Tree

Sitting, watching, waiting. I have a sad, lonely life as an evergreen tree. My spikes are mean, and they will never go away or fall of because I am an evergreen tree. Other trees lose their mean leaves, and the mean ones turn different colors. But the innocent leaves are picked off the branches, for they lived on a regular tree.

I sit. I watch. I wait.

Sage, fifth grade


The leaves
are as green as
a grasshopper. I feel
as fresh as the time
I opened my door
when the weather
was great!

The flowers
are like a garden
in a secret place
I have never seen.

Aditi, fourth grade

Field Trip



Eric, third grade

A Two-Winged Dragonfly

Perching on a branch
Looking for a place to land
Fluttering away

Joshua, third grade

Beautiful Fields

I feel the smooth grass
I taste the sweet tomatoes
I see the tomatoes growing before me
I hear the crunch, crack, click of a bug

I taste the sweet tomatoes
I see the flutter of excitement
I hear the crunch, crack, click of a bug.
I see the flies flying away.

Joshua, third grade

The Flying Bug

Black and clear
Flying swiftly
Buzzing in your ear

Flying swiftly
And skinny.

Lauren, fourth grade

Weed Tree

A weed
as big as a tree.
A colossal, huge
weed. It’s
agony. It’s
to pull. Sweat
pouring down
my head.
I never got
it out.
Will it
come out?

Alex, fifth grade

A Tree

In the middle
of nowhere
stands a lifeless,
twisted, deformed
tree. All the leaves
have fallen and
gone. What is
left is only
the hollow trunk
and the shady
branches, giving
the tree
a spooky image.

Alexander, sixth grade

Drying Onions

Drying out the onions
under the hay,
as dry as a hot desert.
The sun shines
as bright as a flashlight.

In the greenhouse,
it is hot, sweaty, and bright.
The sun bleeds through
like a marker on a paper.

Shreyas, fifth grade