A Special Guest

This week and last, Badgerdog has been fortunate enough to meet several marvelous poets visiting Austin as part of the Austin International Poetry Festival (AIPF). In addition to the poets’ readings and workshops with AIPF, these unforgettable folks volunteered to visit our Badgerdog students during their weekly workshops. The results were truly stunning. Students were enthralled by their visitors and encountered new worlds (and words) filled with inspiration.

Last Thursday, poet Tantra Zawadi, who traveled to Texas from her home in Brooklyn, NY, stopped by our fourth-grade workshop at Ortega Elementary, where she introduced students to Native American poetry then led them through a beautiful exercise in imagination and creativity. Each and every student shared their poems with the entire class. This week, we are excited to bring you the student poems inspired by Tantra’s visit. We also want to thank AIPF for sharing their poets!


I am blown away
I come and go
to the east
to the west
people breathe me in
and breathe me out
I move hard and soft
I don’t know where I’m going
but I’m going somewhere
that’s one thing



Sometimes I am in the ocean
or in the toilet.
I could be falling down from the sky
or at the beach.
Sometimes you drink me and I
lose some weight.
They sell me for money.
Who am I?


I Make

I make glistening rain fall.
I cover up the sky.
I make thunder produce lightning.
I make the earth wet.
I bring joy to dry places.
I blow away easily.



I only appear after it rains.
I am colorful.
I have the colors blue, red,
yellow, and green.
I am curved, not straight.



These places are wonderful, big places
where we feel safe.



I am loud.
You can hear me in a storm.
I am in the sky.
I am everywhere there is a storm.
Sometimes I am loud and
sometimes I am soft, but I am
still normal.



I am bright and shining.
You wear sunglasses when I am out.
I am out all day, but not at night.
You might sneeze when you look at me.
What am I?



I can get you wet.
I live in a cloud, and I fall on your head.
I drop from the sky on cloudy nights.
You wash your body with me, and you drink me.
I get your hands wet when you wash your hands.
Who am I?



I evaporate, go in the clouds, and then go back down.
I am the opposite of down.



We come out and play games
Or play in the dirt
Or play on the sidewalk
Or play with toys
Or play outside
Or play with your friend



I make your face look pretty.
The nature is lovely.
Your clothes are beautiful.
People will love you.
I roll all over the world on everybody’s face.



Love Is in the Air

We’ll not wax poetic about the meaning of love. Instead, we bring you a few young writers who, with their poems, remind us of love’s beauty and its quirks. First, you’ll read a poem by Jessie, a fourth grader from Ortega Elementary School and the winner of our Spring 2011 poem card contest. You can also find Jessie’s poems in restaurants across Austin today. Who knows, you may find one tonight in your check at the end of your date. Next, you’ll read a poem from Cesar, a fourth-grader from Zavala Elementary School and a finalist in our contest. Cesar wrote the poem first in Spanish, and we’ve translated it into English, but we’re proud to present both versions of his piece. Finally, a poem from Viviana of Del Valle Middle School, another finalist in our contest. We hope these poems inspire you look for love everywhere, in all things.

Love Is

Love is like friendship, but
it is a little bit stronger.
If a man gives a woman
a heart and a very red ruby ring,
that shows his love for her.
Sometimes, if they go on a date
and they love each other, the man
might ask if she wants to share
a plate of chocolate– and whip-cream–
covered strawberries. At the end,
his heart will beat as loud as a bass drum.

Jessie, fourth grade, Ortega Elementary School

From a Dog to His Love, the Beach

The dog said to the beach, “You are a rose.
You are a wheel that makes me dizzy.
You are like a chair of gold.
You are a little mouse who hides from me,
and you are someone very intelligent.
You are like a key that opens all the doors of my house,
a jacket that covers me in the cold so I don’t get sick.
You are a little donkey that carries me everywhere,
and a computer with Cool Math.
You are like a flower bud barely born.
You are a little girl who exercises to get strong.
You are a table that holds all my things.”

De un perro a su amor, la playa

El perro le dijo a la playa, “Eres una rosa.
Eres una rueda que me marea.
Eres como una silla de oro.
Eres una ratoncita que se esconde de mí,
y eres una persona muy inteligente.
Eres como una llave que me abre las puertas de mi casa,
una chamarra que me cubre del frío para que no esté enfermo.
Eres una burrita que me lleva a todos lados,
y una computadora que me mete en Cool Math.
Eres como una florecita que apenas nació.
Eres una niña que hace ejercicios para estar fuerte.
Eres una mesa que me deja poner todas mis cosas.”

Cesar, fourth grade, Zavala Elementary School

Dear Harp…

Dear Arpa (Harp),

You sing the lullaby of sorrow.
I can feel your pain
and suffering.
I can tell that your wounds
haven’t healed.
Not even my comfort helps.
I won’t be able to catch you
when you fall from the clouds
with my tiny arms.

Rana (Frog)

Viviana, sixth grade, Del Valle Middle School

Fall Poem Card Contest

As our kitchens heat up and families gather together, we take comfort in fall’s arrival—not just the turkey and football or long hours at the dinner table, but the cooler weather, the changing colors, and the significance we lend to it all.

This week, we dedicate Unbound to three writers who beautifully captured the essence of the fall season. Please meet our winner and two finalists for the annual Badgerdog Fall Poem Contest. The winner, Rey from Zavala Elementary, will have his poem published on a card that will be distributed to local restaurants. Patrons dining out this week will find the card tucked inside their checks.

Congratulations to all three writers! Their words truly transport us to those special moments that appear as the year draws to a close.

Winner: Fall

Every fall, I have hot cocoa and mushy s’mores.
Fall reminds me of warm, snug times. Sometimes
I run outside and do chores. I rake the leaves.
My mom is happy until I jump in! I love when
the leaves float around like people in the water
falling down slowly. Sometimes my brother and I
play leaf tag. When it is really windy, we play under
the big trees, and if a leaf touches you, you are it.
But most of all, I think of fall as a time when my family
can get together.

Rey, fourth grade, Zavala Elementary School

Finalist: Family of Thanksgiving

I like raking leaves with my cousin. We describe
the leaves as our family. When there are leaves
on the ground, I think of my dad being lazy. When
there are leaves on a tree, I think of my little brother
holding on to my mom. When a leaf falls, we think
of his dad as if he’s flying in a jet for the Air Force.
When we make a big pile of leaves, we think
of every one of us going to Thanksgiving.

Jerome, fourth grade, Ortega Elementary School

Finalist: Fall!

Fall! It’s what makes me want to play
a long board game. Fall makes me want
to sleep in late. It’s what relieves me
of humid days. I know during fall we can
walk home without being baked. Long
nights and hot cocoa evenings. It tells
me to be just me. It inspires me to try harder.
It’s fresh. Everything looks warmly colored,
and it brings my family together again.

Aubrey, fourth grade, Zavala Elementary School


Throwing logic to the wind, Jessie from Ortega Elementary offers a playful vision of color and shape. Like an abstract painting, the lines leap and twist through nature and among people, then turn through crayons, shirts, and the material world. We even spin briefly through the wonder of the solar system. In this skillful poem, Jessie creates a beautiful and insightful view of a world we’re all still trying to make sense of.

Dark as blood
Red like a rose
Purple like a crayon
Blue as a bluebonnet
Yellow smells like a flower
Gray as the moon
Red as Mars
Green and blue like the Earth
Black as the sky at night
Yellow as the beautiful stars
Orange like a leaf
Brown like a rotten banana
Winter like snow
Fall like a sunflower
Spring as yellow
Summer like bright light
Maroon like a shirt
Green as a market
White as a horse
Black like a jacket
Skinny as my brother
Fat as a mountain
Ugly as an ogre
Weird as a troll
Beautiful as a butterfly
Stupid as an ant
Colorful as an artist
Creative like a person who draws pictures

Jessie, fourth grade, Ortega Elementary School