Girls with Pens

The girls in our spring “Girls With Pens” workshops had been told they’d be writing, but they squealed with delight when I told them we’d be making up stories. Each week, they waited with bated breath until I gave them the next assignment and then they would scribble furiously until time was up. The only thing better than creating the work was sharing it. The girls constantly campaigned to be first.

During our six weeks together, we learned about the fundamentals of fiction, the beauty of metaphor and the power of the narrative voice. I got to read about “Fire Woman” and “The Perfect Girl” and a pig named Sir Bruce, who was obsessed with chocolate chips. I learned that the bumpiest thing in the world is “a cliff made out of high heels and super glue” and the stinkiest thing in the world is “a boy wearing unwashed socks for 100,000,000,000 days.”

After reading “The Witch’s Story” by poet Lawrence Raab, I asked the students to create their own villains. Writing from a wicked point of view, the girls explored their dark, powerful sides, creating fabulous characters such as “Green” and the “Weird Woman.” They then went “ego-tripping” with poet Nikki Giovanni, challenging themselves to create the most fantastic brag of all time.

The girls also wrote about their names, many exploring their feelings about them for the first time. Did you know the name “Nelley” smells like pumpkin and tastes like a cookie with vanilla, or that “Sierra” feels like an awesome spring shower?

I can’t wait for you to read the work produced in these workshops. The pieces are interesting, kooky, funny, weird and profound–just like this group of girls.

Carolyn Cohagan
Badgerdog Teaching Artist



My name is Selina, but everyone calls me Green because I’m green. I live in the forest in a wooden house. Just now, I’m eating a little girl. It’s not my fault, it’s hers. She came in my little house. She was freezing and wet. I felt bad, but somehow she went into my belly. We were having so much fun, and it felt good being with someone because I’m always alone.

Elizabeth Cabrera

Poor Sir Bruce

Once upon a time, a pig named Sir Bruce found a jar filled with chocolate chips. His mom told him not to get in the jar because he would get stuck.

The pig said he was just going to lick one chocolate chip. The mom said, “Okay. But careful.”

The pig walked up to the jar. He licked one chocolate chip. “Mmmmm,” said the pig. Sir Bruce looked at his mom, and she was not even looking. The pig saw the biggest chocolate chip.

The pig, Sir Bruce, tried to find the biggest chocolate chip in the jar. He ate the biggest chocolate chip. He tried to get out, but he couldn’t get out. All night, he screamed, Help!

Eventually, his parents moved, and they forgot about Sir Bruce. Nobody went to help him. The little chocolate chips turned into mud. The pig couldn’t move. The pig thought his parents would come, but he died.

To be continued . . .

Ashley Fernandez

Sir Bruce’s Story

Once upon a time, there was a pig named Sir Bruce. Sir Bruce got out of bed in his two-story building and went to buy some groceries.

On his way to the market, he found himself with Butcher, a big and scary pig. After Butcher had been tripped by Sir Bruce, he said, “I’m gonna get you. Maybe today or maybe tomorrow, but I will get you.”

After Sir Bruce went for the groceries, he went back to his house and started to make breakfast and think about when Butcher was going to get him. Later that day, when Sir Bruce was going to bed, he got worried that he could not go to sleep.

When morning came, Sir Bruce woke up and did his morning routine, but he was still thinking about when Butcher was going to get him.

Sir Bruce ate breakfast and watched TV. He decided to go outside and plant.

To be continued . . .

Isabel Capetillo Hernandez


The Truest Thing

The softest thing is a tree made of feathers with puppies on it.
The most difficult thing is climbing a mountain so high it’s in outer space and made of cookie batter.
The bumpiest thing is a cliff made of high heels and super glue.
The stickiest thing is super glue mixed with syrup on a puppy in a heat wave.
The noisiest thing is a cat that is very huffy and always pampered.
The funniest thing is a puppy riding an elephant riding a car.
The slowest thing is a panda riding a turtle going ten times slower than it should be.
The truest thing is nothing.

Ella King

Ego Tripping (Don’t Get Me Mad!)

– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego-Tripping” 

If you ever get me mad… Oh, no you didn’t!

When I get mad, I become a dark, scary figure walking on the street, terrorizing the city. When I get mad, I become Rose Wilson (with all those sharp gadgets)! So, sweetheart, don’t you ever mess with me because I will terrorize you! Don’t stare at me directly in the eyes when I’m mad because you will feel real pain in the neck. You will see the scariest thing you will ever see. So, watch out beautiful. Don’t even look at me when I’m mad because the universe will punish you! So, remember this! And don’t forget it because I will become your worst nightmare. And you might be next!

Diana Cruz Martinez

My Name

– after Sandra Cisneros’s “My Name”

My name is like the number ten. My name is the same in Spanish and English. It’s like a light blue. My name is like being scared of heights. It’s like being all the time happy or excited. It’s like having the best day ever or riding a roller coaster.

Samantha Mata


Fire Girl

I am Fire Woman, and my name is Mrs. Firelocks. I love to fire children a lot, and I burn them with my hair. I turn them into fried coboble sticks and then I eat them. I have a dragon that helps me. It can burn water, so you better watch out. You better not cry because Fire Girl is coming to get you. If you want to know how I look, then you can come and see me. Moowhahahaha.

P.S. I like ice cream and don’t judge me.

P.P.S. Bum, bum, bum.

Da’Resiah Thomas

What Should I Do Next

– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego-Tripping”

When I cry, I make a new river.
When I am mad, I cause hurricanes.
When I am happy, I can create an island paradise.
When I am curious, I use a tornado to carry me across the world.
But when I am bored, I snap my fingers and they create lightning.
When I was eight years old, I got a mansion of my own.
And when I am in love, it can cause flowers to bloom in winter.
When I am jealous, I clap my hands and that person is gone.
I never have really known where they go.
But, on the other hand, I don’t care.
When I feel greedy, I can make people bow down to me.
And, who knows? If I get jealous, you might be next!

Serenity Vigil

My Name

– after Sandra Cisneros’s “My Name”

My name is like the Number Three. It’s really lame and really short.
It’s like stepping in mud and cleaning your room.
My name is like vomiting. Every time you say my name, it makes you sick.
But the worst part is: This is my name for my whole life. It’s really ugly.
Sometimes I feel beautiful like a rose.

Amy Zavala


My Awesome Self!

– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego-Tripping”

My eyes are so light brown, they look like sand on the beach.
When I smile, everyone starts taking pics.
When I wink, everyone in the fifty states starts getting love eyes.
When I walk out the door, the limo knows where I am.
When I put on blush, my fans say, “You do not need makeup.”
When I talk, everyone thinks I’m singing.
When I was born, it was such a hit on the news and the radio.
When I clean up, I am called a mer-maid.
When it’s spring, they call me Flower.
But all the people who are reading this just know.
I am a beautiful and ready-to-fight woman.
I strike like a snake.
I’m as pretty as Marilyn Monroe.
I’m as hot as a ghost pepper.
I’m as shiny as a piece of gold.
I am a strong woman.

P.S. Always believe in yourself, especially if you are a girl.

Sierra Botello

My Name

– after Sandra Cisneros’s “My Name”

My name, my lovely name.
When I think about my name, I pronounce it and pronounce it all over again . . .
When I think about my name, I think, How does my name smell? My name smells like a fat, old pumpkin.
Sometimes I think about how my lovely names tastes. Sometimes I barely get to taste it and it tastes like a cookie with vanilla.
Or I think about how it sounds. I think it sounds like an alien pronouncing it.
When I think about my name, I think about how it feels and how it looks and I think it feels like sliding out of a bunch of pillows, and I think that my name looks like a slide when it’s written in cursive.
When I think about me, I think about how I cry and how I laugh hard. When I cry, it’s like a rainy day during a windy spring, and when I laugh hard, it’s like a big storm.

Nelley Castro

The Perfect Girl

– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego-Tripping”

I’m so perfect that my perfection out-perfects the word perfect. My hair is so important that I have to get $1,000 shampoos and conditioners sent from Paris to Hollywood. I’m so important and perfect that the queen of England bows before me whenever my name is mentioned. Or, if I want to visit, then I take my $400,000 gold jet to her castle. She has a private landing format just for me! For dinner, we dine on a feast just for two. We drink melted gold and eat the rarest food we can get. I wear a golden gown, and I’m the royal guest at the ball and Prince Nichols always says I look beautiful in diamonds and gold. We dance the night away, and I am not surprised at all when he says, “I love you.” I make the world tremble when I’m mad. I make the world bow to me and me alone, and let’s not forget I own South America, Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica. I’m working on North America right as we speak. If you think you’re better than me, I’ll sell you and make you work for me. So, the next time you think you can out-perfect me, come and visit sometime. I live at Hollywood at Perfect Drive on Perfect Perfection View (trust me you don’t want to mess with me). Ciao, ciao now.

Aliya Morales


Sir Bruce’s Nightmare

Part I

Once upon a time, there was a blade of grass named Bruce, with two arms, two legs, and a fancy hat. He lived in the meadow. One day, the news came on the TV. It said that a tornado was coming from the north toward Bruce’s home and would hit in two hours and twenty minutes! Bruce packed all his things and grabbed a compass and left going south. When it was noon, out of nowhere, there was a tornado coming straight in his path! The tornado caught Bruce and put him in a skinny bottle. Bruce could not get out. Will Bruce ever get out?

Part II

“Help me,” screamed Bruce.

Then a gigantic monster came toward him.

“Hello,” said the monster. “What seems to be the trouble?”

“I can’t get out of this bottle,” screamed Bruce.

“I can grab a skinny stick and put it in the bottle so you can climb up,” said the monster.

“Great idea,” said Bruce, filled with hope.

In two minutes, he was free!

“Thank you, monster,” said Sir Bruce.

“You’re welcome,” said the monster.

Bruce and the monster became great friends. So, when you are in trouble, a friend will help you.

Jayleen Maldonado

My Name!

– after Sandra Cisneros’s “My Name”

My name is Adrianna.
My name smells like apples on a cinnamon stick.
My name tastes like summer on a hot day.
My name sounds like screaming on my birthday.
My name feels like hot coal.
My name looks like the roundness of a bouncy ball.
I am like a jewel on a cloudy day.
When I cry, it’s like a baby boy whining.
When I laugh hard, I shoot snot out my nose.

Adrianna Hodge

Sir Bruce

One day, Sir Bruce was walking down the street. A guy wanted to kill him because Sir Bruce had done something bad to him many years ago. So, when Sir Bruce saw the guy, he got scared because he did not want to die. But then the guy got him and put him in a jar. Sir Bruce did not eat for twenty years. The guy did not want to let go of Sir Bruce, but someone finally found him and got him out of the jar.

To be continued . . .

Destiney Sandoval


My Name . . .

– after Sandra Cisneros’s “My Name”

My name smells like hot cocoa.
My name tastes like cookies and milk.
My name sounds like jingle bells.
My name feels like Christmas is coming.
My last name looks like something special.
I am like a butterfly.
When I cry, it’s like my heart is burning.
When I laugh hard, my face looks like a baboon’s butt.

Angela Prado

The Weird Woman

Hello. My name is Angela, and I was born in 1983 on October 31. But Angela is not my name anymore. My name is the Weird Woman now. They used to call me Angela when I was innocent, but now I’m not. I’m a killer now, and this is the story of why they call me Weird Woman.

Nine years ago, I had a family, but I hated them. The only people I loved were my parents. They were the only people I liked because everyone else in the family bullied me a lot.

One day, I got tired of the bullying, and I decided to protect myself. My sisters and I got into an argument, and we started calling each other names. I lost control, and we accidentally stabbed each other. I lost even more control, and I stabbed myself.

All of us went to the hospital. Since I hated everyone there, I escaped. Since that day, I’ve been eating people and killing people, and that’s why my name is Weird Woman.

Anahi Aguilar

The Jar

Once upon a time, the biggest whale named De’Resiah the Queen and her two kids, Ella and Jayleen, ate twenty pieces of seacake. Da’Resiah was playing but washed up onto the beach. Then three girls — Nicole, Angela, and Adrianna — came out and put Da’Resiah in a jar. But Adrianna and Angela felt bad and saved her.

P.S. Nicole died because she was evil.

Nicole Arellano


Falling Off a Broom

The softest thing is a baby bear’s fur.
The most difficult thing is to face your fear.
The bumpiest thing is a cupcake with no frosting.
The stickiest thing is a super glue monster.
The noisiest thing is a horrible woman’s snoring.
The funniest thing is a witch falling off a broom.
The slowest thing is a brainless blind zombie.
The flattest thing is a squashed pancake.
The stinkiest thing is a giant’s fart.
The truest thing is a zombie apocalypse will kill you.

 Michel Santoyo


Girls with Pens at Perez Elementary

The fourth-grade girls who joined our Girls With Pens workshop had no idea what they were in for. They sat with me around a table in the library after school, pencils in hand, wondering what on earth I expected them to do. But within no time, they were writing stories about aliens, pigs, and what it would be like to take a tumble through their minds. These girls are smart, imaginative, and absolutely hilarious. Our time together was too short, and I hope that each one of them continues to write and test the boundaries of their imaginations.

Carolyn Cohagan
Badgerdog Teaching Artist



– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping”

I was born in Congo.
When I sneeze, tornadoes erupt.
When I get mad, I cough earthquakes.
When I get happy, flowers start to bloom.
When I laugh, trees grow.
When I get sad, the leaves fall off the trees.
When I get excited, I shake all the animals.
When I get grumpy, it starts to rain so much that it floods.

Alize Alvarez


Ego Tripping

– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping”

When I scream, I break the glass.
When I sing, I scare everybody in the world.
When I was born, I made jewels with my powers.
When I talk, I punch everybody.
When I was growing up, my laugh was really different.
When I was not born, my mom ruled the world like God, but better than him.
When I wasn’t born, my dad was like my mom.
When I was little, me and my sister Faith were princesses. We got everything we wanted, and we loved it so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so much. We got free cable and wi-fi.
We were so lucky.
When I am happy, the sun sets and the flowers bloom.

Destiny Alvarez


Cool Bragging

– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping”

When I sneeze, I cause a hurricane.
When I get mad, I cause the stars to fall.
I sat on a throne and declared that the king and queen would be my servants.
I made the 16-story mansion with diamonds and gold. They scrubbed it 20 times a day.
I have all the power in the UNIVERSE! I control all my power.
I was the one who swam in hot lava. I floated up, being the most beautiful.

Alyssa Hernandez



– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping”

When I laugh, the world shakes.
I’m the Queen of Italy.
I know all languages. English, Spanish, Japanese.
I am perfect.
I can freeze you.
I’m perfect at all subjects.
I have a plant of jewels and diamonds.
In fact, I brought some today.
I can read as fast as a cheetah running.
When I am mad, lightning strikes. The fire comes up, up, up.
I can run 100 miles per hour.
You will never catch me.
I own 50 mansions.
I’m the oldest daughter.
I’m the boss of you.
When you are mean to me, I make a cloud above you and it will rain on you.
So, you should start listening because I’m just getting started.

Emmaree Hernandez


The Best Poem

– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping”

I am better because I like books.
I am better because I am good at math.
I am better because I am so, so good at reading.
I am better because I was born in Florida.
I am better because I am funny.
I am better because I am cool.
I am better because I am good at writing and pictures.
I am better because I know more biographies.
I am better because I’m nice.

Mariajose Osorto Herrera


Go Crazy!

Go and run through my mind, but don’t you mess with me or you will regret it. That’s a promise. Sorry for that. Now run, skip, jog, leap, walk if you’re tired, jump, bounce, stomp, and many more. First, go through books and read because you might like it or you might not. Find all the books I read and find the library where you can read. Go and run through P.E. because it has a lot of activities and the gym teacher will let you run, jump, bounce, and go crazy. Then go and bounce to art, but not too much or you will get in trouble. You can go and make a lot of art and get out of my mind. J.K. Then go to all my dreams. You will find all my happy dreams or my sad dreams and some scary dreams, but do not be scared. It is just a dream, I promise. Then go with a buddy and leap frog so you can see my summer room. You can go to the beach and have a lot of fun, if you can go to summer camp and do activities and a lot of fun things. Then go to my song room. You can dance in my song room and jam out a lot. Then go and twirl to math. Find all my friends and my teacher. She is sick, but you will find my substitute, Mrs. Cory. She is nice. Then fly to my favorite color, green. Do not take my green. Hop to the exit. I hope you like my mind.

P.S. My mind is better.

Delia Martinez


The Best

– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping”

I am the ruler.
When you see me,
I will hypnotize you.

My hair is so soft
that they use it as blankets.

When I cry, I create
bodies of water.

My eyes are so bright
that they shine
like stars.

When I cough, a breeze
goes around the

When I was born, many
wonderful things
appeared, and the sun
was born.

Jimena Martinez


Ego Tripping

– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping”

When I am happy, the leaves turn green.
When I laugh, the world shakes.
When I am sad, it rains hard.
When I get mad, everybody falls.
I will always make something happen.
I can run more than one hundred miles per hour.
You will always be tired when you play with me.
But when it’s time to attack, I can be loud and sometimes even shake the trees.
When it’s summer, and I jump in the pool and the sky shines.

Valentina Mora


My Evil World

– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping”

When I was born, people
got scared. I’m so evil.

When I’m bored, I send my
little minions to go get me some games to play with.

When I dance, some people
cry because I’m good at it.

People get blind because
of my beauty. I’m so evil.

I have little slaves.
They help me a lot with my homework.

When I burp, the world shakes
and people get scared.

When I get sad, my little minions come
and give me tissues.

When I want to go to the movies and I have no money,
I steal money from my minions.

Lizeth Negrete


I’m So Strong

– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping”

When I stomp, the leaves fall from the trees.
My house is made of sparkly diamonds.
My clothes are made out of glitter and diamonds.
When I think, the ground shakes.
When I bump my head, it starts to rain really hard.
Once, when I coughed, it made the Grand Canyon.
I am always right. I never get anything wrong.
I can control the weather.
I am so strong, I can fly like the birds in the sky.
I am so bright, something hurts when you see me.

Brianna Parker


Jo Jo Saves Sugar Town

Once, there was a monster named Jo Jo. He lived in a tall, dark forest close to a land full of sugary candy. A guy he saw named Mr. Sugar Crusher had a magic orb. Jo Jo saw the magic orb and he chased him and fell over. Jo Jo had to save the people from Sugar Town. Jo Jo went into a little cave and he saw a map. The map was a plan. On the back, it said, “Mr. Sugar Crusher’s plan to be king of Sugar Town.” Jo Jo read the plan. Jo Jo found an island. He saw Mr. Sugar Crusher running. He chased him like a spy. Jo Jo caught up to him, but he was tired and fell asleep. Jo Jo had a huge problem. Jo Jo didn’t see Mr. Sugar Crusher. He saw another map. The map was a plan to hide it somewhere else, so Mr. Sugar Crusher hid it on another island. Jo Jo swam to the closest island. He found Mr. Sugar Crusher and he had hid it and Jo Jo freaked out. Jo Jo went back to the island where he had been before. He found something shiny in a large and long bush. But it wasn’t the magic orb. It was a diamond. Jo Jo went to the other island and found a map. It said, “If found, please burn or eat.” But Jo Jo did not eat or burn it. What Jo Jo did was study it. He knew it was Mr. Sugar Crusher’s map. Mr. Sugar Crusher wanted it burned so no one would learn his plan to rule Sugar Town. Jo Jo followed the little ink footprints and walked all the way. It led to a secret lair and it had many locks. One was an eye lock, but there were his real eyes next to Jo Jo. The other lock was a voice lock. Jo Jo knew how Mr. Sugar Crusher sounded. She tried to do his voice and it worked!!! The last lock had a rock lock. All you needed to do was throw a rock at it and enter. Jo Jo entered. Mr. Sugar Crusher was on a stool. He tried to hypnotize Jo Jo to help Mr. Sugar Crusher rule Sugar Town. Jo Jo saw Mr. Sugar Crusher walk away from the magic orb, so Jo Jo grabbed the magic orb and ran away. Jo Jo went back to the first island. Mr. Sugar Crusher felt so, so stupid. Everyone in Sugar Town was happy. To celebrate Jo Jo, they ate 5 out of 32. They celebrated by dancing for at least five years. Five years later, Mr. Sugar Crusher came and people tried to fight him. But he said, “I am so sorry, and I won’t try to do anything bad ever again.” So they trusted him, and so did Jo Jo, who now lived in Sugar Town with her friends.

Yadira Paz


The Most Best!

– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping”

When I stare into someone’s eyes, they blow up like a balloon then they turn into little pieces. When I get mad, I make tornados. When I sneeze, everything shakes. I am stronger than an elephant. I can actually carry 100 elephants at once with my pinky. I am so pretty that everyone is jealous of me. When I stomp, there is going to be an earthquake. When I was born, I was really strong and I knew how to read a ninth-grade book! I am always right, and I always get my tests right and I always get a 100!! My grades are all A++ !!! I can live up to 1,000,000 years, and I look so, so, so, so, so young. I know how to karate chop 100 bricks at one time. One time, I found fossils and gold and diamonds and other good stuff. I use my powers to control time and the future!

Angela Prado



– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping”

I am better because I was born in Texas.
I am a cool person, and I am a beautiful girl.
I gave my little cousin a little toy.
I am 10 years old.
I wish I could see my little cousin.
He died and flies like a bird in the sky.
I am evil, like a person who talks and runs.
People go blind because of my beauty.
An evil that no one can see.
When I get sad, my little tears come down and my mom comes and tells me stories.
When my mom tells me stories, she makes me happy, like a person who laughs, like the person who is happiest in life.
When I put my sweater on, I feel so warm.

Leslie Quijada



When I woke up in my mom’s body, I woke up like my mom. Then I went to the bathroom, and I looked like my mom. I screamed, but then I realized that it’s okay because I can drive, go to the store by myself, and I don’t have to go to school. I am so happy I look like my mom because I can do whatever I want! But I’m worried… what if my mom knows and she is so confused and thinks that I know someone who does magic!

Vivianna Tovar


The Fight of Periwinkle and Mr. Evil

One time, there was a girl named Periwinkle. She lived in a tunnel full of monsters. But she had a problem. Her problem was that she needed food for her people or they would eat her. She needed to go fight the villain, Mr. Evil. They called him Mr. Evil because he was so evil. One day, Periwinkle went to Mr. Evil’s lair. Then she went to fight him. It took them forty minutes. But Periwinkle won. Then Periwinkle got the orb, but something happened.

To be continued . . .

Sophia Urdiales


My Red Dress

– after Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping”

When I put on a dress, it’s too red.
I change my dress into a skirt.
It hurts when I scream.
I’m out of breath
and when I look at the mirror,
I see my beautiful face.
I go outside.
I see a butterfly.
When it flies, the wings are beautiful.
When I see a bee, it looks at me. I get scared. I want it to fly away.
When I go to the pool, it looks like the ocean.
I get scared because I think there are sharks.
I eat spaghetti. It looks like worms, but I eat it.

Melissa Vazquez

Loss and Its Strange, Disquieting Partner: Hope

This poem haunts me in ways I can only half describe.  For instance, I love the image of the lost dog “playing in the volcano /  with her friends / throwing pieces of candy.”  That line seems like the perfect way to approach the whole tone of the poem: On the one hand, the dog is lost—maybe even dead—and playing in the dangerous space of the volcano.  On the other hand, the dog is with friends and tossing around candy. The whole poem pivots in this way between sadness and beauty–between longing and its subtleties.  By the time you arrive at those stunning closing lines—”I will become like a fish. / I know very well that I will.” —you have been on a journey through loss alongside its strange, disquieting partner: hope.

—Sasha West, poet and Badgerdog’s Director of Development

Perros abandonados
(Balada de la gran tormenta)

—inspirado por “Iglesia abandonada (Balada de la gran guerra)” de Federico García Lorca

Yo tenía una perra que se llamaba Cloe.
Yo tenía una perra.
Se perdió con los muertos.
La vi jugando en el volcán
con sus amigas
echando pedazos de dulces.
Cuando la perdí, pensé,
¡Mi perra! ¡Mi perra! ¡Mi perra!
Yo tenía un perro
y comprendí que estaba sólo
en la cueva.
Yo tenía una perra y un perro.
Yo tenía los dos desde que nacieron.
No tenía bastante para cuidarlos en mi pobre casa. ¡Ay, mis perros!
Yo los amaba con todo mi pobre corazón.
Yo tenía una perra y un perro que eran bailarines,
pero sin ellos me muero.
Si me muero, estará pronto.
Yo no los dejo,
ni siquiera para salir de la casa.
¡Si mis perros hubieran estado locos!
Me volveré como un pez.
Yo sé muy bien que lo haré.

Abandoned Dogs
(Ballad of the Great Storm)

—after Federico García Lorca’s “Rundown Church (Ballad of the First World War)”

I had a dog and her name was Chloe.
I had a dog.
She disappeared with the dead people.
I saw her playing in the volcano
with her friends
throwing pieces of candy.
When I lost her, I thought,
My dog! My dog! My dog!
I had another dog
and I understood that he was alone
in the cave.
I had two dogs.
I had them since they were born.
I had too little to take care of them in my poor house.
Oh, my dogs!
I loved them with all of my poor heart.
I had two dogs who were ballet dancers,
but without them I will die.
If I die, it will be soon.
I won’t leave them,
not even to leave the house.
If my dogs had only been crazy!
I will become like a fish.
I know very well that

Areli, fourth grade, Ms. Rodriguez’s class, Perez Elementary School

*This beautiful poem, and so many more, are included in Rise, our newest anthology of elementary school writing.

Surviving Fire

To continue our celebration of National Poetry Month, we have a special ekphrastic poem for you this afternoon! Badgerdog took Mr. Villegas’s fourth grade classroom at Perez Elementary (along with three other classes at Perez and eighteen other classrooms from Austin, Manor, and Del Valle school districts) to visit the El Anatsui exhibit at the Blanton Museum last fall. El Anatsui’s remarkable Akua’s Surviving, which speaks to the slave trade and the conditions of humanity, inspired Ariana’s poem.

El Anatsui's Akua's Surviving Children

Surviving Children

There was a furious fire
that showed on the ocean.
Kids were just having a good
old time like everyday.

When the twelve girls came screaming,
“Fire! Fire! Run for your lives!”

So they ran to their home. Nobody
believed them. They did not

Those twelve girls started
the world again.

Ariana, fourth grade, Perez Elementary School

Spring Is Like a Perhaps Camping

And now for the winner of our Spring Poem Contest:  “Spring Is Like a Perhaps Camping,” a beautiful poem by Kayla, a fourth grader in Ms. La Touf’s class at Perez Elementary.  Kayla wrote the poem as a response to reading and discussing e.e. cummings’ “Spring is like a perhaps hand” during her Badgerdog workshop with teaching-artist Claire Sylvester Smith.


We’ve distributed poem cards with Kayla’s wonderful words at restaurants throughout Austin.  We hope you’ll celebrate her words with us as we celebrate spring—and hope it will last a very long time and that summer is a long ways away!


A Waking, Walking Dream of Spring

To continue our celebration of National Poetry Month, here’s a poem from Kevin, a fourth grader at Perez Elementary.  Kevin’s “A Waking, Walking Dream of Spring” was a finalist for Badgerdog’s Spring Poem Contest. In his poem, Kevin writes about a different type of spring, one where he finds unknown substances, creates a portal, and watches the outside world from a mysterious place.  Kevin’s poem reminds us that springtime has that unique ability to transport us into our most vivid dreams, whether we are awake or asleep.

A Waking, Walking Dream of Spring

I’m outside my house and I touch the fish
in the pool. I start digging a hole
and I find a weird substance called obsidian—
it’s pitch black. I see a person fighting
and playing around with their dog
in the grass. I go back to make a portal
with the obsidian—the portal looks like
a rectangle. I go inside because I need to eat
some chicken soup, then I come back out
and get the matches out of my pocket
and light the side of the portal. When I get
to the other place, I can’t get out.

 Kevin, fourth grade, Perez Elementary School

Pants! For National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month! To celebrate, we’ll be featuring a new poem on Unbound each day!

Today, we’re featuring Julissa from Ms. Rodriguez’s class at Perez Elementary School.


—inspirado por “Momias” de Nicanor Parra

Un pantalón se peina los bolsillos
Otro pantalón canta Hannah Montana
Otro pantalón come del piso.

Un pantalón brinca en un pantano
Otro pantalón se roda en lodo.

Un pantalón hace un pillow fight
Otro pantalón escribe un poema
Otro pantalón se pinta la cara.

Todos los pantalones están en una limosina
Casi todos los pantalones abren sus regalos.

Varios pantalones se toman fotos
Unos pantalones se comen sopa de letras
Un pantalón se come sopa de hongos.

Un pantalón canta y baila
con Justin Bieber.


—after Nicanor Parra’s “Mummies”

One pair of pants combs its pockets
Another pair of pants sings Hannah Montana
Another pair of pants eats off the floor.

One pair of paints jumps in the swamp
Another pair of pants rolls in mud.

One pair of pants has a pillow fight
Another pair of pants writes a poem
Another pair of pants puts on makeup.

All of the pants are in a limousine
Almost all of the pants open their presents.

Some pants take pictures
A few pants eat letter soup
One pair of pants eats mushroom soup.

One pair of pants sings and dances
with Justin Bieber.

Julissa, fourth grade, Perez Elementary School


Destiny, a poet from Ms. LaTouf’s fourth grade class at Perez Elementary, writes an inspiring poem that reminds us of the beauty of childhood innocence. Destiny uses repetition in the beginning of each line to strengthen her beliefs and give each of them their own significance.  What may seem like trivial tasks to us—walking our pet, brushing our teeth, and keeping our home clean—are important and necessary to Destiny.  She inspires us to value these seemingly effortless tasks, to appreciate our own memories of childhood (such as sleeping, roaming freely, and having fun), and to take care of the world around us.

I Believe

I believe in God.
I believe it should snow every day.
I believe drugs are bad.
I believe kids should have fun in their childhoods.
I believe kids should have phones.
I believe love is in people’s hands.
I believe the world needs to stay clean.
I believe dogs can do what they want.
I believe cats can have treats.
I believe life is fun.
I believe more things should be free.
I believe kids should work.
I believe people should keep their houses clean.
I believe cats are cute and funny.
I believe you should treat your dog nicely.
I believe you should take your animal for walks.
I believe people should brush their teeth.
I believe people should not be bullied.
I believe flowers should grow.
I believe people have rights to do what they want.
I believe hate is a strong word.
I believe water is good for you.
I believe kids should go to school.
I believe computers are fun.
I believe kids should get lots of sleep.

Destiny, fourth grade, Perez Elementary School

Making (Un)common Sense

Freddy and Diana, poets from Mr. Villegas’ fourth grade class at Perez Elementary, are connoisseurs of unique facts: rivers on Mars are made of Kool-Aid, purple feels like October inside a hairy piano. Freddy and Diana help us remember that our dreams feed our technologies, and when we pay attention to our senses, we connect with the world in a special way, which might just be the first step to making it better.


White tastes like blankness and salt.
It smells like nothing but coconuts and paper.
It sounds like a paper screaming not to write on it.
It feels like paper air and smooth, white erasers.


The Red River

I’m writing from a big planet inside Mars that has a little river of red Kool-Aid I’m writing on with a cup. The river sounds like an ocean with lots of waves. It looks dangerous, and it tastes sweet and sugary and wonderful. The air pulls at a few dots of Kool-Aid and splashes them all over me.



Purple smells like a book cover inside a happy face.
It feels like October inside a hairy piano.
It sounds like a purple flower with a bee taking its nectar.
It tastes like the number ten inside a piece of chalk.



I am writing inside October
with a book cover
and I smell letters
with a telephone inside them.



My sanctuary is a clock. When I get inside my clock, I see a bunch of numbers. I smell numbers, and I touch numbers. Numbers, numbers, numbers. My bed is made out of numbers and my clothes, too. Even the pencil I’m writing with is made out of numbers. They are driving me crazy. Even I am made out of numbers.


It’s twelve o’clock. I am going to sleep.


The Way of Life

GrassyHillWhen I wake up I can see
The blue calm sky over my head.
I can smell the raspberry wind.
Sometimes it is chilly,
But I can grab my baby blue sweater.
After that good day,
I can have my little treat, my raspberry lollipop.

Citalli, fourth grade, Perez Elementary School