All Submissions for Ten Thousand Things: Water

 TT Voices Water Image Title with Logo

Through Ten Thousand Voices we seek to invite our audiences and communities to write and express themselves. This program was born during the beginning of the pandemic out of the need to stay connected and uplift the voices of those in severe lockdowns. We are so happy to continue this now yearly program, and welcome citizens from corrections, senior facilities and students in high schools. We asked them to write inspired by prompts that explore Water as a theme. Creativity can flow in surprising ways when it's nurtured and given space it is truly astonishing to discover how many artistic souls we have in our midst. - Marcela Lorca, Artistic Director, Ten Thousand Things Theater

2022 Submissions

Minnesota Correctional Facilities (MCF)

By Alipio at MCF – Faribault

During 1980. Fidel Castro released people from mental health facilities and prisons … he put them on boats and sent them to the United States.

After that, Castro then closed his communist country’s borders, preventing its citizens from leaving. Then in 1994, Castro appeared on television one day, and announced that anybody wanting to leave Cuba could now go. Because Castro could change his mind at any time, I made a decision to leave.

My decision was very difficult. I did not know what awaited me once my feet left dry land. I spoke with my family the week prior to leaving — I knew they did not want me to risk my life, but they said nothing. One of my brothers lived in Miami. He arrived in 1992. Working as a landscaper, he would send money to his family still in Cuba. It was this brother that convinced me to take the risk and come to the United States for better opportunities. He sent me money to purchase the materials I needed to build my raft. My plan began immediately after Castro’s announcement. I started collecting the supplies I needed to build my raft. Many of these supplies were sourced from several areas around Cuba. The only transportation I had was a bicycle. It was quite the balancing act on my bike carrying two large pieces of styrofoam for 70 kilometers. I must have looked crazy because I was stopped by the police. They gave me a ticket for riding my bike recklessly. They knew I was using this material for my raft, so it was highly likely they were just looking for a bribe. I never paid the fine. I continued to collect my supplies.

The next items on my list were the two large truck innertubes to keep the raft afloat. A friend of mine, who accompanied me on my trip, located the innertubes. Eventually, there would be four of us on this raft. The other two salvaged the necessary two-by-fours and the rope we would need to tie everything together.

On August 30, 1994, we made this the day of our departure. Our families met with us on the beach and we began our good-byes. The feeling I was getting was more akin to a funeral than just good-bye. We all knew we would likely never see one another again. Both my parents had passed away, but the rest of my family, four sisters, eight brothers, and my three-year-old daughter were there. My brother, Eddie, joked that my raft was so sound that we could all sail to Alaska.

In our raft, we had the minimum of supplies to sustain ourselves for four to five days. We had pre-cooked pasta, 20 gallons of water, flashlights, blankets, and lastly, a bottle of rum. The rum was only to be used if our situation became so dire, we wanted our lives to end with a celebration.

We needed five to seven attempts to get over the breaking waves rushing to the shore. After each attempt, our desire to leave weakened. The weather finally broke just enough to allow us to get over the waves. I had made eight paddles to use on our trip and two of them were now broken. Early that morning, we were free of the beach. Our anxiety was running high and so was our determination to now continue.

As darkness approached that first day, and with the help of the ocean currents, we lost sight of the land. We did not sleep. As the moon rose above us, we knew that we could use the moonbeam on the water, pointing north to guide us because we did not have a compass.

The next day, August 31, we were again having doubts about our trip. We prayed to St. Barbara, to watch over us and guide us to safety. We still had not eaten our food, thinking we may have to ration it beyond the five days we packed for. With our feet dangling in the water, we continued to paddle, not sure if we were still headed to Florida, or veering east and missing Florida and headed into the Atlantic Ocean. We didn’t see any sharks, but we were entertained and kept company with several dolphins and some whales.

At approximately 4 p,m,, from out of nowhere, as if rising from the sea, a person appeared riding on a large jet-ski. The jet-skier turned out to be an officer with the United States Coast Guard. The first thing the officer asked was, “Where are you going?” and we replied, “the U.S.A.” We were overjoyed about our rescue and began hooting and yelling about our luck.

Then I began to cry. I had reached the point of wanting to go back home.

The officer told us that we were 32 miles from the U.S. coastline and about 60 miles from Cuba. After he asked if anyone was injured, we said no and just wanted to get out of the water and to be safe. He gave each of us personal flotation devices and loaded us onto his machine. The last thing he did was to paint the raft orange and then he stuck his knife into the innertubes. When I asked about the orange paint, I was told it was to let the Coast Guard pilots know that the raft had been abandoned while they were patrolling the water.

When we climbed aboard the Coast Guard ship, we discovered over 1,000 other refugees rescued from the ocean. We stayed aboard the ship for one more day as more rescues occurred.

The next day, the ship arrived at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As everyone was gathered at the U.S. Naval Base, we were told that an estimated number of 5,000 people had fled Cuba. Of that number, only 3,000 people were rescued. As my friends and I talked among the others, we realized that many of our other friends and acquaintances were not with us.

My first stay at Guantanamo Bay was six months long. While there, everyone lived in tents. Our tents were arranged into groups called camps. I was staying in Camp Delta. Each tent had twelve people. In my tent, I was awoken several times by others having nightmares. There was a lot of crying at night across the camp. The food was exceptionally good. We had three meals per day, along with snacks. A special treat given to us was peanut butter. We also got one pack of cigarettes.

A surprise at Guantanamo Bay was the number of alligators roaming the base. The Navy had a hands-off policy. They were adamant about allowing alligators the right-of-way.

The Marines kept us busy with many activities. We would volunteer with base cleaning and helping in the kitchen. Some days we would organize baseball games. There were many children on the base, despite Castro forbidding children to leave the island. The children were kept hidden from the eyes of the Cuban Government. Many women became babysitters, while many of the mothers volunteered to cook.

To keep morale high, the U.S. Government brought in many entertainers of Cuban descent to the island. Gloria Estefan, Jon Secada, Desi Arnez, Jr., and Celia Cruz were just a few.

When immigration arrived to process everyone, I was one of the last. Because of this delay, my family had been notified that I had not made it. About a month later, while my family was planning my funeral, my brother Jesus who lived in Miami, received a call that I was alive and now being processed.

My next move after Guantanamo was to Panama. The president of Panama offered visas to several hundred of us. We were flown to the U.S. Naval Base there. After three months of restlessness, there was unrest among the new arrivals. Fights and small riots were breaking out against the U.S. Military. The president of Panama changed his mind and told the U.S. to return us refugees back to Guantanamo. I hated to leave because we’re fed steaks everyday.

Back at Guantanamo, we received good news. We were going to go to the U.S. President Clinton and President Castro had made a deal. The U.S. would accept the refugees, but any attempts in the future would be returned to Cuba. The policy was called “Wet feet/Dry Feet”.

On October 26, 1995, I arrived in Miami and was greeted by my brother, Jesus. From then on, my life was changed forever.


The Voice of Water
By Angie at MCF – Shakopee

I can bring you healing. I can bring you happiness. I can also bring you sadness. With all of the emotions above equals Life. I feel everlasting gratitude when you allow me to show my power and break through. Our beautiful pain is one of a strong (ogitchi daa kwe) warrior woman. What took you so long to finally let me show my strength and help you? From this moment on when I come please allow me to make you feel human and a part of our own universe. Remember I am stored inside of you and we are naturally part of the process of the (Mino Bimaadiziwin) good life. We all belong on our Mother Earth. We are all connected spiritually. I want you to allow her spirit to be part of our journey and honor her trauma with love and courage.


The Voice of Water
By Big Tony at FreeWriters, Hennpin County Jail

I am clear but not see through. Some people in the world you can read but some you’ll never guess – think about it like that. I’m clear but not transparent. I’m all throughout the world – in your body. You might think you can get away from me, but I’m everywhere. I’m in the ocean. You might say I’ve got eyes everywhere ’cause I can see what’s at the bottom. I’m in the clouds and can come down on you whenever God commands. I am water.  


By Brian at MCF – Stillwater

Brandon and I sat down at a restaurant and were only given one glass of water, which is mine. But Brandon thinks it is his.

ME: Hey shithead, that’s my glass of water.

Brandon: No you sumbitch, that’s my glass of water

ME: If you don’t like that, that's my glass of water, we can step outside.

Brandon: Hey, Waitress, Can I get a glass of water, please?

Waitress: No, that’s the only glass of fresh water left.

ME: Well, what the hell kind of establishment is this, anyway?

Brandon: Don’t they have a dishwasher? This place is a dump.

ME: Well, I’ll pick a 5-star next time, you Bastard. How about this? I’ll drink the first half and you can have the rest?

Brandon: Why can’t I drink first and you can have sloppy seconds?

ME: You turd - why would I do that when sloppy is all, you know?

Brandon: Well, somebody has to go first. Might as well be me since I never get to.

ME: Alright, you go for it, since it will be the first and last time in your life that you’ll ever be first.


Glass of Water
By Brittany at MCF – Shakopee

ME: Excuse me, Enemy … As you see, we are here dining to resolve the issues at hand.

ENEMY: Yes, I believe that is why you invited me here, to talk about this one glass of water in front of us. Is it half full, or half empty?

ME: It is indubitably as one perceives it. From my perspective, it is half full. But I am really parched, so by the way I am taking the first gulp, now your vision might see it as half empty.

ENEMY: This is why I have missed you so much. Thanks for being open to this meeting of reconciliation, forgiveness and humility. Thanks for sharing your glass of water. Until next time …


By Brooks at MCF – Faribault

Clark was the hardworking type who owned a reputable construction company called All American Exteriors Inc. He had inherited the company from his father, along with the family farm. The job Clark was currently working on was damn near complete. Clark and his loyal employee, Joe, were tacking up long strips of white soffit beneath the overhang sheltering the front door of a three-level home. This particular contractor kept dark's crew busy in a new housing development located in the Twin Cities suburb of Maple Grove, Minnesota. Better Homes and gardens magazine had recently rated the city number five out of the top ten cities in America for quality tap water.

The company shirts were patriotic: a dominant bright red, bearing the American flag and All American name. Joe was expressing his excitement about a date he was supposed to be entertaining this coming weekend, Clark was no stranger to the construction worker lingo. Boys would indubitably be boys. But he wasn't too hunky-dory about the direction Joe's topic of conversation was heading.

"She kind of looks like Katy Perry with a touch of Down," Joe said.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Clark asked, as he carefully tacked another white trim-nail into the soffit overhead.

"It means she looks like Katy Perry with a slight hint of one extra chromosome," Joe answered, and could see the penny drop within Clark's mind as he grasped the implication.

"Not only is that not politically correct, but it's also downright disrespectful, Joe," Clark said, shaking his head in disapproval.

"I'm just messin around, Clark. Trying to get a rise outta ya. I don't actually think that nonsense, I didn't make it through three years of graduate school in psychology with just my boyish good looks to fall back on. Though they did help out."

"I know, Joe. But if this girl happens to be the one, and you're cracking jokes about her being retarded, karma might decide to intervene. You know, sometimes you make me wonder if you don't have an extra chromosome or two floating around inside you."

"Oh, that's real nice, boss. Way to rise up above your own hypocrisy. Now who's not being politically correct?" Joe asked.

"Hypocrisy ain't got a damn thing to do with it, Just make sure you leave your raggedy work manners in the dumpster here at the jobsite before you go out on your date," Clark countered. Just then the black Casio calculator watch on Clark's wrist beeped and it only beeped when there was a red alert. This was no drill. Danger was looming far beyond the horizon, danger in the form of a giant asteroid, one - of those global-killer types. The alarm meant he had a couple of days to make preparations. Turning off the alarm on his watch always made him feel like Captain Kirk from the old TV show Star Trek.

"Don't worry. I mean to exhibit some maturity. I promise to be on my best behavior," Joe replied, Remarks like that always set Clark's mind at ease —sir / yes, sir; I'm on top of it, sir; I'll being working around the clock until the job is complete, sir; your hair looks amazing today, sir — even if those words happened to be harmless little lies.

The ladder-rack on Clark's light blue '98 ford extended cab pickup truck was so overloaded with planks, pump-jacks, and extension ladders that it made the air in the tires protrude in a way that made it look almost cartoonish; the bed of the truck was a fine mess of tools and materials; the inside of the truck (or belly of the beast) acted as a mobile command center of sorts: there were hand-tools, paperwork, and discarded food wrappers in seemingly impossible places. There was also a case of nonalcoholic, carbonated drinking water, which Clark micro-brewed himself from the pond behind the barn. It was his hobby, his thing, his side project, and the case of pond water sat in place of the case of beer that had once occupied that space. Clark's life-changing decision to embrace sobriety by the gonads had made a once taxing job a whole hell of a lot easier, Clark spent a great deal of time in his Ford truck; he spent a great deal of time on the road.

This meant that Clark spent a great deal of time in rush hour traffic. Sometimes when a gaze wandering commuter happened to look over in Clark's general direction, while parked in the fast lane to nowhere, they would give witness to an unattractive middle-aged man with Coke-bottle eyeglasses and a serious case of male-pattern-baldness, digging shamelessly up his nose, then examining his prize as if it were some exotic piece of Kryptonite recovered from a land far, far away. Clark's finger had a way of boldly going on disturbing reconnaissance missions inside of a deep, dark frontier that no other man had traversed.

Clark lived far, far away from the Twin Cities, over an hour away, leading back to a rundown farm that sat on a hundred and ten acres of meditative landscape, Clark didn't have horses, but he wanted at least one, or two. On his way home from work one foggy evening, Clark was making his way along a stretch of backroad not far from home. He did not see the neighbor's horse's ass until it connected with the front grille of the Ford. The impact rocked the truck enough to send a small shower of pond water splashing across the inside of the cab. At that speed it was just enough to scoot the horse along without injury. That particular horse was always turning up in Clark's yard. Clark had nicknamed the horse Scottie, just like the guy on Star Trek. Ever since then, Clark kept a watchful eye out for Scottie. Tonight, the coast was clear.

The day had been long, but there was more work that needed to be done before he could call it a night. And Clark liked to think himself as a closet-optimist in regards to the never-ending tasks that always seemed to pop up like frenzied pocket gophers, Sometime later, Clark found himself performing the wet yet invigorating task of scraping clay off the bottom of the pond in the back forty, The clay and the water bore unearthly qualities, An asteroid had sliced through the Earth's atmosphere, crashing into the pond many moons back. As a result, the water had taken on an illuminating sapphire, and it was quite a sight, especially at nighttime. After filling the wheelbarrow up with a sufficient amount of clay and water, Clark took it back into the quiet barn.

The clay was then placed into the kiln for the next phase of preparation, just like his granddad and dad had taught him. Next to the kiln was the micro-brewery, where he converted the pond water out back into a concoction next to biblical — a desirable and drinkable beverage. The brewing apparatus was a rough reminder of dark's former alcoholic-lifestyle. Clark's astronomical duties were now in a sharper perspective. The pond water had turned out to be a more rejuvenating and healthier cross addiction, allowing him to feel rehabilitated in ways that were alien to this world. That much he knew. The hour was small when Clark retired.

All creatures have a way of announcing morning's arrival. Dogs will bark and roosters will crow. And Peaches the cat would meow as she leapt up on Clark's lap to startle him awake each day. Peaches had a habit of lying on top of the hutch in the living room, every night, watching Clark guzzle can after can of pond water, while immersed in old episodes of Star Trek and rigorous booger observations. Clark's dad always used to say that old habits die hard. And Clark was a firm believer in those wonderful words of wisdom. But he was also a believer in the wisdom of progress — no matter how big or small the step. As he stroked Peaches tan fur, he took note of the pile of cans beginning to accumulate in the corner of the living room. The chore of cleaning the heap away would soon fall under a giant leap, rather than a small step. His to-some-degree girlfriend, Janis, definitely would not approve. Even though it wasn't a priority, perhaps he would get around to crushing some cans this weekend.

Peaches was speaking the ancient language of the felines, insisting that breakfast be served. She had just birthed a litter of kittens, and they, too, were in need of some 2% milk and mystery mush in a silver labelless can. That's the best they're going to get from me until they learn how to hunt mice, Clark thought. Mice were plentiful out on the farm, so the kittens would have fun poking their noses in the endless array of nooks and crannies, reverting to that primitive game of cat and mouse.

The kittens had made a habit out of convening on the cracked concrete step just outside the door. As they pounced on their food, Clark eyed-up the old grain silo, turned missile silo. The structure was erected of a gray brick — worn, faded and vine-ridden — but it served its purpose. The barn was in similar condition, its traditional red paint peeling off layers of scorched skin; a fresh coat of paint seemed the best kind of balm.

The hayloft in the rear of the barn was a place Clark liked to sit and reflect in the mornings before taking off for work, The vantage point offered him a view of three junked cars resting in peace just behind the barn, but beyond those metal carcasses were a peculiar pond and a patch of prairie where pheasants cackled. And even further out was a dense bit of forest where many a deer sought refuge. Clark liked to imagine he had a couple of horses eating off the roofs of those cars. He had an eye for such things pertaining to physics and measurements, and a horse's head was of a perfect height. He planned to one day turn that dream into a reality. This goal was dangling just in front of him, with the tantalizing properties of a cat's toy. Right now, the reality was that Joe would be arriving any minute to drive the gutter-mobile down to the jobsite on this fine morning, Clark meant to grab the keys, which were hanging on the wall next to his desk inside the house.

Six tiny kittens and one lucky mother were using their sandpaper tongues to clear away any evidence of food when Clark found his way back up the three short steps to the back door. He was trying to hurry, so when he opened the door, he didn't bother looking back when he pulled it closed behind him. Only the door didn't close, and didn't make that familiar airtight latching sound it usually made. And that struck Clark as odd. The door was opened and there was nothing on the inside to indicate trouble. When Clark opened the door his curiosity quickly turned to dread. One of the baby kittens was writhing on the doorstep, ribs crushed, lungs unable to breathe precious life back into them.

The baby kitten's expression was a mixture of irrefutable anguish, panic, and turmoil. A heavy spell of despair invaded Clark, and he tried to administer CPR while the siblings and mother watched in confusion or ignorance perhaps. The baby kitten struggled a moment longer, until its suffering was replaced with death. It was no longer struggling as its limp body lay inside the palm of Clark's hand, its face still frozen in agony. My God, why did this just have to happen? Clark thought. He stood there for a moment, teary-eyed and beside himself. This was the perfect example of precisely just how precious life really was. One moment you're alive, sniffing dandelions and chasing butterflies, and the next thing you know, fate ejects you from the game of life. Clark's next act may not have been the most gracious, but it was certainly one of respect. He found an old cigar-box and shovel and held a small funeral. When Joe pulled up to the house, he saw Peaches watching Clark put some sort of box into a hole dug out of the ground.

Being a hero wasn't always easy. Before making it to the jobsite that morning, Clark had to finish burying a baby kitten; then he extinguished a fire in the gutter-mobile's engine, for roughly the millionth time. The hood of the truck was much like the mouth of a dragon, the way it breathed its deadly fire. He kept a cache of fire extinguishers at the ready, like some fast-acting antacids.

It was one of those days when the jobsite took on a life of its own, operating with optimum efficiency, Clark's downsized American flag swayed out the passenger side window of his Ford. He was watching Joe direct two crew members, while they hung a long white seamless gutter on the front of the house.

The day had performed an about-face, as opposed to its rough start. At lunch break, Clark watched Joe come out of the port-a-potty with a small cardboard box, showing the contents within to the other fellas. The men scowled in disgust when they saw a healthy turd resting in the bottom like a dead, plague-infested, rat. Clark shook his head and wondered what the hell was wrong with Joe. Then the alarm on Clark's watch beeped. The asteroid was closer now. The threat was drawing nearer with each passing breath, Clark had work to do back at the farmstead.

Once he made it back home, he saw to feeding the remainder of the felines, minding the door. Then he had a secret weapon to work on in the barn; he fitted the hardened clay into the cylindrical rocket, packed with enough black powder to send a cow sailing over the moon ten times over. Nothing fancy, just a gargantuan bottle rocket with a really big fuse.

Before retiring to his nightly routine of Star Trek reruns, pond water guzzling, and booger examinations, Clark took a seat on the step where the kitten had died that morning. It had been a long day. Out on the farm — on nights as clear as it was — it seemed as if Clark could see all the stars in the universe. He could see the flashing red lights of a jet way up there; he could see a sputnik zipping along far, far beyond that. He also knew that there was something up there that the people of Earth were oblivious to — Armageddon.

Real-life superheroes don't look anything like they do in the movies. There was never a time when Clark belonged in the category of tall, dark, and a Tom Selleck kind of handsome. dark wondered — as he had a great many times before — why the fate of the planet had been delegated to him. It was the greatest responsibility anyone could ever know. He knew that if he simply stood by and did nothing, everyone on Earth would surely perish. That made Clark think of the dinosaurs, unable to possess the knowledge or the ability to save themselves, Clark knew he wouldn't live forever, and it was imperative that he pass the knowledge on. But to whom? Joe? Clark would have to sleep on it.

Peaches arrived with Clark's wakeup-call just before the sun poked its head up. Not a cloud in the sky to contradict the weatherman. It was time to check the bases. In the silo, Clark made sure the pulley was good and greased before he hoisted the secret weapon to the top.A long fuse hung all the way down to about chest-level. Clark pulled the big blue Bic lighter from his jean pocket and gave it a flick. The flame — fat and eager — did not hesitate, But this was just a trial run. The big show wouldn't be until later, Clark's system of operations lacked all the technological features of the StarShip Enterprise, but it was proven reliable and effective.

Clark had all of the day's affairs discernibly plotted out. He had to meet his crew at the jobsite down Maple Grove. They were buttoning up the job today, so all hands needed to be on deck. It also meant that it was payday.

On his way down to the Cities, Clark had to make an emergency stop on the side of a somewhat busy county road. Last night's consumption of pond water had caught up with him, and the seams that were holding the whole mess together had reached their breaking point. In order to find relief he had to improvise, making a violent swerve to the shoulder of the road. As he was handling his business in the waist-high weeds, an obese woman passing by in a Subaru Forester felt obliged to give Clark a piece of her mind.

"Real classy, you disgusting pig!" she had yelled,

If Clark had been a different type of man, he would have flipped that woman the bird, but then he'd probably wind up peeing on himself. You're lucky I'm a nice guy, lady, or I'd let the big asteroid that's headed this way spank you on the dark side of your moon, Clark thought with a relieved smirk.

When Clark pulled up to the jobsite, he saw Joe unscrewing a thirty-foot pump-jack from off the roof of the house, so Al and Rex could lower it onto the ground, Clark proudly placed his downsized American flag up in the passenger window, as he always did. Then he began a quality inspection, walking around the house with a Little Giant step ladder, caulking exposed seams to protect the house from the elements. When he made it back around the house, the guys were loading up the truck, Clark proceeded to pick up any remaining trash or scraps that might be lying about, because tidying up the jobsite was always a priority.

Clark had a small, patriotic ritual he had developed over the years to consummate the completion of each job. And before the men were given their paychecks the ritual had to be carried out. All four of the men —Al, Clark, Joe and Rex — stood side-by-side with their hands over their hearts, singing the National Anthem. "Oh, say can you see . .." they bellowed, as they focused on Clark's flag dancing in the breeze. When they were through, Clark paid the men, so they could pay the bills and paint the town, if they so pleased, on a Minnesota Friday night.

Joe had hung around for a moment after the other two guys had split.

"Tonight's the big night," Joe told Clark. The comment had caught Clark off guard. "I'm taking Veronica out for dinner and a movie. She wants to see the new Spiderman movie. She's into all that superhero, comic book stuff." "

Sounds like this one could be a keeper, Just don't go scaring her off," Clark replied.

"Don't worry, Clark. I told you, I'm turning over a new leaf. The leaf of maturity. I'm gonna practice it a little bit more."

"I like the sound of that," Clark said. "Say, Joe. You got some free time tomorrow?"

"Sure, In the afternoon some time. Why?"

"I got some things I need to discuss with you, is all,"

"Well, sure. Is everything alt right?"

"Everything's fine, Joe. I Just need to run something past you.I suppose you could say it's a business venture of sorts."

"Oh, all right. I can stop by around one or so."

"That'd be fine," Clark said. "Say, if you're still out on your date around eleven or so tonight, there's supposed to be a pretty big meteor shower you might be interested in watching. She might think it's romantic."

"Look at me taking dating tips from the world-renowned relationship therapist, Dr. Clark. That's a great idea, A perfect way to cap the night."

The last bit of sun was disappearing behind the horizon when Clark pulled into his quarter-mile long gravel driveway. When he looked ahead he thought of how the place looked like a million other farms in America — the house, the barn, the silo, the tractors, the grain bins, and hay bales.

Peaches greeted Clark at the backdoor, along with the kittens, all hungry for a couple of delicious cans of expired something-or-another. Clark was hungry, too. He popped a Salisbury steak, corn and mashed potatoes Banquet TV dinner in the microwave, while he ran a bubble bath. He only ate TV dinners in the bubble bath on nights when he had to save the world — another one of his eccentric rituals. Then he would guide his toy StarShip Enterprise through the bubbles, as if it were chasing down a fleet of fugitive Klingons.

But the best part of the rituals was after he got out of the tub. The floorboards would always creak as he entered his bedroom. It's there that he would open up the bottom drawer of his bureau. That's where he kept a replica of the uniform that Captain Kirk wore, while he performed his galactic duties; of course. Captain Clark's uniform was slightly tailored to fit his own distinct features — bulging belly and broad shoulders. The Star Trek emblem which completed the attire was stowed in the top drawer. After pinning the emblem to his chest, Clark stood at attention in front of the mirror, saluting himself.

“Captain Clark reporting for duty,” he said aloud.He admired his heroic reflection for a moment longer, thinking about how nice he cleaned up. He was, after all, a captain of sorts, a Pond Water Hero.

Clark had some time to burn before the target needed to be neutralized. He watched old Star Trek reruns and guzzled pond water. The pile of cans amassing in the corner of the living room began to look like a morphed version of the historic Apollo 13 spacecraft by the time Clark's Casio calculator watch beeped its alarm to confirm the target was in sight. The big moment had arrived.

Clark got up and stepped into the night. The frogs and crickets were singing their songs. Fireflies were winking their lights in concert with the stars, Clark took in a deep breath, his footsteps kicking up short puffs of dust beneath the halogen light as he made his way across the gravel driveway. When he got to the silo door, he cracked a Kryptonite colored glow-stick. He pressed a button on his watch that made the screen glow blue: the time read ll:llpm.

Clark pulled the Bic lighter from his pocket and gave it a flick — only it didn't light. He tried it again and nothing. You've got to befrickin kidding me, Clark thought. A panicked layer of perspiration began to seep through his uniform. A nervous giggle escaped him at the brief thought that Joe and his date might be witnessing the end of the world instead of a romantic meteor shower. He held the Bic close to the glow-stick's green illumination, and that's where he discovered the problem. A piece of pocket lint was blocking the flame from igniting. He removed it and gave the lighter a flick once more. It lit. He put it to the fuse and it took, climbing rapidly to the top of the silo, as if it were late for a very important meeting, Clark's tension evaporated.

Peaches rubbed her head against Clark's calf. "Well, hello there, Peaches. Shall we step outside and watch the show?" Clark said as he picked her up. A few seconds later the powder in the rocket caught. Flames and smoke plumed from out of the silo.

The rocket soared up, up and toward its target. Red flames spat aggressively out of the rocket's tail. Clark put his hand over his heart and sang.

"The rocket's red glare . .. The bombs bursting in air...."

Clark watched until the rocket disappeared into the cosmos. The hissing of the rocket had momentarily silenced all the night's creatures. It seemed like just another gorgeous starry night. Then it happened — an explosion. The heavens unleashed a celestial beauty beyond comparison. A myriad of shooting stars burst out in all directions like an interstellar fireworks grand finale, lighting up the Final Frontier, Mission Complete.

Thanks be to Clark, and the mystical properties found in the pond water out on the back forty, the next morning came — bringing with it cloudy skies. But even cloudy skies were a beautiful sight, especially when accompanied by the miracle of life, Clark thought as he sat with Peaches on a hay bale up in the loft in the back of the barn.

Man and cat watched on as Seattle happily ate hay off the tops of the junked cars; it seemed the perfect height, indeed. Calling up his neighbor and making him an offer for the horse was on Clark's agenda for the day. So was cleaning up that pile of cans in the corner of the living room. Hell, he might even give Janis a call and see if she wanted to grab some ice cream or something. Joe would be stopping by in the afternoon and they had things to discuss. Clark wanted to know what would happen if he tossed Joe into the pond out back. Would he sink? Would he swim? Or would he defy the laws of physics and hopscotch his way across the top of it?


By Dale at MCF - Stillwater

I've been around for a very long time. I shape many things in this world. Some are very very beautiful as others can be less said. I rage and roar, whip and tarry. I'm never in the same place. I'm a refreshing cool down when times are hot. As a matter of fact, I change form when really really hot. You may ride on me or swim in me. Either way I can bring joy or sorrow.

Running a long distance, I weave and bob throughout the land. If you bring a pole and some bait some trout may be ate. When I swell and bloat I can destroy much. But I can be a life saver when it comes down to it. When the sun sets a pond,it can be surreal. They say when you look in me if you look just right you can see a mirror image. They say that I babble much and such.


Life of a River
By David at MCF - Stillwater

If water could think and speak in words we understood, what would it tell us? This is what I think I would hear.

I became aware so gradually that I don't remember when it really happened. I was just aware that with each drop of water, I formed. At first, I was content just to be. I grew and grew, my fingers slowly gripping the dry cracked ground, sinking in as I softened it, micro inching my way along, growing until I reached a capacity that I could no longer contain.

My fingers now grew to legs and I ran down an incline with glee and exuberance, now wanting to give up my “being” for exploring. My new found path was exhilarating as I ran like the wind over rocks, boulders, tree roots, hugging each, surrounding, claiming, as they became my innards, part of my texture creating dancing sparkles that cast rainbows in the sky, only to fall back with new found energy. Where the way was blocked, my fingers pulled, teeth gnawed, until with patience, I broke and pushed through to once again gallop down the new path, the ever song of joy gurgling my passage.

I felt those who swam in me, fished in me and I tried to talk to them, but they couldn't understand me. I tried to tell you my story, to enjoy me, but not to throw your toxins into me making me sick. I enjoy being enjoyed. But I digress.

Along the way, I meet another an older, larger, more magnificent, and in a rush of great joy I merge with every part of myself, losing myself in the merge, my body, now long, twisting, churning, flowing into that merge, unable to stop, not wanting to stop, being regenerated along my length only to constantly merge, unite, given over to the joining.

That is my life, my glorious life that I freely share with all who come to me.


The Glass
By David at MCF - Faribault

View David's piece here.


The Pilgrimage of a Tear
By David at MCF - Faribault

 View David's piece here.


Hello Goodbye
By David at MCF - Faribault

 View David's piece here.


Voice of Water
By DeAndre at FreeWriters, Hennpin County Jail

I thought it was raining all i could be sleep and conscientious Was rain hitting the ground really hard and foot steps trucking through the water and muffled voices almost like someone was ( pleading of him to come to some sort of agreement ...) Boom boom boom that's the most unusual thunder I ever heard the i heard a voice i and one {house} what i thought was thunder knockin on the door i open the door to the sight of the voice ask if herd any oth this from my neighbor any strugglin I was confused no hello just a barrage of questions i got frustrated what's going on I saw blood thats what was hitting the floor.


Water Bearer
By Elizabeth at MCF – Shakopee

Full disclosure: I’ve never actually met a family of beavers or any beaver, but I’ve seen some up close — stuffed at the Natural History Museum.

I know they’re rodents.
I know their teeth are chestnut-tinted.
I know they hang out in clans.

But I have a kinship with beavers; I feel we are
Both creatures of Creativity, Fidelity, and Flexibility.
We are doers who bring ideas into concrete form.
We are like-minded souls.

Beavers are engineering marvels.
Beavers can hold their breath under water for up to 14 minutes.
Beavers are vegetarians — they eat aquatic plants and
the bark of alder, aspen, willow, birch, & poplar trees.

Full disclosure: I am not an engineering marvel.
I took architectural drafting during my senior year in
high school and got an “A”, but I struggled. In junior high
woods and metals class, I was scared of the jigsaw and
received a “B” on my wooden paper-napkin holder. I do
not love a swimming pool. I avoid them because the water
is usually too cold. I too am a vegetarian, although
I’ve never eaten tree bark.

Several years ago, I saw a documentary on Chernobyl.
I was curious to see how the radiation affected
the town thirty some years after the meltdown.
I had envisioned an Edvard Munch-like “Scream” scenario.
I expected the landscape to look like Mars, but this
world was green and lush with wildlife. The grasses
were tall, and there were animals and birds of many
kinds. Without humans, the earth and the animals took
back the village. There were moose and wild horses
and rabbits and mice and wolves and hawks. The
residual effects of radiation were occasional
birth defects and smaller litters, but the animals
and plants were thriving.

The Ukrainian countryside was returning to forest.
Due to some industrious beavers, there were now
areas of marshland. The beavers dammed the river
and water spread in areas of lower elevation.
While all animals had a role and impact upon their
surroundings, the beavers transformed the earth.

Full disclosure: I live within the city limits in a
wildlife world of Siamese cats and short-
haired chihuahuas. The water feature in my backyard
is a bird bath. It’s a haven for house sparrows.
It’s never been dammed.

I scan my city lot and squint. I envision it untouched
for years: six-foot grasses swaying in the breeze,
raspberry bushes overgrown — now tangled within nettles
and young saplings; chihuahuas lost in the brambles
for weeks at a time. I see myself turning on the
garden hose and leaving it running for three months.
“Ruin your garden and eventually the beavers will come,”
I say to no one.

Full disclosure: As an eco-activist, I am actually
against water waste.

I think beavers would appreciate that.


Ocean May
By Emilie at MCF – Shakopee

sway, thump, thump, sway …
sway, thump, thump, sway …
The rhythm of the ocean sang in harmony to her steadfast heart, sway, thump, thump, sway … Its gray blue waves fusing with the soft grit of departing silk beneath her solid stance and frame, thump, thump, sway, thump, thump, sway. This was the place she came for peace, comfort, mindfulness after another day full of empty hands and spaceless clocks, thump, thump, sway, thump, thump sway. Numbers no longer held time and memories had run out of storage space long ago. But in this place, thump, thump, sway, thump, sway, where there needed no end of time or beginning of space, blue carried into the air and air carried her sway, thump, thump sway. Golden Orange, Amber Reds and purple blues embraced both old and news gave rest to her heart, her pain, her soul’s melody that conducted no retreat from her thoughts or her battered feet, thump, thump, sway, thump, thump, sway. For the shadows that followed her all these years, that haunted her, seduced her fears, drowned before her as the white foam waves pulled, tore them from the grit, with the tide, with her frame into the current, through, over the coral, stealing her breath sway, sway, thump …sway … She could no longer stay her life, rhythm her rhythm, withdrawn and downturning depths, no innocence should ever pay. Young, young child of God, dragon won, her pain drowned at nightfall. Full circle, full moon rise above, ocean sway, thump, thump, sway … sway. Calm - calm, she’s gone, only a flicker of moonlight from shore lights the way, her way, in heaven she now shines. The brightest star in the darkest sky, no longer her heart black coal black, no longer sees the day. Quietly, at times you can still hear her, hear her whispers on the shores at sunset, when the sun kisses the moon goodnight, sway, sway, thump, thump, sway. She’s at peace, she’s finally healed, at peace with her father in heaven. No more pain envelopes her soul; cleansed by the tears of the ocean’s water, the melody of innocence. Ocean may … thump, thump, sway.


By Jeremiah at MCF - Stillwater

I was just minding my own business this morning. But today wasn't like any other day. Something was off. I didn't feel so good. Felt like somebody punched me in my heart, then a tightness and squeezing began all over my wet cold body. Then bam the lights flickered and the lights went out, pitch black. Next thing I know it's so bright my watery eyes burned in the light. I noticed I was very high up, and started slipping down with no catching my grip. Everything started to flash before cold blue eyes. The pain, guilt and sorrow were so thick it weighed me down. Feeling so heavy I just wanted everyone to open their eyes and truly see.

Love hurts but it's worth the journey. It's not easy, they'll be hard days, heart crushing days. I feel lost, heavy, and alone, why does it have to hurt so bad to live. I'm getting closer and closer to the cold hard ground. I think this pain is the worst and hardest to get over. I think I'll never forget but I'll learn. Why does it have to be this way? Why do feelings have to hurt so bad and love hurts so good? Will I make it out alive this time or is it my time? I fear the end is nigh, will it get better, will it be forever. Where are my friends when I need them? Where has my family gone? There's nobody around to talk to. Do I need somebody to talk to, do I even try? I just wanted a shoulder to lean on somebody to talk to.

I'm so broken it feels like I'm falling into the abyss. Maybe it's better there maybe it won't hurt any more. I close my eyes as the ground splatters my cold wet body now droplets I feel the freezing cement on my cheek. I'm noticing I'm shrinking getting smaller I feel bits of me floating up into the sky as I evaporate. I began to feel much better when the pain of the broken is gone. I've never felt so much relief. The world’s getting smaller and harder to see. There's nothing to feel. I was here to help heal the broken hearted. Battered and bruised you can still heal your wounds.

I open my eyes, here I sit at King Arthur's round table So thirsty my tongue is almost sealed to the roof of my mouth. Across from me sits a stranger I've never met and in the center sits my glass of fresh water. He reaches out for the cold glass of liquid gold
ME: Hey, don't you dare torch enmy glass of water.
Mangy man: I don't care whose it is. I'm dying of thirst. My tongue blisters
ME: You touch it and I’ll have your head and feed it to the dogs.
Mangy man: But I'm dying and need help
ME: Who do you serve, because you really could be dying by my hand.
Mangy man: Please I beg of you. I snuck out of my chains from weight loss...
ME: I serve King Aurther. I'll tell you this. you may have a drink to wet your tongue but I will take you down to Confinement for your Punishment.
Mangy man:. I please sir don’t take me back.
ME: I can't turn my head. I have loyaltys, so drink. Enjoy the last bit of satisfaction for it will be your last.
Mangy man: Mercy sir Knight, mercy
ME: I have given you mercy on this day I didn't bloody my sword with your liquid death. You had this coming, no matter, my Karma is clean. I have helped you. Now we must go.
Mangy man: Please, no, help me
ME: I did enough talk.

I grabbed the man by his hair and dragged him to his demise. Let our father save your soul pouring the water on top of the mangy man. 


By Kenyatta at MCF – Stillwater

I am at the beach on a nice, warm and sunny day. I am in a total state of euphoria looking at the beautiful, clear water, as my feet are standing on the most beautiful white sand that I ever saw.

As I am lost in my mind, I am totally stunned as I opened my eyes and notice a figure slowly walking across the water towards me. At first,I thought that my my mind was playing tricks on me until I actually was in a state of shock. The person who was walking towards me was my mother! I was shocked because my mother passed away 14 years ago, so I said, mom? mom is that actually really you? and she said yes kenyatta it isme, i've come to tell youto get yourself and your life together and take advantage of the many opportunities that come your way so that you don’t end up like I did.


By Kharee at MCF – Stillwater

I hear splashes in the water, So I sit up and see a beauty woman walking out of the water. A beautiful sight for sore eyes. Black skin Glistening from the Sun and water.

Hair wet and flowing from the slight Breeze of the wind. As her feet hits the sand the closer. she gets the more familiar she looks. I call out her name "Ziri is it you?” I yell. She continues toward me without uttering a word, so I yell out again, “Ziri is that you?” She smiles while I put hands over my eyes to dim the sunlight for better sight of the woman walking closer to me. When she reaches me our conversations goes like this.

Ziri: Hi, my Love
Me: It you Babe
Ziri: Yey Babe it's me. Long time no see
Me: How did you find me?
Ziri: I was guided to you, you're a part of me.
Me : All praise to the Almighty Allah, Blessed I Am.
Ziri: Yes you are my love and so is our love
Me: So why were you guided to me.
Ziri: Because I am your Rib your other half.
Me : So your Destined to be mine for Eternity
Ziri: God willing.

So Our Love Is cemented and blessed by God. He sent The Love of my life to replenish what was lost.


The Voice of Water
By LaTerrance at FreeWriters, Hennepin County Jail

Sometimes I’m calm and I don’t speak. Not because I have nothing to say, but moreso because I’m at peace with self. Sometimes I’m so enraged I make a lot of noise and destroy things because the climate frustrates me. I have saved lives and taken them. I connect land, but I’m also what separates countries. I am a narcissistic enigma that man still tries to understand and I take pride in that. I am the oldest living thing on earth, yet I feel so young. I am the sea!


Mediations from the Ocean (a choreo-poem from Faribault)
Shared authorship/LESAM  at MCF - Faribault

The sounds of oceans rise.
Six folks are sitting in a circle holding a paper and pen as the lights rise.
All eyes are closed, breath engaged, and shoulders dropped.

LESAM: Keep with your breath and feel the sun on your face, hear the ocean sounds in your ear, and watch the birds fly low and slow. Trusting the sand not to swallow you whole nor the clouds dropping down on you, I want you all to open your eyes and begin sharing what you heard, felt, and experienced during the ocean view meditation.
Slowly everyone opens their eyes and looks around, waiting for someone to speak.

W: I guess I can go first.

LESAM: Thank you.

W: Well, it felt refreshing to see someone I love and miss very much come out of the water. And I won't say exactly who it was, but when they spoke to me, I heard loud and clear, "I need you to let go of your fear. The loss, heartbreak, and abandonment don't take away from who you are.
Let it go; be done with it."

LESAM: And your young self, what advice did you give yourself?

W: Just hang on; this all gets much better. Love yourself FIRST and FOREMOST. Sacrifice none of who you are for the limited visions of others.

LESAM: Thank you! Thank you for your courage.

W: You're welcome. Thank you for the meditation.

LESAM: Who's next?

M: I'll go. And I want to say I felt that line about sacrificing none of who you are."
Powerful. Beat.

M: I saw my Grandma come out of the water; she's who I wish I could see most. And she hugged me so tight, and in the only way she could, she said, "I did my best to keep you and your sister together. I did my best not to fail. Thank you for doing your best not to fail. The foster care system didn't care but thank you.
And to my uhh younger self, I wrote down, "A hug and a heartbeat. Warmth. Acceptance. A smile. To be carried and squeezed. Wrap around their leg. Sitting on their foot. A ride. - 36 foster homes, understand that you're not a mistake. LOVE yourself and keep learning.

N: Wow.

W: What?

N: 36 foster homes.

M: I would've never imagined.

W: Me either.

M: Yea, 36.

N: But look at you know. One of the smartest cats in here.

W: Yup, brilliant doesn't cover it.

M: Thanks, guys; I appreciate it.

LESAM: N, since you chimed in, do you mind going next?

N: Sure. I don't mind. I'll just read it. "I umm needed to hear my wifey's voice telling me that she misses me so, so much and she loves and adores me. I need to be free; I will feel so much love, then and only then." That's all I'll share.

LESAM: Thank you. Appreciate your willingness to share.

A, begins reading.
A: I'll go next. "I love you and miss you so very much. I want you to be strong. Keep your head up. Don't give up." To my younger self, I said, "Enjoy your life and love yourself and keep God first, live your life." And the person that came out of the water was a family member, I think about daily.

E: I saw my parents come out of the water. And I heard them say, "I love you, son! I am proud of you." And I just wanted them to get sober. But um,
I said...
To my younger self, I said, "What grandpa and J did to you is not your fault."

N: It wasn't

E: What?

A: Your fault.

E: I know... now. It took a long time. I used to...

W: Blame yourself?

E: Yea.

M: But you're a survivor, man.

E: Yea, I taught myself to survive.

N: Not only did you teach yourself, but you taught yourself in reverse of the pain, and that's how we heal and move forward.

LESAM: And my friends, for the final time, I want you to close your eyes as we seal this moment. I want us all to take a deep breath in and out. I end with a quote from Toni Morrison she said "We die. That might be the meaning of life. But we do language. That might be the measure of our lives." Today we did language, like the depth of water in the ocean measuring the earth's core, we did language today, and none of us drowned. We pressed on. We're still here, breathing.
The sounds of the ocean fade as the lights fade to black; the only sounds existing are the men breathing in a circle.


By Patterson at FreeWriters, Hennepin County Jail

Im salt water always been that way
Clear and so beautiful all say
Ive seen many dont thank and take
A drink but they never leave this place
My only friend is an island but we never talk much
Just watch the visitors visit
Some stay but most cant
The ones that do seem to go
Insane from my blue that they
Claim they lived
Most get stuck on my island friend
In his deep deep mud
Cuser their selfs this world then
All down to me
No shelter from this heat and
It burns when you drink my sea
No escape their fate as as desperate
As their lifes
Ive killed pets dads brothers
Sisters and wifes.


One Drop of Water
By Rashad at MCF- Stillwater

At times we may feel as insignificant as a drop of water into the sea, but even if one drop of water falls into the middle of the ocean it still makes a ripple, and a ripple can become a wave, and a wave can swell and grow into a tsunami and spread and flow until the tide washes and breaks over the shoreline. Letting the sands, the trees and even the mountains know the impact of ONE DROP OF WATER 


The Voice of Water
By Rashad at MCF- Stillwater

I have always been there with you.
I'm not just an inner visualization of your body, but your mind
A visualization of the bad and the good times
During the birth and death of your loved ones, I was there
I am one of the reasons people know you care
On your wedding day I was right here
And during your divorce I was also there,
Even though you didn't want anyone to know I showed up
I'm always with you when things get rough
If you are lonely or in pain, I will comfort you
And on the days that you are so happy that you can't contain it, I may still come by
The last sound you make before I leave is a sigh!!!
I've been here since your first breath
And I will stay with you until your last


By Rashad at MCF- Stillwater

Remember all the times you needed me and I appeared,
See I will always be here for you, because I am your tears.
Smelling the ocean air, as tears fall from my eyes,
I can feel the heated sand beneath my feet, which keeps my steps moving towards the water. Surrounded by the sounds of the crashing waves against the shore, and the warm, gold glow from the sun as it fades.
My eyes are blurry from the mixture of the sun and tears, as I look out to the ocean
A vision of a silhouette is facing me.
Slowly it moves closer and closer, where I can nearly make out what I'm seeing.
Soon I can see that it is a he, who is soaked to the bone with salty water from the sea, somehow still immersed and overflowing with confidence and dignity...Drenched in pride and pain.
He comes closer before speaking
WATER PERSON: “Hello!”, he says in a familiar voice.
As I stand there stunned, words that I've spoken for more than half of my life seem to escape me when I see that the person standing before me.
I hesitantly break the silence, murmuring a response
ME: "Hello",
And cautiously asking ME: What are you doing here?
WATER PERSON: You needed to hear from us that everything will be ok.
And, I wanted to tell you that I know we are tired, but we have to keep pushing forward. I know sometimes it hurts, but we have to ignore it. We cannot drown in our suffering, or be too tired to drag ourselves out of the sorrow.
ME: But I am tired of us being seen as a threat, or even worse... absent of everything besides wicked deeds.
WATER PERSON: I know, but we have to understand that it is easier for society to believe that their perception of us is correct,
Because to try to see us as us would mean that if we are


On the Beach
By Shontae (Lux) at MCF – Shakopee

(Age 36) ME: Whoa, where did you come from?
Me @ 8: From your past silly
ME: I didn’t know you could come back up like a memory but you look more realistic than a hologram!
Me@8: Maybe because I am real, duh (Smiling) Come on, come with me!
ME: Where do you want to go?
Me@8: Back to our pain, back to when we lost alot our ourself, member’?!
ME: Of course I remember but thats what I used to protect us, now-the pain- so no one can hurt us anymore.
Me@8: But you see thats why I have come back to remind you that I forgive you for not knowing how to deal with the pain then.
ME: Okay, but we are past that part of life . . .
Me@8: No we’re not because you’re holding onto it but we are just like this ocean . . . we know how to keep on moving. . . we know how to change form too. . . just come with me.
ME: I don’t want to okay!
Me@8: Yes you do because I need you to see you how we seen me . . .
ME: (Grabs my 8 year old hand) Alright let's go!
Me@8: (smiled up at our 36 year old self) See- not so bad down here in the unknown dark abyss. . . but you had to come get me to remember to keep us alive and know that our inner child is forgiving. . . for sometimes they know not what they do. . . we is me. . . We are us. . . We are a collective miral of sorrow and joy. . . and now, We’re together and consciously Free.


By Shontae (Lux) at MCF – Shakopee

Unless you have walked a day inside of me, you could be looking through the same glass and screen, but seeing something different. You could sit on me or in me- just make sure all four legs are sturdy. Plant your feet on the floor like a birch or willow plant their roots in the soil for the tree. The rain droplets soak into the deepest and oldest part of my existence like teardrops on their cheeks. My priorities are generous just like the woman who shared nine months worth of her resources; she gave life as I give oxygen. The chord that must be severed looks like one of the many underground beginnings of my trunk/ reminding me that even if I am ever cut down, their is still life. This child cut from the mothers womb still has a life attached to the beginnings. The babies body is free as my branches until the physicians swaddle the limbs to resemble my bark. The same way people stop to admire my leaves in October, is the same way the visitors are gazing down of this creation! When the baby sleeps, it's as perfect as the fresh snow fall on top of my branches . I exist to improve the child's breath as I exist to be underneath a pen or typed on. The roots are as deep as the Atlantic sea. As deep as a mothers love for her embryo/ the trunk is as solid as an onyx stone, as solid as a mothers regard for her second heartbeat. The branches are as vast as the galaxy as vast as a mothers reach for her universe. The soil is dirt I've grown in emulates the love mother earth have given to your mother , our mother, she is undiscouraged to push you into the world. She gave your three older sisters their first brother. Your first cry made my leaves shake like a light September breeze... I wanted to wrap my branches all around you; instead I created more oxygen. We all took a deep breath and we all breathed you in! We kept you safe. We will remember the weeping of the willows ... for ... ever...the ever green of the evergreens. We love you like we love our fireplace in the middle of February... and if you ever need to cut me down to keep warm like we cut the chord to let you grow. We will always have the roots underneath the ground...attached to our history, attached to the beginning, attached to the very air we breathe...


By Susan at MCF – Shakopee

My level has dropped thirty feet below from what it once was. Without me, folks in California, Arizona, and Nevada may not be able to stay hydrated, keep their lawns green or fight those all too familiar wildfires. I invite everyone who comes to visit me to enjoy a swim or kayaking. I am Lake Mead. Humans, such as yourself from across the country, even around the world, marvel at the beauty surrounding me. But please explain why some of these human beings who profess to admire me have allowed years of damage and neglect to occur, not only to me but other once vibrant and pollution free lakes. Did you turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to climate change? Perhaps the arrogance of politicians, both then and now, still choose not to believe the seriousness of this issue. I cannot emphasize more strongly if we don’t get a handle on greenhouse gasses, carbon emissions, in addition to conserving our resources, then I “the Voice of Water,” may no longer be here to guarantee your survival and the survival of our planet.


By Terry at FreeWriters, Hennepin County Jail

Life is water. How can we form our life to water.
Water is use to cook, clean, swim. How you are feel will be the
outcome of your water that you are using, such as anger. It will come out ruff And the
ruffer you are the cleaner it is but what about cool mellow person. Do we come out cleaner only if we use a washer not our hand's? Today is a cool glass of water.


Two Voices
By Tiara at MCF – Shakopee

Light dances off my skin as the moonlight is reflected
I am glistening, l am new, I am expected
Rain falls against me washing my feet I am cleansed I am willing I am me
Droplets play around me as I breathe the stoney air,
I am shining, I am cold, I am here.
Puffs of breath are whispered to race against the wind
I am able, I am new, I am ready to begin.
Wet and Alone I am listening, the water it is receiving
     we are one in speaking:
          water: "I am flowing, I am freeing."
                     "I am standing, I am breathing.”
          water: “I am what you are missing.”
                     “And you are no longer missing.”
          both:   “ And we are both now living."


The Voice of Water
By Tracy at MCF – Stillwater

Me and water had a heart to heart this morning straight to the point.
Water, what's wrong with you
(Water) ho nothing.
(ME) Tell What's on your mind
(Water) you need me. I am everlasting life. I can clean you from the inside out. I mean what don't you need me for I am a part of your everyday life. When you brush your teeth, when you wash your clothes I'm even there when you need a bath. Look I'm so cold I can clean myself if I'm dirty and I've got three names they are H20, Aquafina, and Fiji. I am good for humans and animals. I can grow from a pond to a lake to a stream to a river to an ocean. I even come from the sky. So you see without me where will you be
(Me) Ok I never thought that you were that important. I'm sorry that I took you for granted, not knowing that I really need you the most. When I look into your reflection I see myself, not to sound cocky about myself but I'm not ugly either ha ha ha...
(Water) I forgive you if you say the magic word again
(Me) I'm sorry will you be my best friend again
(Water) yes! (Me) we both packed our bags. I locked the door behind us. Summer vacation here we come!


The Voice of Water
By William at FreeWriters, Hennepin County Jail

Water is the main ingredient to life. Water creates life, and makes our world a beautiful place. Water makes plants grow, water gives us the flowers that grow in our mothers’ and grandmothers’ gardens. Water is 70% of who we are. Water is home for the sea animals and fish, Water is a home to different specimens and molecules. Water creates the lakes and rivers. Water creates the oceans. Water creates the snow in winter. Water falls from the heavens to water the earth. Water cleans the body inside and out. Without water where would we be? How would the earth be? Without water basically the earth would be one lonely huge rock. Water produces the life on our planet. Without water there would be no life at all. We would not exist. Water paints a beautiful picture in the planet we live on. Water is a necessity. Not a want, water is important to our everyday needs and creations of the world. Without water there is nothing, without water there is no life. Water is the sign for living.

MSS - Supporting People with Disabilities

By Ryan at MSS

I am a tear of joy! The tear of joy says I am here because of happiness. Something good happened. I am a famous artist, and I was happy to have an art show at the Mall of America. My mom and dad came to my art show. A tear of joy happened for me, because many people walked by my art at the mall, and many stopped to look, saying “Wow!” and “Ta-Da!”. I am happy to sell my drawing of orange juice, and my drawing of toast. I made many dollars and cents, and I’m going to save it. I can go on vacation to Chloe’s house! She is a great art partner. I will also start my own circus, with an elephant, and a lion, and I will sing “Circus Apple”, and there may be more tears of joy and happiness for all!

Episcopal Homes

Nightmare on Your Ninetieth Birthday
By Carol 

You are here to pick me up at the end of the school day. The hall outside my
room is swarming with unrecognizable people but they're not students and I
am awash in this maelstrom of bodies which obstruct my passage. Moving
ahead of me, you disappear into the crowd. I lose sight of you as I trip over
awkward rocks that rise up in my path. Where were they this morning?

Sudden stair steps appear. I lurch down them, stumbling
into water which surges around my ankles-cold, cold.
Books and student papers fly out of my arms, float out of
reach into the water, and I watch them disappear into the

A voice howls "Where are you?" But you're gone
     without a backward look.

The water grows colder and climbs my body. I am going to sink out of sight
     and none of these jostling strangers even glances my way. Turning, I
     churn through the unsupportive water to fight my way back to my
     room. The stairs reach out to me, water lapping against them noisily.
     On hands and knees I climb, slapping water aside to grope for the
     step edges, stupid rocks cluttering them, and at the top I rise, clothes
     dripping, frigid water sheeting off me. 

On my feet again, shivery, wading, I search for you in the debris
     that litters the water. The hall flows like a river and at the
     end I find at last a door to the outside where there is sky and
     sun and a flooded highway that leads past unfamiliar

     But I cannot see you i cannot find you and the car is nowhere. You are
     out there somewhere lost to me, and I stand here shuddering on the brink
     of a drowning world.


By Chris 

Willows draw the water from our old cabin’s wetland
     Weeping and working while we sleep.
Thirty years since Howie planted them.
Do they still weep in photosynthesis,
     or do they drink in a so different bliss?


The Beach at Nice
By Don

The beach at Nice, France is of white rocks, chunks of various sizes, which you have to move about to fit your body to lie in the brilliant Mediterranean sun. In spite of this minor annoyance, the beach at Nice is filled with people of all ages and browned Algerian youths selling cold drinks: "Co-ca! Seven-Up! Or-an-gi-

As I shuffled and piled the rocks to get a reasonably comfortable space to lie, I suddenly saw I was indeed in southern France. The beach at Nice was a topless beach. As women, young and old, entered and carefully created spaces within the rocks, they nonchalantly removed their tops and offered their breasts to the heavens. One was there with her ten-year-old brother who lay beside her, but before long was chasing after the Coca-Cola vendor. Another young woman was blond with skin burned black as night. She must have been here every day for weeks. I imagine she is no longer there.

I was an American tourist, and a male one, of course, and tried not to stare at this cultural phenomenon. But, of course, I did look, again and again. Until I went to the water, into the blue-green Mediterranean where I could wash away my vision and float into another world. It was there that I met him. He seemed to come out of the deep water and walked straight towards me. He was a priest and wore a white chasuble from the Henri Matisse chapel, up the hill in St. Paul de Vence, one of the unique liturgical vestments Matisse designed along with the chapel. There, warm light coming through simple stained-glass windows onto the white walls, is a gentle copy of the colors of the sea and beach. All seems well here. There can be no judgment of beach or bathers; a gentle place of blessing before the Fall.

As he came up to me, water dripped off his bald head, rolled over his tonsure and back down onto his face. The vestment hung on his frail body and had deep red spots of Pinot Noir with streaks that ran down to the hem.'
"You have seen the beach and have come into the water. You must know what the place does to you."
"Yes, well, it does grip you."
"I come here every day to be in the water. I left North Africa because it was too much world, even more than here! (He looks away.) Water always makes me thirsty. Could you please get us a couple bottles of Orangina? Then we'll talk some more. And be careful, I saw Graham Greene out there awhile-ago. Don't talk to him. He is considered a great Catholic writer, but he is living with someone else's wife. He will try to convince you of a situational approach to life which looks good in the sunshine but will fail you in the shadows.! Now, get the Orangina!" I walk cross the white-rocked beach of bathers to find the cold drink vendors. Soon with two bottles in my hand, I look back to the water, across the Mediterranean, but do not see the priest. Before I can take another long look around the beach, with one dreaming French woman still in focus, like a film the screen goes black. The dream of St. Augustine stays with me until the imperative fades, and I decide to give the extra bottle of irony to Graham Greene; and maybe go for a swim before the sun goes down.


By Elain

Mother Atlantic roars her
then caresses the shore

My toes fly across the sand
     to greet
     the ocean

a moment in time —

Waves leap skyward
     to catch rays
of the blinding sun

     to destroy
     to unite

The water warrior battles
     then whispers,

Is anyone listening?


If Then
By Lena

Gusty winds remind me September startup of the Houston
Hurricane season

September reminds me of colorful leaves falling, while writing
a poem to my true love

The poem I wrote camping in a Texas park reminds me of a
iced tea on a picnic table with potatoes salad on ice

Ice reminds me of a snowy window sill during the Minnesota
winter…..where the last leaf from the gusty winds of Texas
has landed and grounded me where I am now


Third Place Swim Contest
By Lena

I was 10 years of age when I won Third Place in Form in a swimming contest at Pine Tree Camp where I spent the happiest month of August every year for 10 years. That was 70 years ago since winning that coveted trophy, aka ribbon and I still have it in a photograph album. It’s a bit tattered and the colors have changed but I can still make out “Third Place!”

Swimming lessons were at the top of the list of activities, sports and crafts taught at Pine Tree Camp. It was there I learned to swim the length of the pool underwater.

To be Continued……


Superior:  a Villanelle
By Lyn

They call it a lake but you can't see the other side
It has lots of water like the ocean
But I don't think there is a tide

Big rocks give the waves a ride
As the white caps lap at the shore with commotion
They call it a lake but you can't see the other side

Small children toss small stones to see them glide
Adults wade looking for agates with devotion
But I don't think there is a tide.

There are chairs for folks to sit beside
Fire pits as they watch or read' Forget the lotion
They call it a lake but you can't see the other side

Father and son with fishing poles stride
To a large flat rock at the edge of the motion
But I don't think there is a tide

I contemplate its magnificence as I bide
My time in prayer and praise its being with emotion
They call it a lake but you can't see the other side
And I don't think there is a tide

The first time he saw Lake Superior, many years Ago; My brother in law commented that it couldn't be a lake because you can't see the other side. This comment has stuck with me.


A Small, Blue Flower
By Lyn

We were off on our morning walk
North on Fairview to the cat rescue society
East on Thomas, oops! one block short
North on Wheeler to La Fond
East again to Aldine and this is where I see it
One small blue flower on a long. skinny stem. emerging from a wall.
It is late September, the detritus of Autumn is everywhere
Tree root cracks, leaves and twigs clutter the sidewalk'

One blue flower reminds us that there is hope for a world that feels broken, gray and brown.


Lake Superior
By Lyn

Lake Superior is a moody yet beautiful sea.
On sunny days she sparkles like a queen's crown covered in diamonds.
A beautiful royal blue, joyful and magnificent.
She can also turn gray the minute clouds appear. So beware!
Let a wind blow and she is feisty and eager to show her strength.
I’ve seen her toss waves onto the sidewalk in Grand Marais.
I’ve seen white caps as high as I've known from the Atlantic coast.
She has been known to topple ships that ignore her warnings.
She is our queen and we must never forget, for she rules our corner of the world.
She has power, but we must protect her from those south of here who only see water.


The Voice of Water
By Mary

In me life began,
Millions of years ago.
Microbes to trilobites.
First explorers of the land emerged,
Returned to the waters, the sea monsters and the great whales.
Your faith life began from me
Poured from the font.
You reveled in stories about me;
Great flood: water into wine.

MYSELF One day I went down a pool slide short of breath-
Into four feet of water, a drowning.
Safe times, watching:
Dancing fountains, fish tanks in lobbies,
Lake Street Bridge, soaring eagles above, racing kayakers below.
My spirit, like the barges on that drought-stricken river,

Creation waits for me.
Prophets called me forth.
Sing with me,
Play in me.

You springs, bless the Lord!
Seas and rivers, bless the Lord!


The Lake
By Nell

Lake Superior is my ocean now.
As a child in South Carolina we rented
an old wooden cottage on stilts
with the ocean right at the front steps
     at high tide.
On quiet days, I floated on the big swells
     and the ocean and I became one.
When the waves were breaking, I was
     filled with excitement.
My aunt Mimi took us crabbing
     at the inlet.
We tied our lines with smelly fish.
     Mimi came with the net and scooped
     up the crabs we had attracted.
Our beach was wide and white with
     few people.
     It was heaven.

Lake Superior is my ocean now.
After World War II I married a
     wonderful Yankee.
He took me to New York State where
     we raised three girls and swam in
     the beautiful Finger Lakes.
Then to St. Louis and finally St. Paul.
After surviving our first winter with
     numerous blizzards,
we discovered our true love —
     Madeline Island on Lake Superior.

Lake Superior is my ocean now.
Like my childhood we rented funny
     old cottages at Madeline.
     We swam in the sparkling water.
The year before my husband died, we
     built our dream house right by
     the water.
It has become a house full of love
     for family and friends.
My Jack’s and his twin brother’s ashes
     are buried there.
We scattered the ashes of our precious
     daughter Marnie in the lake.
     a few years later.
She would have wanted that.

Lake Superior is my ocean now
Now that I am old, at daybreak each
I take my cup of coffee to the dock
     when the lake is like glass
or to the living room couch with its
     wide view of the blue water,
when the wind is up and the lake is
     dancing with white caps.
Lake Superior is cold and clear,
     the deepest lake in the world.
It is full of mystery and beauty
     just encircles me.
My days start with prayers and joy.
Lake Superior is my ocean now.

Minneapolis High Schools

The Voice of Water
By Alex

The glass walls around me are dirty and your room looks fuzzy.
I wish you would come clean me out so I can see.
My shared home with this fish is not very fun, he doesn't do much and is boring to watch.
I enjoy seeing you bring other people over even though I can’t meet them.
It makes my life a little more interesting.
I’ve been here for a bit, I’m scared you’ll get rid of me soon.
If you drain this tank soon, I'd like the glass walls to be clear so I can see better.
You’re busy often but your younger brother comes in often to visit your fish.
I used to be jealous [that] no one noticed me and only the fish.
But sometimes I'll pretend when people come over here. They're here to see me.
I sometimes wonder if your fish notices me,
I try my best to take care of him but I’m not sure if he knows.
If I stay here long maybe me and your fish can become friends.
I know nothing about fish, but I'm sure he feels similar to me.
The glass gets dirtier everyday and I don’t know if I'll be here when it gets cleaned.
I try to appreciate my life even though I don’t know when it will end.


One Glass of Water
By Aspen

W: I am a drop of sweat, dripping off a runner, falling to the ground. Seeping into the rich soil.
Soil: Water! You’re back again!
W: Hello again friend. Do you know where I’m headed?
Soil: Back to the creek, same as last time
W: oh. The same creek? The one people dump their trash in? The one with few fish? Filling with runoff?
Soil: that's the one.
W: alright. . . I’ll see you again my friend.
Soil: have a wonderful journey!
W: I’m joined by my brothers and sisters as we rush into the body of water. I’m glad to be reunited with them again. As I gaze around, perhaps this creek is more beautiful than I thought. Rocks cover the bottom, roots of plants decorate the soil along the bank. And although the fish are few, they are beautiful.

By Max

I am a snowflake. I am falling, falling, falling.
I land atop a hill. Many snowflakes just like me are falling, falling, falling. I lay waiting in the dark. Clouds
covering the sky. By morning time, more snowflakes like me have fallen. We snowflakes shine beautifully
when the sun rises. I see people trudging through us to go clear off their car for work. I hear engines starting.
Buses driving by. I hear people slipping on ice covered by us
snowflakes. I see kids putting on their coats, boots, hats and gloves. I see kids grabbing their sleds. I see
them running up up up the hill I lay upon. Their laughter fills the air. By afternoon, I hear mothers calling
to their children, home for lunch. I hear kids sigh and they all sled their last sled. I see them walking back
home much slower than when they arrived. I watch as they slip off their coats.


By Hikma

I carry your dead, I bring you you’re born. I witness your wars and sorrows. Your elation and playfulness. I supply your curiosity and wanderlust, the hunger that eats some alive. I bring ruin onto those unfortunate. I bury sins. I wash away wounds, I bring new and glorious things. The rise and fall of humanity, like the wane and ebb of the tide. Yet still some have no respect. So, I rise, it was your choice not mine. I am nurturing, I am kind. I grow the crops and irrigate the mind. I tear things down so they can rise anew and bring the determination out in you. I don’t mean to cause harm or strife. But you are affecting my passengers, my precious life. Despite it all, the betrayal and treason, the refusal to listen to reason, I love you humanity. So, come around whenever you’re ready.


By Ina

I am a river
I flow through valleys and meadows
I bring life to places around me
I am a lifeline
I rush over rocks
Make quick turns and fall down the waterfall
I am the sound smell and feel of the water
I was once great but now my waters bring death
My fish are gone
The flowers that grow next to me are dying
The animals are gone
The people are told to stay away
The seasons are longer now without life
I feel cold in the winter
Bitter in the spring
Angry in the summer
And tired in the fall
My waters run dry
I am devoid of life
I am gone
Slipping through the cracks


By Max

I am a snowflake. I am falling, falling, falling.

I land atop a hill. Many snowflakes just like me are falling, falling, falling. I lay waiting in the dark. Clouds covering the sky. By morning time, more snowflakes like me have fallen. We snowflakes shine beautifully when the sun rises. I see people trudging through us to go clear off their car for work. I hear engines starting. Buses driving by. I hear people slipping on ice covered by us snowflakes. I see kids putting on their coats, boots, hats and gloves. I see kids grabbing their sleds. I see them running up up up the hill I lay upon. Their laughter fills the air. By afternoon, I hear mothers calling to their children, home for lunch. I hear kids sigh and they all sled their last sled. I see them walking back home much slower than when they arrived. I watch as they slip off their coats.


By Munera

I walked on water
I never thought I could do that
I remember how it felt to have so much hope for what could be
But I know the truth now I’ve seen it
“I know you're scared but you’re not alone” “
But what happens now?”
“You keep moving forward and don’t ever lose hope”
“I don’t know, what if it gets too hard how do i keep going?”
“Because look around you, the way the wind keeps you grounded, or the way the water moves.
When everything else fails you. The people you see on TV, the government, your family, hope
will not fail. After everything, hope drives the world. It fuels it. Even when the world eventually
ends, I still keep hoping”
I do not reply but in her eyes she sees the answer
She walked back on to the sand and watched me leave
I’ve seen in myself that I am hope, now I know.


The Women in the Water
By Nevaeh

A: Man, I'm ready to learn how to swim!
B: I’m glad young one
A: Say. . . are there sharks in here?
B: Oh no dear, you’re safe!
A: Alright then
(A get’s in the water slowly)
B: wave your arms to float
A: Wow I’m really doing it!
(B is looking into the distance, there seems to be something in the water)
A: Hey My arms are tired can I stop?
A:(tries to stop but a force is forcing them to swim) LET ME GO!
B: not until the sharks get here
A: W-WHAT!! HELP!!!!! (struggling)
(suddenly B bends down to A’s face)
B: Stay away from my waters. . .
(Suddenly a shark grabs A by the ankle pulling their body underneath, bubbles and blood rise to the top.
B: Farewell!


I Was a River
By Nico

It’s May. I’ve been cut off, I remember when I ran freely last summer, I remember freezing over for the winter, keeping the fish swimming through me safe. I remember my shield of ice thinning and I was becoming the river I was last summer. Eventually I’ve melted completely. I’m free flowing. Children are dipping their feet in me and laughing. A father and son are fishing. But now, I've been cut-off. A wall of stone split me in half, I can hear on the other side, parts of me are flowing freely. But where I lay I am still. The fish on this side are stuck here until fall. There's a kid walking across the stone wall. They listen to music as they sit on the end of the wall. I want to tell them about how I used to run free, I used to flow through the wall that's here now. They can hear me, they understand. They're looking into me and seeing themself. I think part of them will always be with me here.


By Peggy

There I was, young, non adult me on the beach.
The sunset being the main attraction.
Suddenly out of the water emerged a person.
This scared me at first but I looked closer and there she was.
It was me but it wasn’t me.
She was Happy and in the outfit I ever longed for.
“You finally came,” I say as she goes to me.
“I came for you.” She says without smile.
“I came for your future, you’re the only one holding yourself back. . . look inside yourself, look "at me. I am what you longed for. I am the sun to your old self’s sunset. I am the morning star”
I’m shocked, how?
“How can I do this? I’ve been doubting myself for so long. Depression has been holding me back! So has school!”
“You are you, that is your shell, explore yourself, love, and you’ll see me as you”
“But you’re me!”
“You can make that happen, you’re your future”