‘Deep Dish Love’: Food & Memory at Taft

My second poetry workshop with Ms. Taylor’s 8th Grade class, had us busy, busy, busy. We read the Narrative Poem, Oranges by Mexican-American, poet, Gary Soto, then discussed the poem’s wonderful metaphors, sense images, nostalgia, voice, empathy, liminal nature, and what it means to be ‘stuck between worlds.’ To help get the poem into the student’s bodies, I divided the poem into sections (scored it ), and in 3 large groups asked the class to  quickly collaborate, improvise and then perform their section of ‘Oranges’ for the class.  As a prop, each group was  given one orange ball to represent the central fruit in the poem. I was surprised that students didn’t seem shy at all when coming up with and then presenting this performance– (another way of experiencing a poem).

Soon it was their chance to write their own memory, narrative or food-based poem. Dreams were also game. Here’s what some students came up with. Enjoy!

Ms. Taylor, 8th Grade
1st Period

Julia S.

The first time I walked
into Taft, I was twelve,
nervous, and weighted
down with 20 lbs of school
supplies in my backpack.
September. Tiles swimming
beneath my steps
my breath in and
out, as I walked towards
my first class, the one
run by the most amazing
algebra teacher in the school.

Jacob T.

I was walking to the liquor store
Me and my friend Will. Standing next to each other
holding hands so tight that an ant can’t get
in between us. We were so cold that we
hugged so our body heat could keep us
warm. We finally reached the store but
it was closed. Will started furiously cursing at
his apple that he was eating on the way.
While we went home, Will collapsed. I
poured hot chocolate on his face, but he still didn’t
wake up. I attached his
body to me from a string and dragged him all the
way home. I hate dreams.

Alenith H.

It was cold, freezing even
My breath was like a cloud floating in the air
He came outside with his beautiful smile
His eyes gleaming in the dimness of the
street lights
He wraps his fingers around mine, soft and warm
We stop outside of our favorite hang out
Our secret spot
It is filled with heat and the smell of warm apples
and something else that I don’t know
His voice fills the room as we share apple pie
and cider
It is a perfect moment, the perfect
yet it has drifted away

Cristian F.

The first time I tried to climb a tree
It was an apple tree
I was walking up the stairs
Creaking every step I took
I stepped on the soft mud
It was just solid enough to stand on
The apple tree in the distance
Like a mountain on the horizon
Step by step the tree is moving closer
Finally I get there
Little too afraid
But I wanted the apple and the exhilaration
I start struggling to lift myself up
Finally I reach and touch the apple
I pull it up and take in a crisp bite
The crunch of the apple
Refreshing for the work I put in

Kiera S.

My mom grew tomatoes
She put them on sandwiches
and in soups.
Her tomatoes were pretty,
red and round
I also grew tomatoes
They managed to contaminate
some soups and sandwiches
My tomatoes weren’t pretty
green and flat
My 7-year-old self didn’t
understand why mine were
deflated balloons and hers
were redder than the burns
she had gotten from working
on her tomatoes

Ms. Taylor, 8th Grade
3rd Period

I bite through the sweet yet bitter, cold
yet warm, dry but wet, smooth but rough
surface. It brings my siblings pleasure and
happiness. This one small fruit had changed
my perspective on fruits. Its vibrant shade
of red pierces my eyes as I bite into it.
We forget about our surroundings as we
take another and another bite. I take
one more final bite to realize my fruit is all gone.


Claudia G.

I remember when I was eleven
my friend and I were eating Oreos,
then I brought my turtle
and he was the same size as the Oreo.

I brought out my tiny, green turtle,
he had very sharp and point nails,
then I found Oreos
and figured out my turtle was the Oreo.
Not exactly the Oreo itself
but he was the same size as the Oreo.


Mark K.

The warm cheesy pizza comes out of the oven,
It looks like heaven waiting to be eaten.
When I cut through the crust,
The sound is leaves in the fall being stepped on.
When I take the first bite,
It tastes like the feeling you get when school is
out for the Summer.


Bubble Tea
Heidi B.

As I walk into a cute little shop
My Asian friend’s favorite,
we saw all the options & choices we
could pick of. It reminded me
of a little ice cream shop except it want.
It was as hard as taking an algebra
test to pick out the flavors. The
cash register person was waiting.
my friend decided on strawberry & I on
mango. I waited a couple mins. to get it.
It really felt like two seconds.
I tried it. The smoothie part
tasted good, amazing.
Once it came to the
actual boba, it tasted weird
Like the texture felt like Jell-O
Good but a bit weird.


Coffee Cake
Juliette C.

It was a warm summer day
My family came to visit the
Windy City for the first time
My aunt said she will make
a sweet treat for us.
It was so cold people could
see it snow.
It was sweet like chocolate.
it’s a great Belizean treat!

Ms. Taylor, 8th Grade
6th Period

The Hill in the Park
Matt C.

The first day of practice was a blistering hot day to begin with,
then we had to run the hill.
Sweat pouring down my face, a salty taste in my
mouth, then a cool breeze like that of a Winter’s day
when running down the hill.
I question why we run the hill, the coaches say it’s
to get us into shape. But I slowly begin to love
the hill, not because it was fun to run down, but at
the top you can see all the player’s jersey’s. Red, oranges,
and yellows like fire, deep blues like the ocean all moving
in one big pack. But that’s still not my favorite part.
My favorite part is watching the days get shorter and
more and more teams getting eliminated until min
is the only one standing in the park. The best
of the best above everyone else on he hill in
the park.

Megann L.

I sat next to him
set my placemat down
we got yogurts
Yum! I was 5
And 5 year olds love yogurts!
But this was a go-gurt
We sat there together
Slurping up the good-good ness
we sounded like vacuums
racing to who-ever sucked up the most garbage
then where was nothing else left but plastic
Snack was over

Dylan L.

sweet like candy
I ate it & it was crunch
4 picnic tables
& Watermelon seeds being
spit all over.

Pound Cake
Za’Nya S.

When I was younger, I’d ‘help’
meaning that I’d pas the ingredients
and eat all of the batter.
She’d let me eat as much as I’d like.
After all-I helped.
Everyone would compliment me on how
good it is and how I’m sooo good at

Now that I’m older I can
actually make it myself.
There would be flour and sugar everywhere.
It looked like a bakery exploded.
Now when I look a the cake everyone looks at it
as an accomplishment.
But to me its like teaching a dog how to sit.
They could always do it…


Ms. Taylor, 8th Grade
7th Period

The Light of my Life
Xochitl G.

Kneeling down slowly
like a prince in front of his princess,
He opens his hands the way he opens his heart
There upon his palm, a ring pop shines of
love as he gazes into my eyes.


Deep Dish Pizza
Hanna M.

Deep dish pizza is like
deep dish love.
Deeply broke college students
deeply needing a job.
Deep stuff comes with
deep stuffed pizza.
They were both working
together in a deep dish pizza serving restaurant with a deep hatred for
this deeply needed job.
But the deepness in each others
eyes was deeper than the deep
hatred, so it deeply connected them.
So I always am reminded of the deep
love my parents share
when eating deep dish


Oliva D.

The first time my friends came over I had a bag of
candy on my wrist. We were all walking down the steet.
Zombies, Pirates, Jokers and Curly-blue haired Jesus. All of
us chomping on our candy, going door to door for
more. I guess it was one happy Halloween.


Krishna M.

Rubbing my cold fingers near the sign
I paused and wondered
Where the bus was to stop.
At the clove of the season, but wasn’t
where Winter was coming there
and Summer left but not all the way.
The cloud kept sentry over the skies, shielding
the earth from the sun, thinking it was noble
When really , I prayed they would part
to form a bastion for me to linger.
And clear the frost and cold in my breath.
But at last! What was it, a shining light
beckoning me along the road.
It bobbed upwards, casing a fiery glare
across my eyes.
It chugged forward just as a tired soldier would.
Stopping right in front of me, releasing a bit of
exhaust. I climbed into the vehicle It
groaned as it edged forward., forcing warm
air all over. Not exactly gentle and
fast stallion I had been hoping for,
but none the less, a worthy way home.
All along the trip, I could only think of
how the driver, a strong and
silent figure would turn down the heat. For, it
grew to an unacceptable temperature. I need not only
the heat, but sustenance. Regardless, I wanted to
stay and so failed to voice my opinion. Brut the
bastion I had been seeking came as I arrived home
past cold and dying trees on frozen grazz to the warm embrace of

Ms. Taylor, 8th Grade
8th Period

Aaron I.

Oh, I don’t remember the first time I ate oranges
but I do recall
my teeth tearing
tearing the soft flesh
of a tangerine like a chainsaw
and coughing up the
stringy pulp in an
orange spray
in disgust

Matthew C.

Warm and fluffy

Box of Oranges
Bonnie K.

I carried the box of oranges
That felt like a box of bricks
From the front door to the dining room table
I set it on the dark brown wooden table in the dark room
I look a the box
On the top it stated in bold letters ‘Florida Oranges’
I pick up my keys
And cut the tape on the box
I pulled the flaps open
Inside there was rows of bright oranges

lighting up the room

Bipiin G.

We were loosing to a team
2 goals of dread
stood between me and victory
I bit an apple
It tasted bitter
So I put it back into my bag
We scored a goal and my heart
like an untalented drummer
skipped a beat.
Then I scored
It felt like someone injected energy
The last 60 seconds
was so long
I scored another one
I bit into the apple again
This time it was sweet




“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.