student work


 writing guide



Paper Café 2004


Ms. Bell / Mr. Kuzniewski:  9th grade



by Claire Campagne


It all began in the night…a dark night. I was going for a walk during the afternoon when suddenly, it got dark. The fog settled little by little…Soon, I couldn’t see the nearest tree. Panic-stricken, I began to run in all directions. The wood was dark and vast. I couldn’t see anymore, like a blind girl. The moon was absent in the black sky, so were the stars. My glasses weren’t helpful. I was lost.       

Everything seemed unfamiliar to me, I felt powerless and vulnerable. Everything around me was quiet. Too quiet. The wind blew through the leaves of the scary trees. Their branches were like bones, which changed them into frightening skeletons, wearing rags. No matter how scary it was, I tried to take fresh heart, to be brave and to continue on my way. I made up my mind to walk straight ahead, without thinking, without wondering. Just walking.

All at once, I felt a cold sensation on my cheek. A drop flattened on my skin. It was raining… The earth began to turn into mud. I had to be very careful not to slide and fall. I was thinking, “Remember, be strong in your head, be strong…”

Completely wet, I continued on my way. Soon, all began to turn into dark. I used the rain streaming down my face to mix my tears. I was in fact a little girl, very sensitive, like all little girls. I missed my teddy bear, my bed, Mom and Dad…I realized that I was totally lost. So I decided to take a break, to stop walking. I sat down, on a big stone, me, lonely, right in the middle of the dark wood, without anybody. Only the wind kept me company. I started to think, to think about anything, everything…

A happy thought came in my mind. The Father Christmas, my Father Christmas. I was imagining that I met him, in the sky, over the clouds. I was dreaming that he took me in his sleigh…I was sharing this unique moment with him, I was seeing the world like he sees it. It was marvelous…

Little by little, I began to fall asleep, in my world of this fairy tale…

In this scary atmosphere, there was an innocent little girl, feeling happiness in her dreams…




by Dean Fiacco


The tall stranger walked into the saloon with the swagger of a practiced gunslinger. He wore a round frayed cowboy hat pulled down to conceal his face, which turned as it surveyed the room. He had a long tattered leather coat, on the sleeve of which hung a dusty woman’s scarf a memento of some long-lost romance. Riding on the hips of his wool pants hung two Winchester .45’s. The grips were worn smooth, and the whole bar could see that these guns had seen a lot of action. His boots clicked as he walked towards the bar. One of the men at a card-table was unable to take anymore of this tall stranger’s incredible arrogance, strutting in as if he owned the place. The man shouted, “Hey bud you can’t just walk into my bar like God Almighty. Who the hell are you?” Heads around the room nodded in assent. The stranger turned his cold gray eyes, like chips of ice, onto the man. No one saw it happen, but in the blink of an eye the speaker was on the ground with a smoking hole in his chest. By the time they looked up, the man’s twin .45’s were both in their holsters! Whispers circled around the room as the man resumed his journey towards the bar. He asked for rum and paid in gold, which was unheard of. Gold hadn’t been seen in these parts for the better part of 10 years! The whispers grew to a dull roar as people talked about this stranger, who was faster than a bullwhip and rich too. Drink in hand, the stranger proceeded to sit down at an empty table. Behind him another man who was working on his fifth gin, decided to play at being the hero. He pointed his gun at the back of the stranger’s head. At the faint click of the hammer, the stranger threw himself sideways out of his seat. The weapon’s sharp report crackled in the air, and the bartender slumped over onto the bar. A split-second later another shot sounded, and the would-be hero joined the card player on the floor, albeit missing a chunk of his head. The stranger sat down casually, pulled out a cigarette and began to puff. People again began to whisper ,this time their voices edged with fear. “This guy ain’t  human,” whispered an old man. “Satan’s sent him to punish us all,” exclaimed an old woman, her voice rank with fear. The stranger smiled under his hat as the whispers reached his ears. He puffed thoughtfully in his chair, smoky figures coalescing around his weather-beaten face. Suddenly that tanned, cracked face crinkled in surprise. The gunslinger clutched at his chest, than slumped to the floor, dead. A crowd gathered round, and calloused, working hands reached out to touch the corpse. No one could believe he was dead. One of the men said, “Hey lets get this guy down to Jim’s.” Jim was the town doctor, and a mighty good one at that. Putting the body onto a homemade litter made from a broken table, they carried him down the dusty streets towards Jim’s house. A crowd gathered in the streets as the story spread, gaining momentum with each telling, so that by the time they had reached Jim’s porch, people were talking about how a fiery demon had appeared in the bar and shot the two men down with 2 flaming revolvers. Jim came out to look at the body. To no one’s surprise he was pronounced dead. The matter might have been left at that, but when the doctor heard the story he became curious and decided to perform an autopsy on the spot. He began in the chest cavity where witnesses had seen the man clutching shortly before he died, and it didn’t take long before the cause of death was discovered. It was hard to miss. People had been talking about how some demon had possessed him and eaten his heart and other such stories. However, the truth was much more mundane. The doctor found what remained of the man’s lungs. It was hard to believe that he had breathed through these tar encrusted lumps that were blacker than night. “It was a wonder he lived even this long,” commented Jim. “Funny,” said another man, “Funny that the deadliest killer this day ain’t some swaggerin’ sharpshooter, but a tiny cigarette.”



Summer Time

by Amadou Konteye


Bright yellow rather than gold

Light mellow wind rather than cold

It is the time of the year when school is no longer

Cooler than the pool

Every single kid acts like a fool

I stand with a backpack full of school tools waiting

After the sun for more fun

 Hoops and dinner full of chicken soup.



Why Me?  An excerpt

by Crystal Morales


          Why me? Why did I have to be a victim to this hideous unbeatable monster? I was just going through some problems with Ray. He was getting me frustrated. Not letting me go out or have any friends. He never let me do anything but stay home and watch the kids or go to work. He always goes out with his friends from work, and I just wanted to do the same!

            So one night I got all dressed up, called two of my associates from work, and invited them to go to a bar to have some drinks. I left with Ronnie around 9:30 p.m. We got at the bar around 10:15 p.m. Sally had to go home because her husband called her and told her to hurry on home. So it was just Ronnie and I. I had so many drinks. Ronnie was getting scared. She told me to stop drinking but I just didn’t care. Drinking was making me not worry about how bad Ray had been treating me. Especially since I had left the kids home with a babysitter. I asked for another drink and when it came, Ronnie grabbed it away from me. I grabbed it back and called her “ B****. ”

            She got really upset and left me at the bar without a ride home. I got really frustrated and began to drink even more. That’s when I met John. He came and introduced himself to me. He was really nice and charming with his flirtatious comments. He asked what had happened between my friend and me because he had seen us arguing. I explained the situation to him and that I didn’t have a ride to go back home, so he offered to drive me home. He seemed really sweet so, I said, “ why not?” He had a white Cadillac pickup.

            I told him my address and he began to drive. He offered me a beer and I took it. A few minutes later while we were on the road I felt really sleepy, but I could still tell that he was driving the wrong way. I looked over at him and his face seemed really blurry, like a mirror in a steam room.

            I fell asleep, and when I woke up we were at Edge Point. That was the place where all the high school students would go to make out, since it was in the middle of nowhere. I got really scared. My heart felt like as if it were a train trying to pop out of my chest. Then he carried me out of the car into a small hut near by….

* * *

            As I stand here looking out of my window and into the yard, I’m realizing something. I’m not actually going to die, because I died that night when I met John. He took away my security and trust for others. He killed my emotions and soul. The only thing that has kept me alive this long is my children. Arieta and Ricardo. I’ll always love you.



by Jack Pollock


When the sun flickers

Through thin rounded leaves

Before the clamoring

And engines howling


My grandfather and I take steps

Our shoes submerged in gentle dew


He bends down

Extending his arm

Holds a ball and a tee

Resting between two long tapered fingers

Thumb trapping the ball


Punctures the firm grass

Weathered ball now sits

Upright on the standing tee


A cool breeze disrupts the branches

Causing thin white strands of my grandfather’s hair

To fly wildly


My club sweeps back like a broom

Then swiftly down

Breaking air

Impact releases a high-pitched ping  


I watch patiently

Ball suspended in stiff air

Bounces three times

Then skids across green carpet

Like a jet ski through a calm lake


I glance over at the smile that stretches over his tired face

His deep blue eyes gleaming

I feel the slight pressure

Of five fingers against my back


Now that’s how to hit em!



by Abi Sayre



Outside my window

A loose flower petal,

Broken from its stem


This pointe shoe is not for dancing

At least not anymore

It is the breath on the back of my neck

A steady reminder to do better

To have determination

To have heart


The pointe shoe is my mother

Not just because of the way the laces fall

Curled and loose like the strands of her hair

Not only because of the silky surface

Smooth and elegant like her face


The light from the sky and

The pink of the shoe

Sparkle and dance on the bedroom wall

Almost as gracefully as she once did


Dancing to the beat of her heart

That told her

This is what you want to do

And this is what she was going to do


When I am a lost deer in a snowstorm

Or when I find the star I want in my pocket

And my heart’s song amplifies

That pointe shoe,

The one that supported the foot

Of a girl with a dream

Dances for me



About Me

By Michael Wang


 Now I am at Kent, but I don’t know where my soul is, because I have time to think of Taiwan family and friends. Although I don’t make conversation with you, I will practice hard, until I’m as good as everybody. Sometimes I want to say something to everybody, but I can’t, so I have to do something special to let everybody know me.



I see the picture, the man is very sorrowful, all the scenery is very sorrowful. I see dead leaves and a tree. I see the man dig the sad sad rock.



In the rain!

In the rain, I have romantic sense perception. Because I have emotions…Something to do with the rain, they occur.  Lover’s likeness in the rain, meet or separate. 



The Matador

by Tyler Kuzniewski  T.A.


Antonio Ordonez, Pamplona’s most revered bullfighter stands in the middle of the ring looking as pristine and handsome as if he was on the red carpet.  He is a tall, dark-skinned, muscular man, with jet-black, slicked back hair.  He has a shiny, gold necklace with a quarter-sized medallion around his neck that seems to blind the entire crowd.  He is dressed flawlessly, with shiny green pants with an elaborate sequence decoration draped across his thighs.  His pants are fitted very high and tight around his waist, almost symbolizing the very serious and business-like decorum that Ordonez presents before he is ready for battle… 


I stand there in the middle of the ring, tens of thousands of people chanting my name after I repeatedly slashed the bull down to the last pump of his massive heart.  Just before he was ready to charge me with one last heroic dash, I looked into his eyes and I saw it.  Behind all of the anger, hurt, violence, frustration, I saw his fear.  The bull was scared to die; he was absolutely frightened because he had acknowledged the notion that his life was hanging by a thread.  The bull knew that he needed to conjure up all of his might in order to make one final rush and keep himself alive.  This is where my realization had become as clear as day. 

I have been a bullfighter for as long as I can remember, and because everyone around Spain knew me as a prodigy, I was just thrown into the ring just expected to wow the crowd.  Throughout all of those years, all of those bullfights, all of those supporters coming to watch me, and all of those dead bulls; this one fight was the fight that turned me into a man.             

I realized that what I do for a living is absolutely worthless.  In essence, I get paid to murder brilliant, beautiful animals.  Beneath all of the fame, glory, and money what I do is nothing, but the slaughter of innocent animals in front of thousands of strangers for entertainment.  Realization conquers all innocence.  It turns the immature into mature and it makes those who are naïve become aware.  This is the realization that changed my life.  Suddenly my profession was no longer about me, or about the fans that came to watch this spectacle.  It was man versus beast; both beings fighting for their lives in order to give people their money’s worth.  These words trickled through my brain for the next couple of seconds and almost made me vomit.  But instead of leaving my insides on the floor in front of the massive arena, my body went into a sudden shock.             

The bull realized this, let out one more smoky breath from his flaring nostrils, hoofed the dusty arena floor twice with his monstrous front leg, and began to charge.  By the time the bull was halfway between me and the point at which he started, I snapped right back into my surroundings.  It felt like I had been in a coma for two years, and  was abruptly thrown into the middle of oncoming traffic.  A role-reversal had just come into play where I, for the first time actually feared for my life.  I had never been put into a position like this, and now in a matter of seconds my life would be over.  As the bull lowered his horns to buck me, I went to make my move, but clumsily lost my footing as I went to pivot.  I saw the bull’s eyes get as big as tennis balls.  At this same moment I saw the entire crowd focus their attention on me like they always have, but now for a very different reason. 

In these minuscule milliseconds I processed so many thoughts that had never crossed my mind before.  I thought maybe I should die because I have been nothing to society.  I have lived a selfish and lavish life for as long as I have been a bullfighter.  As I slipped on the gravel floor I felt a steaming sensation like a hot poker piercing my right bicep, I knew this had to be the bull’s razor sharp horn stabbing my muscle.  Luckily, I was able to switch my sword into my left hand and swung it with all of the anger and frustration that had been eating at me, I shattered the bull’s hind leg through the bone.  As I fell from my feet, I could hear the thunderous thud of the bull colliding the ground and the electric cheer of thousands of people cheering my miserable glory.  As I looked up into the crowd, I saw a young boy not knowing whether to cry or cheer.  He nearly saw a grown man brutally slaughtered by an animal, but instead he saw a man almost lose his arm and a bull lose his leg.  This allowed me to grasp how easily my performances play with the emotions of those watching me.  I am a hero to all of those families who come and watch me perform on the grandest stage in Spain.  It is all I have ever known how to do and I think it is all I ever will know.



Night Poem

by Elana Bell


It must be a kind of madness

standing under a silver birch

the hour just past twilight

trying to translate

the way this particular tree sounds


Is it a rustle?

Not exactly

A whisper almost human

 how it speaks


Walking away offers no relief

The ferns wave


they lift


Every image that crosses

my vision must be explained

The soda can

in the grass

a crystal eye

The way light

tickles water

That tree

swishing  still


Is that right?

And so on

into the night


I’ll never sleep 



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