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Augusto By Timothy Mock Cleveland is a tough town where crime and murder are common, yet amongst all of that there was a peaceful garden because of a few special people. I was born in Cassino Italy on a small farm. There were many animals and dirt paths. There were bicycles and horses for transpiration. Unfortunately I’m the third oldest child in my family. That means my older brother inherits all the land and I have none. I decided Id have a better chance moving to America because their were more opportunities. Taking my suitcase leaving all I knew. Knowing what I didn’t take id never see again. Saying good-bye to everyone I ever knew knowing ill never see my family again. I packed my bag sold my possessions and bought a ticket. Riding third class on a boat of immigrants is difficult. One of the only things I had was a photograph of my family. Once I landed in the city of New York. Coming off the boat was an experience like no other weird languages I never new before. From a small farm to one of the biggest cities in the world was very challenging. I had no real job and was new so I got taken advantage of. For example people clammed I took the wrong change. Things were rough and lonely there so I decided to move to Cleveland because it was cheap, had more job opportunities and my older brother lived there. I took a train and got there in a day. His apartment over looked an empty lot with few plants. Over time the lot evolved to a huge community garden. There strange plants growing and even stranger people growing


them. I noticed a man running with lettuce to his taxi to sell and it gave me an idea. I could grow zucchinis as a side job. They reminded me of my home in Cassino while my mother would chop and cook them in a pot with fresh chicken meat from the yard. They would sell for a lot of money and extra cash couldn’t do any harm. When I went to work at a dry cleaners store owned by a Korean lady it was the perfect place to advertize my zucchinis. I had a sign near the register. The shop was a block away of the garden so on breaks I can water my plants and weed. Gardening made me remember my homeland and it flooded me with memories. Growing up on a farm and now being in a city I was so happy to plant again. I started out my garden with some seeds I bought for 30 cents. The first sprouts were yellowish turning to a deep green followed by leaves and flowers. They were just as I remembered. It grew up great and before long they were ready to be picked. Times were rough than, and rent was expensive. My income alone could not pay for my share I needed to pay for the apartment. Our small two-room apartment had no hot water and one bathroom per floor. Me my brother and his wife were all sharing the cost. The zucchinis helped but still I had no spending cash and could only afford the essentials. I had another idea. I bought some more seeds Tomatoes, Peppers, Basil, and broccoli and planted them. In about three weeks when they were ready to be harvested I sold them. Outside the store .My brother’s kid was ran a small farm stand full of produce I grew. All hope was not lost. A man that owned a pizzeria across the street who was also Italian named Pepe walked in the store and started talking to me. He said he was interested in my crops that I grew. He was willing to pay me a fair price per week for the vegetables. I had my first repeat customer.


Alejandro By: Andrew Kunoff

Life is like a roller-coaster. You keep on moving forward… it goes up but then it drops……………… If you’re lucky, it goes back up and you enjoy the ride. I’m sitting on my couch doing my homework when I heard the car doors slam. The front door to my house opened and all I heard was yelling and screaming. My parents have been fighting all month; I’m getting so tired of it. Life was good before my parents started fighting, but now it’s going downhill fast. When my parents split up everything got worse. I was only 14 years old. First, we had to move out of our house. Then the economy in Cuba got so bad that there were a lot of people on the streets. My father used to say that we were a poor country because it was Communist. Once we stopped trading goods with the United States and Europe it seemed like time stood still. It is crazy; there are almost no new cars in Cuba. We had a 1958 Chevy that my father was always fixing. I figured I was going to be poor for the rest of my life. I had to go live with my mother at my Aunt’s house but she soon told us we had to leave. My mother couldn’t afford to take care of me anymore so I was put into a foster home. I was there for about a year, it was alright but they too couldn’t afford to keep me so I went to live in a special home for teenagers in downtown Havana. One night, I was on the streets and I heard that a bunch of people were going to try and leave Cuba on a boat in the middle of the night so I followed the small crowd. I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t know where I was going, I just knew that I needed to get out of that place so I


snuck onto the boat as if I belonged. We hit land about 3 hours later. I was in Florida. The problem was that I was now an illegal immigrant in a country I only heard about. When I got off the boat I noticed three people with handcuffs on inside a police car. I wanted to know what had happened so I got a bit closer. I overheard the policeman talking to them. He said “since you guys can’t prove you’re citizens; I’m going to have to send you back where you came from”. I overheard someone saying there was a law that allowed police officers to stop “boat people” and ask for your id to prove that you were a US citizen. It didn’t look like they were bothering any of the kids but I knew I needed to get out of there quick; I didn’t want to go back to Cuba. For the next few weeks I lived with my cousin Fernando in Florida. I searched Miami for two days until I found him. It seemed he and his family didn’t want me to live with them, so they put me on a plane that flew to Cleveland, Ohio. It turns out that I had another cousin there whose name was Roberto. His family lived in an old brick apartment house on Gibb Street which was downtown near the old waterfront docks next to a vacant lot. They lived on the fifth floor and there wasn’t an elevator. It reminded me of the tenements in Havana. I hoped to discover the America I had heard about soon.

4 YEARS LATER

I’m looking out my window at the beautiful community garden. I can’t believe how it has grown in the past few years. When I got here it was a vacant lot. I was like a blank slate then but I realize now how much I have grown too. I can’t believe I’m going to Kent


State University in the fall. I have been watching this garden grow for the last four years. I think I am going to meet with some of the people who have been working really hard down there. Maybe they will let me help too. The next day, as I entered the garden I saw a guy with a gray hat on trimming a beautiful yellow bush. I asked him what his name was and if there is enough room for one more? He said his name was Ross and exclaimed “sure there is enough space.’’ ”I told him that I admired what the community has done and I’m looking forward to being a part of it. I asked him what flowers I can use to make my patch of soil look like a little baseball diamond. “ ”He said he thought green clover with white daisies would do the trick. “ A couple of days later, I showed up prepared with rakes, shovels, and a lot of seed. When I saw Ross he said,” you can work over here” as he pointed to a 6 by 8 foot plot. “I said great.” “Then Ross asked me why a baseball diamond?” I quickly responded “because I grew up playing baseball. My dad taught me how to play back in Cuba, but I haven’t seen my dad in 5 years. My parents split up when I was fourteen and I haven’t spoke to them since. My dad was a good baseball coach. He used to teach all the kids in the neighborhood how to play. We played in a lot similar to this one before you turned it into a garden. I live with my cousin Roberto and his parents Manuel and Maria right up there. They all have been so supportive of me especially when it comes to school. I made the JV baseball team in 9th game and now I’m the starting shortstop on the Varsity team. They have come to almost all my games for the past 4 years. I think I’d like to dedicate my flower project to them. Do you think you can help


me make some kind of plaque? I ended up getting a special scholarship to Kent State for having excellent grades and being a good ball player.” “Congratulations, said Ross.” “Do you like sports? I said.” “Ross said, yes but I don’t play anymore because I’m too old. In the garden a couple of years ago I made a soccer ball out of old birch twigs. I loved soccer when I was a kid. I was hoping to get at a scholarship to Ohio State University but it didn’t happen for me. When I was younger I played right here at this lot after school. I would be here for hours kicking the ball against that fence over there but that was a long time ago. Let’s just get to work now.” A couple of weeks went by and I was finishing up the infield of my diamond. It was really starting to look like a field. The clover had started to grow in nicely but I had to prune the daisies every day to keep them looking like the bases. I have been going there each day this summer after my landscaping job. Ross helps me work on the flower field. I plan on making a plaque that I plan on dedicating to the Martinez family (my cousins). Last week he found a cool piece of wood but it was stuck between two very heavy rocks 3 feet in the ground. I immediately remembered seeing a big guy in the garden last year who had a beautiful tomato patch so I asked Ross if he thought he would help us. I asked what his name was and he said “Curtis.” Ross said, “that he would ask him to come by tomorrow.” The next day I brought a shovel to the garden and Curtis was able to dig out this heavy flat piece of wood that was perfect for my plaque.


Ross helped me carve it to look like two baseball bats crisscrossed holding up a sign on top. It has been a six weeks since I began my planting. Now I am getting complements on my flower field, everybody really likes it. Right now I am just trimming it up and getting ready to put the plaque on. The summer is now ending and Ross has organized a small block party that will be held in front of the garden. I can’t wait to show my cousins what I have done. During the party I introduced my cousins to Ross and Curtis, but I really wanted them to meet Kim. She was the one who started the whole garden. Ross told me all about her and the good work she did. He told me early on there was a problem getting water to the garden and they all had to use funnels to get the water. We all ate cake and walked into the garden because I wanted to dedicate my patch and say a few words to everyone. This is what I said: I just want to thank everyone for coming this afternoon it really was a success. I am so proud to be a part of the Gibb Street Garden. The plantings here are beautiful, but the people that made them bring it to life. I really want to thank Ross for allowing me to participate and helping me make my flowers grow. I call my little patch “Alejandro’s Dream Field” because it represents my dream to someday soon be able to support myself. I want to thank the Martinez family for putting me on the road to reaching my dream. I would not be here today without them. The Martinez family, hard work, and my love for baseball has brought me to this day. Manuel, Maria, and Roberto… I love you. And the plaque read: Alejandro’s Dream Field, dedicated to the Martinez family for allowing me to dream.


Fernando By:

My name is Fernando Gonzalez; I came to United States when I was ten year old. My mother wanted to move to Cleveland because the Dominican Republic did not have much opportunity for our family future plus the Dominican Republic was not a wealthy country it was in fact, poor. I am now 14 year old and I speak English language fairly well. It took me while to adapt here and learn the English language; our mother schooled my seven sisters and me at home until we understood the language. I am the youngest of seven children and the only boy, my oldest sister is 18, and I care deeply for my sisters. My family is going through hard time because a white man replaced my papa. All my sisters got jobs already, now it was my turn. It’s problem for me because my accent is very thick and not a lot of people can understand what I say. I decided I would baby sit for the family, maybe I would be good at it and would make decent money for my papa. My babysitting job did not work because one of Lopez children down the street threw up and their parents had to come back home from their night out. I got fired from job. One day instead of walking to school the regular way, I decided to look for new shortcut. As I was looking for a shortcut on Gibb Street there was something that caught my eye, it was community garden. I stopped and stared at it for a few seconds to see all people working and I continued my way on. After school I wanted to go back to the garden but I had to be home on time for dinner we having steak, expensive steak that we have every five months because its expensive and hard to find, steak is my favorite meal. After mama told me to go to bed, I could not sleep; I was laying there in my bed


continuously thinking about the garden. I had to be sitting there for at least 2 hours until I realized that it would be perfect job for me. I was set that I would go there in the morning before school. I finally went to bed. The next morning I was eager to go to garden and see if I could get job. I went into the kitchen to greet my parents, ate breakfast, and I was gone. On the way I saw this old man who was walking to the store and back with many different tools. As I made a left turn on Gibb Street I saw the old man again so I decided to talk to him. His name was Eugene. I asked him if he has his own plot in the community garden and his answer was yes. “I don’t know how much longer I am going to have the garden though, because it is getting harder to tend. I cannot find anybody to help me so I really cannot keep it anymore.” This was my chance!!!!! I told him that I was desperately looking for a job for my family because we are in hard times and I was hired for 5 dollars an hour. I thanked Eugene big time and continued my way on to school. The next day I told my parents about the job and they were very happy for me. On Saturday I received my first pay, I was exhausted. I worked for five hours and walked away with fifty dollars while my papa watched the whole time. Later that night at dinner papa mentioned the job saying how good pay was and wondering if he is hiring anybody else I told him that he did not need anybody else for the job. The next week Eugene gotten badly ill and went to the hospital. My family went to visit Eugene and they said Eugene might not make it. “ I don’t think I am going to make it, but I will sell I to you for 100 dollars.” My family were shocked at this offer, we bought the garden plots in a heartbeat. It is now been five months since Eugene has past away; even though we


haven’t known him much we played our respects to Eugene and said our goodbyes. Eugene would be dearly missed. Our garden has brought our family out of our depression because we know grow many crops and sell it to people in October when everybody’s crops are dead. If I had to say Eugene was like our guardian angel, as if he was put on this earth to help or family. If it was not for Eugene, we would not be able to pay our bills and we would be on the street. Thank you Eugene.


Andy. That's me. I'm a little girl of 13 years. No body or no one talks to me. I do not think a little girl like me should be ignored that way. I take this very seriously. I do not know why people give me a look when I pass them. Is it because I'm fat? That's rude, if that's the reason. I do not think a little girl like me should be getting this treatment. I am depressed and lonely. I moved here because my father had a great job promise in Maryland. The job didn't really exist, my dad got so mad that he yelled and screamed and ran out of the house and SLAMMED the door. My family and I moved to this country about 7 years ago. I moved from Britain. I talk fluent British but not so much English. It took us forever to come to the United States. I am so happy we made it here. It’s been so long since I've been on land. I wanted to take a walk around the neighborhood so I got up out of my comfy black chair and I grabbed my jacket and shoes and shot out of the doors. The day was a sunny and nice comfortable day.

I took a stroll around and I saw something interesting. But I didn’t care to look.

But I saw eyes all around me starring at me in an odd way. I saw this lot, it was a vacant lot. Then I looked closer. It looked like there were plants surrounding the area. I had some time before dinner so I took a little walk by. I walked over and I saw this girl. She


looked pretty nice so I walked to her. I ask, “What is this fine are doing here on Gibb Street?” The lady said, “It was a community garden”. I thought to myself its such a beautiful garden in this place and especially on a vacant lot. I started to walk home. I heard something behind me I got scared so I started to jog home. I had one more block till I hit my house. I heard the something once more I turned but I didn’t see anything. I got even more scared I started to run. I was two houses away. I finally reached my house. I sprinted into my house and we sat down and had dinner. We had steak, rice, and mashed potatoes too. It was so good. I walked upstairs and I got into my pajamas and undid my bed and got in it. I laid down and I sunk into my bed. I fell asleep right away. I woke up the next day and ran down the stairs ad had my cereal for breakfast. I ran back upstairs and I got dressed and ran down the stairs. I screamed ‘Mom im leaving im going to the garden I told you about”! She answered back “ok hunny be careful”! I ran down the three blocks I had to go to get to the community garden. I ran up to the girl I saw yesterday who introduced me to the garden. I grabbed a shovel, grabbed the seeds and started to dig. I planted my plants. They grew nice and full and pink. The Garden came together just like a family lives together.


Agaila By Kristen Mckenzie Agaila’s my name no questions no comments and yet you ask my age? 12. Then you ask where I live. Canon ave, in Cleveland. Finally you ask my background well you will have to wait and see. My best friend Mandy was shot in a drive by attack. Ever since then I didn't talk much. My dad wasn’t at the apartment much and when he did come to the house my mom would always kick him out. My dad was a mad influence. Once Mandy died I started hanging around no one. My grades were dropping I always cried. My mom didn't talk about the incident much and that made me happy. Months went on and it became hard without Mandy around. Our annual sleepovers turn into me watching soap operas. I didn’t talk to my mom a lot because she was always working. She worked at a diner from 2 in the morning until 11 at night and on weekends she was out and about. I never really notice and I never really cared. One Saturday my mom asks me to go get the groceries and hurry back so she can make dinner. I had to walk up Main Street and down westward ave. It toke half hour just to get there. On my way back I decided to go down Gibb Street. As I walk down Gibb Street I saw something that changed the way Cleveland was. It was a group of mixed people planting and picking their plants. I had to of lost track of time because when I got home my mom was worried sick about me. She always spoke broken English. But me I spoke fine. She would always say.... I been told you not to wonder around them streets you would get injured or killed like Mandy. After I heard that comment I started to cry. I missed Mandy and my mom had to bring up the moment when It all started. We were


walking down the street and there was a man running away from a car that had a gun pointing out the window. As he pulls the trigger I duck. BOOM BOOM then I look up she was died on the ground. I cry and cry and cry. The police had to take me away from the sense. But before I left to never see her again I took off her best friend bracelet that I made her for her birthday 2 years ago. After that flashback I went outside and decided to get a better look at the community garden. When I got there ,there was a man planting tomatoes. I asked him if I could plant strawberries and he said I could. With my luck he had strawberry seeds I started planting . Mandy’s favorite fruit was strawberries and this should help me get her off my mind. Everyday after school I would spent hours working on my plants. 3 months later my strawberries were ready for picking. A man named Curtis helped me pick my plants. I gave him half of my strawberries and instead of eating them he gave it to a homeless man. It’s been a long time since I talk to my mom. And today was her birthday. I decided to get her something special. I took the 25 dollars that I got for my birthday and bought her a wonder necklace. When I showed it to her it was like my best friend Mandy was back in my arms. I loved the feeling of being loved again.


Pieter By: John Natalone It’s been one whole year now. One year since the day I lost my mother. It started 23 years ago, when I was born in Poland. When I was 7, my mother, my father, and I moved here to America. We settled in this very neighborhood in Cleveland. We weren’t together for long. Two years after I moved here, my mother and father divorced. My father ran away. Where – I have no idea. I stayed with my mother, and forever I shall. Until she passed. That was one year ago, but it felt like yesterday. It was a Saturday. I went out to get the groceries. I walked into my apartment to see her collapsed on the floor. I ran to the phone and called 9-1-1, but it was too late. Every morning, I take a jog to keep my mind off her, but almost nothing works. One day on my daily jog, I decided to take a new route on Gibb Street. As I was jogging, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I stopped and looked. It was a small garden. I remember gardening with my mother back in Poland. It was my favorite time of the day back then. With those sweet memories, I decided to start my own little garden. The next day, I went to the store and got some flowers and an assortment of seeds. No vegetables, just flowers. Then I headed to the garden to plant them. That first day, I planted only one flower. It was a small purple violet. I don’t know why, but that flower always stood out. Over the next couple of weeks, I planted A LOT more flowers. Pretty soon, I had a real nice flower patch going. The entire time, I wasn’t thinking of my mother at all. But then Mother’s Day came.


When I saw it on my calendar, only one week away, thoughts of my mother, good and bad, flooded through my mind. I didn’t go to the garden that day. When I did, the next day, my flowers were really looking good. A man came up to me and commented on my flowers. He said that they were nothing like he’d ever seen. He said that he wanted to buy them off of me for Mother’s Day. I replied with one word. “Sure.” After that man came more men, women, even children were asking to buy my flowers. That entire week leading up to that Mother’s Day was very enjoyable. I met a lot of new people that week and flowers were being sold like crazy. By the end of that week before Mother’s Day, I sold every single flower from my garden. Except one. That first purple violet I planted was still there; it still stood strong. For some weird reason, I felt happy. I felt some sort of… feeling that’s impossible to describe. I went home that night. Tomorrow was Mother’s Day, and I felt lost. All those good people bought my flowers for their mothers. If only I could do the same. All I had were my hopes, my dreams, my thoughts. And my garden. I did have my garden. I fell asleep that night feeling a bit better. When I woke up that Mother’s Day, I took that first purple violet I planted and placed it on my front porch so my mother can see it from up there. I then went to the store and got more violet seeds. I then planted them in my garden. A month later, I looked at my violets coming out of the soil. They were all beautiful; I knew my mother could see them. That day, a man asked if he could buy one off of me. I smiled.


Leslie June

I was 34 when my husband left me. Alone. That was two years ago. The old me. When i lived in Texas, when I had curly, red hair, when I was "looser", had a normal weight size and had a strong Tennessee accent. My accent eased by the time I got to America. I'm a brunette with blonde highlights now. I used to be a perfect weight size but with all this stress and my job I barely have time to eat...come to think of it...I barely have time to go poo! I'm starting to think about it and I realize...it's not my fault I'm not as loose as I used to be. It's all my ex-husbands fault. He left me for that cheap, secretary that wore way too much make up AND perfume. My friends and I always saw her in the elevator. We always joked around after she left about how she should just take a shower instead of


spraying herself all over with cheap nasty perfume. My co-workers say I'm jealous. They say I should be more like her. They say I should put more time into my work. They say I should pay more attention. They say I should stop being so lazy. Wanna know what I say? I say they should mind they're own business. I hated everything about my life. I was lonely, and I had the worst job ever. I wanted to move. So I did. Because I can. I wanted to get away from this but it stayed the same. I was walking through the street and I saw something so terrible, so crazy and I had to hide that very second. It was my ex-husband. Lying, cheating, dirty ex-husband I should say. He was outside the pizzeria waiting for her. I could smell that perfume from miles away. "Oh my gosh! Is that Leslie I see?" Jackson, my ex-husband said. "No, its Leslie JUNE! Okay? Don't call me Leslie ever again." I said with fire in my eyes. "You're still not over that?" He said as if he knew that I was still in love with him. No response. "Okay, the silent treatment..really?" Jackson said laughing. "My mama told me if you have nothing nice to say..don't say it and trust me I have NOTHING to say! You seriously need to get over yourself and what are you even doing here. Are you following me or something" I said giggling yet serious. "Following you? HA!" Jackson said as if it were true. "Yeah, whatever." I walked away. I was walking to my house taking a different route. As I was walking I passed this beautiful garden on Gibb Street. The flowers were blosseming, the birds were singing, the wind was blowing through my hair, and the sun was shining on my face. I felt like I did


two years ago. When I was "looser". I like the old me. I felt more free and outgoing. I wanted to feel this way all the time. But how? I went up closer to examine it...to observe it. I went to touch it...as I was feeling the squash, it felt like electricity. I was amazed by this feeling. I wanted to feel that way all the time. I went to the supermarket to get seeds. "Pumpkin seeds, rice, lima beans, lettuce, peppers, squash, so many more!" I whispered to myself. "May I help you, ma'm?" Someone who worked there asked me. His name tag said Bryan. "No thank you, Bryan." I replied with a smile. "Anytime." Bryan said with disappointment. I think he just wanted to chat with me. He was kinda cute I guess. His smile was amazingly cute. He had the cutest dimples ever. Big brown eyes. Long eyelashes. Sweet, simple, shy. "On second thought, Bryan, can you help me find the....umm..." I said wondering what I can make up for him to talk to me. It felt like high school all over again. "Yeah?" He said smiling. Ooh, those dimples! Thats all I was thinking when we made eye contact. We had a moment. In high school I would have written this in my diary. "Where's the yogurt?" I asked. "It's right under your nose!" He said sarcastically. I was confused. "Under my nose?" I asked in confusion. "I meant, it's right there..." He said.


"You're not out much, are you? Have you visited the garden on Gibb Street?" He asked. "Am I out much? No. Have I visited the garden on Gibb Street? Yes! I absolutely love it! Why do you think I'm buying all these seeds?" I replied with a smile. "Oh, cool BEANS! Haha, you get it? 'Cause we're talking about seeds..and lima beans are a type of seed..and...yeah..." He said with embarrassment. I still laughed though. "Yeah, maybe we can go together sometime to, you know, the garden?" I asked with half a smile. "Well my shift ends in ten minutes..if you want?" He asked with hope. "Sure! I'm just gonna buy these seeds first!" I said with excitement. I bought the seeds. Ive never planted anything before in my whole entire life. I never had the interest but when I saw the garden on Gibb Street, I instantly wanted to be apart of it! Bryan made me want to be apart of it even more. "$25.50" The checkout lady said while I was daydreaming about planting. "EXCUSE ME?!?!?!" She said with anger. I was still daydreaming, staring out the window. "HELLO? EXCUSE ME?!?!?! MISS!!!!! ARE YOU GONNA ANSWER ME?!?!?" She said with an attitude which woke me up as much as a bat hitting me in the face did. "Yes, oh, I'm so sorry, here you go!" I said with a worried smile. "MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMHM" She said while rolling her eyes. I thought about rolling my eyes back but I didn't want to start any trouble. I


REALLY just wanted to punch her in the face but I know she can beat me up without a struggle. I just wanted to tell her to cry me a river and to get over it but, who knows where that will end up. I waited outside for Bryan, putting my groceries in the trunk of my car. He never came. So typical. I should have known, all boys are the same. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to go to the garden in hope that it would make me feel better but I didn't know if it would remind me of Bryan or not. "Whatever, I'm so over him, I can deal." I thought to myself. I left the supermarket on my way to the garden on Gibb Street. It was empty, and quiet. Everything I needed. I blasted my music took out the seeds, and started gardening. The final result: it soothed my pain. I forgot everything in the world that very second. All I thought about was gardening. I started thinking, I don't need anyone in my life. All I need is this garden and my music. I already planted all my seeds..and I bought A LOT! I went home, turned off the lights, lit up some scented candles, put on soothing music, and sunk in a bathtub of hot water. The phone did NOT stop ringing. I didn't care. I didn't move. It's been over an hour and I was shriveled up like a raisin! I thought that it was about time to get out of the bathtub to check my phone messages, maybe even watch a few movies. Wow, fifteen messages. Not worth checking. *Delete all*. "Call me loosy goosy! I have changed and I'm liking the new me!" I said to myself looking at an my old wedding picture of me and Jackson. I threw it into the trash, took a can of chocolate frosting, and watched my favorite old time movies, Flashdance, Dirty Dancing, Moulin Rouge, etc. I was in sweats, I had a facial mask on, I couldn't get over myself. I couldn't believe it. I changed so much! I was a little bit scared but I think thats the point. Maybe not knowing whats going to happen next is the great part about


life. Maybe not. The phone rang. I REALLY didn't want to answer it! But I did. I couldn't just lye down in bed ALL day. It did sound good but I just couldn't. I answered the phone and it was...Jackson? I hung up before he could even finish saying "Hey". I had no idea what he wanted and I had no care at all. I hated his guts. I hated the way he walks, the way he talks, everything! I was a little curious of what he wanted and why he called. I was sitting by the phone, debating myself if I should call back or something...UGH! WHY DID HE CALL!?!??!?!?!?!?!?! I went to the supermarket to get more seeds so I can plant which would maybe take my mind off of Jackson and why he called. I bought two of each types of seeds. I got on line then I saw Bryan. I tried hiding my face...didn't work. He walked over to me. "Leslie June, I know you're mad but I can explain!" He said with hope in his eyes. "Hm, what? Why, because you didn't come with me to the garden? Oh nope, I'm over that, its fine." I said as if I didn't care at all. I don't know if i did. "Oh alright, good. Maybe we can go now? I'm free!" He said. "Oh no, I'm gonna ride this one solo." I said with a smile. "So, you are mad?" Bryan asked. "Nope, I'm not mad." I said with no problem. “Oh. Okay then.” He said walking away. I was proud of myself. I’m alone and I’m proud! I’m going to go plant in the garden now.


Mack By: Kyle Gorman The warm summer night reminded me when the guards took me from my small cell in Mayaguez Puerto Rico I grabbed my jacket and watched all the people in their cells as I left the prison. As my father gave the man queue to push me up the ramp they closed the door and it was black. That was three years ago. Now I’m in Cleveland. It was a dark and stormy day no one was out just people under an awning, they were all huddling with each other. The next morning my father knocked on the door and he said “ its time for you to come outside”. As I walked down the hallway towards the elevator I looked down at the people under awning. I decided to buy umbrellas for everyone so they cover up their benches and chairs. They all were all thanking me for the umbrellas. The next day my father told me to go to the garden. When I went there was a man standing on top of a barrel. He was accepting ideas for a way to get water to the garden. I went back to my apartment and constructed a mechanism that could bring water to the


garden. I went back down a day later and showed it to the man that was on the barrel. He said this idea could work only that a woman just bought funnels for watering. I asked everyone if they wanted a barbeque. Later on that day I went and bought a whole bunch of burgers. When I started the grill I put to much gas on and the grill exploded, my entire face got a new style, I had a burnt up nose and no eyebrows. Everyone that was in the garden came to visit me in the hospital they went to give me flowers I told them no. I said for them to plant the flowers in the garden. The next week I went to the garden to see if they planted the flowers. They weren’t there I asked Wendell where they planted them he said they gave me my own place in the garden. He also said they made a small but special doorway. It had my name printed on the top and when I was born on the bottom. My father put my mother’s favorite picture on the cold gold stands that my mom won in the 90’s. As winter came I thought of how I could make this garden special. It took me a couple of days to think of an idea. One night in December my father bought me a Christmas tree that he bought from a store that’s when it hit me. That night I would plant a Christmas tree in the garden. A few days later as I was looking down from my apartment I saw a woman look around she seemed really interested in the garden. When spring came around I saw a man rob a women. When I saw this it reminded me of what happened in Puerto Rico. I remember seeing the old women’s face When she lost everything. I tried to throw that thought out of my mind but I couldn’t. I kept coming like the days of the week it went away one time and then it came right back.


It was now late march I was in the cemetery to celebrate my mom’s death day. My father and me walked to the garden and I decided to make a special spot for her in my spot this give me a piece of my mother

Taquan

People bother me about my eye problem. Im from South Africa and moved to

Cleveland, a mess of a city.

How did I end up here. Nothing exciting happens here. I hate this place with a burning passion. Everyone hides in their own little cave. People out here don't really talk to each other unless their in a group called friends. People here are such weirdos they do nothing to help the community. I'm gonna change all of that. That's my plan. On my first day here I saw a vacant lot. It was just garbage nothing there. I was wondering what I could do. I came back at least a month later and I saw a little girl snooping around. The suspicous person I am I decided to mini stalk her. She went behind this refrigerator and dug something. I thought it could have been drugs or something else. I saw someone else peeking out a window trying to see what she was doing. This small little girl was causing big contrversy over a little digging hobby. Everyone and I mean everyone was looking at this little girl. She was so foused on this plant. This inspired me to grow plants. I knew my homies would mess me up for doin this callin me a natralist and other not good names.


The day I wanted to start I had a tough decision to make. Eithier do a drug deal for my gang or plant my garden. I knew that if I didn’t do the deal something bad will happen. MY stupid head decided to plant the garden and later I got shot from my gang members and got a 2 minute beatup to get kicked out of my gang. Pain is pain mind over physical. If you don’t think it hurts then it wont hurt. It still hurt. That 2 minutes felt like an infinity. I didn’t care I knew it would be over so I took it like a man. My gang threw so many blows to the head. I was wondering how many brain cells I have lost. Felt like I was going to completely collapse. I went home and fell on the couch. Woke up the next morning got a bag of ice and headed out. Decided to go to the garden. A lot of people were there. Planting a lot of different things I still didn’t know what I wanted to plant. I guess I was going to plant corn since my great ancestor planted it. A plus is that I really like corn so that would make it ten times better. The profit that I could make with this corn would be more profitable then being in the old gang. Maybe after I pay all my bills I could have a surplus of money finally. The first day I was planting I had about 20 seeds of corn. Knowing that only about 10 maybe less would grow that’s why I bought more then I suspected. I got up at 5:30 first person there. I expected to be the last man standing as well. The easy part was planting the seeds. After that went to Home Depot and bought fencing supply’s. This is Cleveland you have to expect something to happen nothing is safe here. I don’t trust anyone here. Even my old gang buddies scare me. I walk in a shadow of darkness everyday. Saw my former gang buddies go past in a old raggedy car and start laughing at me I thought it was embarrassing. One of them pointed there gun at the car as a joke but I


flipped. Next day I found my corn destroyed, I thought I had no emotions but I started to tear. This garden was powerful. They were nice enough to leave a note saying BLOODS. I knew it was them this whole time. I worked so hard on this. I decided to come back to the garden after a week. Still planted corn but didn’t put my name on the fence. There was this the guy who was homeless he said he’ll guard my corn for 2 meals a day. I decided the deal was fair. I felt safer now and I left to go home for the night. I realized I have not asked him for his name. Next day I asked what his name was and he said he does not have a name. He said he doesn’t go by a name I thought how unfortunate. I decided to call him Big boy. 5 weeks later my plants grew I sold them to the market made 200 dollars. I came to the garden the next day to plant more corn. I saw someone from my old gang planting there……


Martin By: Malik Williams wells Life is hard, but life on Gibb Street is harder. Here on Gibb Street you can barely get by. Plus life here is the epitome of hard. Someone always dieing, gang violence, drive bys it has been like this for as long as I can remember. It is hell minus the flames and gnashing of teeth. I have always dreamed of moving somewhere else. Somewhere that is like a paradise somewhere in fairytales. I haven’t dreamed of that in years I just put it out of my mind. I did this because I knew that I was not destined for happiness. So I just sit here and wait for death. I feel like I’m moving through life like a shadow noticed by no one noticing no one. Then one day it all changed. That was the day I saw her. That was the day I got out of my shadow slump I liked to call it. That day I knew what I had to do. I had to make that girl mine the girl with the black hair and brown eyes. My name is Martin her name is Tiffany and I think it was love at first sight. I’m 18 she is 19 we have never talked to each other before but soon we will. It is May 14, today is the day that me and Tiffany will talk for the first time. I have gotten all of the details to what will happen together. I will walk out to my garden where I plant different assortment of roses blue ones, red ones, yellow ones. Whatever color you can think of I have it. Sam was the one who got me started with them. He started me off with them he told me that roses is one surefire way into a girl’s heart. So for the past 2 months I have tending to my roses while I watched her tend to her grapes. We have never


talked just basically brushed by each other never saying anything. That is going to change today. I walked out to my roses and started to tend to them. I was patiently waiting for her to walk by so I could walk by. Then she walked by, there she was beautiful as ever. She had an olive skin tone, black hair and beautiful brown eyes. I walked over to her, “hello” I said “Hi” she said back looking up from her grapes. “My name is Martin” I said “Nice to meet you I’m Tiffany” she responded “Oh would you like one of my roses. I mean like I have more than is needed and I probably won’t be able to sell all of them. So I thought that someone would want one for free.” I said out of breath. “Yea I would do you want to pick out one for me or can I pick one out?” she asked “Umm you can pick one if you want” I said “Ok” she said carefully stepping out of her garden very careful not to step on her grapes. When she got out she walked over to my flowers. She picked up a red rose and smelled it. Then she just looked down. “Is there something wrong?” I asked hoping not to sound rude. “Nope nothing is wrong” she replied lifting up her head a smile playing across her face. “It just gives me happy memories and it gives me sad ones at the same time so. I was just thinking” she said “Oh about what?” I asked “Hmm I will tell you if you make me dinner” she said “Ok I will make you dinner.” I said sounding a little too eager “Tonight?” I asked “Yeah” she said “At your apartment.” She said “Ok what time?”I asked knowing that I could barely contain my excitement. I hope it was not clear how happy I really was. “Well we could go now.” She said smiling I have decided that I am in love with her smile. It is perfect it isn’t one of those fake smiles or half smile. It was a full smile that didn’t make her look like she was smiling to hard. Also to top it off she has a set of pearly white teeth behind her lips. Those rosy lips, when I look at them I


notice how much I love the color red. How much I loved seeing it on her. “Ok let’s go” I said starting to walk to my apartment. When we got there I turned the key and then opened the door. “So what do you want for dinner?” I asked knowing since I’m such a good cook whatever it was I would be able to cook it. “How about Italian” she said “I can do that” I replied walking into the kitchen “Well what kind of Italian food do you want?” I asked hoping I would have the ingredients for it. “How about pasta” She offered “Ok” I said good I had the stuff for that. I walked over to open the cabinets getting out the pasta and the tomato sauce and cheese. I spread out all the ingredients’, I worked my magic and put it in the oven then we waited 30 minutes for it to be done. She wouldn’t tell me what she thought about when she smelled the rose yet. She said she was waiting until the food was done and she was satisfied with it. Then I heard the ping of the timer. I walk over and open the oven and take it down. I take off the aluminum foil on top and see that is it done. I take out plates and put pasta on both then take them over to the table. We ate no one said anything until we were both done. “Mhmm that was good. You are a really good cook.” She said “Thanks well now you got to keep up your side of the bargain. What were you thinking when you smelled that rose?” I asked “Well I thought of my mom, she died because of gang violence. At her funeral her grave was covered was covered with red roses. Also everyday on my birthday my mom gave me a red rose instead of any other presents. I was content with this unlike most kids who would want toys and things. These were the things that I was thinking about.” She said “Oh I’m sorry for your loss.” I said “It’s ok I don’t think on it much” she said we sat in silence for what felt like years. It turns out it was only a few minutes. “Well it is getting late I better go” she said breaking the silence “I will walk you” I said “Yes you will” she replied as she opened the door and


started to walk out as I ran to get my jacket and run after her. We got to her apartment at around 9:50. “Well here it is” she said as we came up to a red door with the number 597. “Thank you for the great dinner” she said putting the keys in the door and turning towards me. She stared right into my eyes not looking away. I leaned into her, and then she did the same. Our lips brushed across each other. Then at that moment it seemed as if I died and another one me was born. This one never sad anymore always happy and it was all because of her. The rest of my days were good well they were until that day that ended it all. The day started like any did Tiffany came over I made her pancakes and we both walked over to our gardens. While we worked we would pass glances in each other’s direction. Then a group of men walked over to her garden. When I saw them I started to walk over and then I was grabbed from behind. The man talking to Tiffany took out a .49 magnum and picked up Tiffany by the arm and dragged her away. The men he came with left with him. Then it was just me and the two men behind me. I turned around and socked one in the face with my left fist. Then I turned and punched the other with the right. Then I tackled the one that was still standing and punched him in the face, over and over until he stopped groaning. Then I turned on the other and grabbed his throat. “Where did they take her?” I asked “I can’t tell you or I will be killed” he answered “If you don’t tell me I will kill you.” I said “Ok they are taking her to the abandoned where house.” He said “Take me there. Now” I ordered “Yes” he said I let go of him and we walked over to his car. He slipped into the driver seat me the passenger seat. He started driving, “Do you have any guns?” I asked “Yes in the back” he said I turned around in my seat and saw different assortment of guns. I saw .49 magnums, 9mm, p90’s AK’s. Also some others whose name I have no idea to. Some of which I knew where illegal to be in the use of


civilians. But I couldn’t think of trivial things like that right now I needed to save Tiffany or die trying. I picked up the magnum put it in my hip and put a p90 on my other hip. I also put on a bullet proof vest which was also back there. It was like god wanted me to do this. Like I prepared my whole life to do what I’m about to. “Were here” he said “When I get out drive away far away” I said Then I got out p90’s in hand. I walked towards the door of the warehouse I looked through the window. I saw Tiffany strapped to a chair. There was something I had never seen in her eyes before. It was fear, fear for herself then she looked to the window and saw me. Then I saw something new in her eyes fear for me. Not the relief I was looking for but fear. She then proceeded to shake her head and scream no, she was then slapped by the man trying to talk to her for interrupting. That was what did it, what sent me over I thought of Tiffany’s smile one more time and I kicked the door open. “Let her go!!” I screamed “Put the guns down or I will put a bullet through her head.” He said not expecting to have seen him here. “Yes I will she owes me money and this is why we have her here right now.” He replied “Ok I will put down the guns” I said I put the guns down. Then he turned the gun on me with surprising speed. Then with speed I had no idea I possessed I pulled the guns off my hip and shot him through the shoulder. He flew back then his men one by one came out of there trance. That it had seemed that they were in. they shot at me I dodged every shot. Not one landing a hit on me I shot one hit him right in the head he just fell back. Blood leaking out of his skull, then another I hit one after another I killed but it seemed everyone I killed had another two to replace him. I was losing momentum in my killing and losing accuracy. I was afraid at some moment I will be shot through the head and I will be dead. Then I looked at Tiffany the fear in her eyes had decreased but still there. Then I saw


blood leaking out of the front of her head. She had been shot. She had no hope of surviving it there was nothing to do but hold her one last time. I ran over to her bullets still being shot at me. “Tiffany I’m so sorry I could not save you. I’m so sorry I could have stopped this.”Then her hand went up to my face. “It isn’t your fault it is mine when I knew they were looking for me I knew I should have left here. But I got you mixed into this. I’m sorry Martin. I love you.” She stuttered out as her body went limp in my hands. “Well isn’t that sweet you guys will be dyeing together.” The gang boss said. Before I could turn around he shot me at point blank range in the back of the head. I was dead it was all over. It was my last thought. Well that isn’t true my last thought was I love you to Tiffany.


Giuseppe By: Matt Forellie They were all right. Cleveland is about the exact opposite of Italy. But I know how to adapt, and that’s why my family decided to send me to America first. They figure that I would be able to establish myself all alone in a country. It’s a totally new world. The people don’t know you and neither does the land. The worst part is you don’t know them either. My family is back home in Venice, Italy and they are very tentative about moving to America. It’s my job to give them feedback about the new world. I feel so out of place. Either way I think I might tell them that I love it here; I don’t want to be alone. I’m just not used to it with all of the family parties, hundreds of people around, voices from every angle. But here, dead silence. No one to comfort you but the voice coming out of the television. Sometimes it actually works, and you fall asleep right where you’re laying, like a log in a still pond. That was the case tonight. I woke up to the sounds of birds chirping. I had a terrible dream last night. My whole family died in a terrible earthquake. The whole earth was hit except for America. The weirdest part was this dream took place in July2, it was April weird part of that is that my family wanted me to tell them to come to America or not by July first. It was my fault. If I would’ve told them to come, they would’ve lived a happy life here in America. I was so relieved that I woke up and all of that was a dream. That made me change my


mind about America. I’m going to give it another chance. Even though no part of this place reminds me of home, I’m going to try to adapt for the best of my family. I woke up the next morning excited with my new view of America. As I walked out of the door I just had to stop and realize something. Where was I going? To a job? Nope. Had no such thing as a job. I walked out of my house in the morning like a lonely duckling that was left behind and had no better place to go than walk around clueless. I figured I might as well look for something to do with my time and to look for a job. So I did. As I was walking I couldn’t help to notice the most comforting scent to my huge Italian nose. The smell of a family garden. And just for that moment I forgot that I was desperate for a job. Just for that moment, I forgot I was in America. I was thinking of my family garden back home. Me and my family would make the most scrumptious lettuce, the most succulent eggplants, and most of all, the most delectable tomatoes in the town. I remember eating the grape tomatoes like an apple in my hand with my fatha. He would tell me stories of his family and the tradition of gardening in the family. Every year in my birthday me and my fatha would pick the best looking tomatoes and give them to ma and she would make the most delicious pizza you would ever want to lay your hands on. This spoiled any other type of pizza for me here in America. I feel disgraced just to lay my hands of the slob that they call pizza here. I guess that is what comes with having the best first. Me and my father would run inside with a patch of tomatoes from one particular area. One area of tomatoes, about 9 or 10 of them, always turned out the same because of the positioning of the sun all day. So my mother would take one of the tomatoes, take a monstrous bite out of it and tell us if it was good or not. Countless hours at a time my fatha and I would be trying to find the right patch. And every year for the perfect patch,


my mom would do her trademark smile that warmed everyone’s heart. This smile was like the second coming of Christ for pa and I. And just for that moment I forgot that I was desperate for a job. Just for that moment, I forgot I was in America. I ran over to the garden and waiting there was a warm smile from a man. “Hello, how are you?” said the man. “ Molto bene, y tu?” I said. I can’t believe those words came out of my mouth. I said very well and you in Italian. I spent countless hours trying to learn English fluently so that I wouldn’t embarrass myself in front of someone like this. I started getting sweaty. I didn’t know how the man would react, but I knew it wasn’t going to be very good. Instead of my thoughts the first words out of his mouth were, “Molto bene grazie.” He said very well thank you. I was shocked. Then I just took a deep breath and was so relived. “Bet you weren’t expecting that were you now?” he added. I just chuckled. The man explained to me that what he just did for me was his job. His profession. Making people feel comfortable where it may seem like a whole new world that you never experienced. He told me that he had to learn Italian before he went to Italy in July. I jumped out of my skin. “Italy? In July!” I exclaimed. “Yes Sir,” he said. “I am going to Venice on plane to explore the unknown world to me right now that is Italy. With all of that land and opportunity out there, there is no point to being blind to everywhere outside your own home.” “Venice? That’s perfect! Hey do you think that you can hook me up with a spot in this garden here?” “Of course, that’s my job remember?” “Yeah.” Right then and there I knew exactly what I had to do.


The next day I go some tools from the store and got to work. I had 75 days exactly to plant these grape tomatoes. Just enough time for them to ripen. I forgot about my job and knew that what was in my mind was more important. All of those days passed and it was finally the last day. I swore to myself that I would sit aside the tomatoes on the last day and keep an eye on them. I came to far at this point to let someone steal it all away from me. I had time then to reflect of the past 74 days, talking to the plants, watching them grow, watering them, and it was all over. Sam’s flight was in 5 hours and those tomatoes were going on board with him. All of the sudden it started getting late and I started getting tired. Then without warning, an African man plucked five of my tomatoes and started to run down the street. I jumped up from the ground and chased after him. Never had I ran that fast and with such determination in my life. I caught him in an alley and I dove and grabbed his feet and he fell over. I turned him on his back and pinned him to the ground and with my fist back and ready to show this guy a lesson I said, “Don’t you ever try to steal another man’s food ever again. For all you know it could mean life or death to that man!” He just nodded and trembled in fear and looked so innocent I took a step back and caught myself. “I’m sorry.” I helped the man up. Just by the look in his eye I knew it was about love. I gathered my tomatoes and on the walk home he told me about a girl name Lateesha. He said his name was Curtis. He mentioned that those tomatoes would get her back together with him. When we got back to the garden I gave Curtis one tomato and a pack of seeds. “Here try it.” He did. He just glanced up at me and gave me that look that I received so many times. The look of astonishment. I just smiled gave him the pack of seeds, gathered my tomatoes and walked away. In the street waiting with a cab was no other than Sam going to the airport.


I gave him my tomatoes and said farewell. After the long journey he gave the tomatoes to my family and explained to them about everything I did to make them perfect and how I always talked about them. He explained everything about America and gave them the basket of tomatoes god and I had made. My mother grasped one in her hands and took a bite. Sam told me over the phone that she gave him a look that seemed like the life had been restored to her body. Once everybody ate all of the tomatoes there was a note at the bottom of the basket. It read, “In atessa dell’America.” America’s waiting.

Michael Rebio By Matt Benincasa My life is like a broken record, there is nothing new. I am a 20 year old boy living in Italy with no hopes, no dreams, but the one thing that I do have is a dream a dream to go to America. There have been many job opportunities in Cleveland. On Sunday, after my mama had made her home made pasta and meatballs, I sat the whole family down to


tell then about where I was going. My mama and papa said if this were a dream that you are going to peruse we would give u the money. Today was the day, the day I finally go to America. I would be the first one on the plane. It would be a five and a half hour flight I would be awake for every single one of them. When I got on he plane there was an old American woman who was sitting next to me. I said hello, she said hello. The whole ride to America we talked. When I got off the plane I picked up a news paper from the ground and looked for the job section. There was a job for a landscaper. In Italy I had cut my own lawn. When I went to meet the boss, he was strong buddle man. When we met he asked me a lot of personal questions. I was in desperate need for a so I answered the with a smile, even though I didn’t want to. At the end of the interview he said, there is one last thing. I said yes like I had previously done. He said ‘we only have jobs on Gibb Street. I said that I was ok with it not knowing why he had told me. Twenty minutes later he called back to his office, I got the job. It was my first day on the job and I was more nervous than a cow in a slaughterhouse. When I was riding in the car I saw a vacant lot with people walking into it. After my first day on the job I needed a place to stay. I went back to the place that got me this far, the newspaper. There was an add for an apartment on Gibb street, “perfect!’ That night I went to the apartment, the rent was cheaper than my entire house rent in Italy, I took it. My roommate was, his name was Ross. Ross had a brother Andrew, Andrew had a cool nick name, it was Kuff. That night I spent all my time unpacking. This is going to be the beginning of a great life.


The next day I left me apartment early, because that garden was on my mind ever since I had walked by. When walked out of my apartment, a very strong man was walking by. I said hello there, he said hello back. I walked into the garden but the man was still fallowing me. When I walked in he said hello can I help you. I said yes who owns this garden, he said no one this is a public garden. For the next hour we talked about me and how if I was fitted for the garden, and you know what, I was! The mans name was Curtis, he told me to come to the garden after work. That day all I thought about was the garden. After work I did like Curtis said and came to the garden. When I saw him again at the garden there was alot of people, for a while we all just talked. They were all very nice people who were interested in plants and flowers. After about an hour of talking, they all got to know me and I got to know them. They said all you need do is find a spot in the lot and get seeds to plant. That night I ran home to tell Ross and Kuff. They said I am happy for you. The next day at work I had to o some planting outside the garden at Mr. Wangs shop. Mr Wang was an old man who had lived on Gibb Street for 35 years. The week before I came here there was a party for him. Mr. Wang came out every hour to bring us food and refreshments. That day I need a partner to help me carry a tree. The man who helped me was Frank. Frank was an immigrant also, he was from Germany. After we finished we went to a local bar and talked for an hour. We talked about the garden and how he had a cousin who owns a flower store and he could get me some seeds for my garden.


The next day at work I met with Frank, early before work so I could plant the seeds and have time after work to water them. The day flew like a fighter plane in the sky. All my luck has come to me like a leprecon with its pot of gold; this is only the beginning of my life.


Juanita By Michelle Carfagno No one talks to me. No one. They walk by me like I don't exist. They stare. I stare back. I really no see why they don't like me. A 10-year old girl like me should not be treated like this. Honestly, they should be worshipping me! I am Juana. People that actually talk to me call me Juanita. I guess people are scared by my attitude. They think I “yell at people a lot”. I mean I have to. When people are annoying, what else am I supposed to do? They shouldn’t be getting all up in my face about it. I came to this country 4 years ago from Argentina. I learned English fine. Not my parents. They are still speaking Spanish. It's sad, though, because that is the only reason they came here to Cleveland. They wanted adventure and to learn more about the US. That never happened, and I don't really think it ever will. Whatever. I'm perfectly fine with Cleveland. But I really miss Argentina. It was always warm, and I had a lot of friends. Here, it's just...different. Although it is usually quiet, it's interesting how people just stay in their house all day. I'm outside 24/7. Of course, no one ever joins me. But, no matter what I do, I never go down Gibb Street. It scares me. Nothing happens, so I'm always afraid someone will pop right out at me. The next day I was walking down Watson Avenue when I met a girl. Her name was Kim. She seemed nice, but of course all the people that actually try to talk to me are nice...at first. She told me about some garden down on Gibb Street in a vacant lot. I said I


would check it out, but I obviously didn't believe her. It's probably some prank to get rid of me. I'll still check it out. I'm actually kind of curious. I went down Gibb Street after I did my chores. I felt something coming closer, and closer. I was thinking that something was about to come up onto me. All of a sudden, I hear something behind me. I turn around and-“HI JUANITA!” It was only Kim. “Kim,” I said, “Why’d you try to scare me!!!? Gosh.” “Sorry,” she said, “I was only being friendly. So, did you check out the garden yet?” “Um, no?” I said. I really don’t get what her problem is. How about she minds her own business? Honestly. ���Oh, well you should check it out,” she said. I went on my merry way, without her following me. I really did not want her following me. I didn’t see any garden around. “Wow,” I thought, “Big surprise. She tricked me.” But then, just as I turned back around, I saw something. It was….a tomato. Not just one tomato, though. Like twelve tomatoes. And that wasn’t the end of it. There wee eggplants, and carrots, and lettuce, too! We never had anything like this back in Argentina!! I went into the vacant lot. People were talking about watering, planting, and all sorts of stuff. I wanted to plant stuff just like them. “How am I going to do this?” I thought. Then, I realized that I needed help. I went up to an old woman. She was showing a man what she was growing. I went up to her and tapped on her shoulder. “Excuse me,” I said to the women, “I want to start my own garden, but I need some help. Help me.” “Hold on one second.” the woman replied.


“Excuse me?” I said in astonishment. “I wait for no one. I need help now.” She replied, “Patience is a virtue. Now run along and come back when you know how to act like a lady.” I left the lot after that. I didn’t feel like being told off by another person. I really don’t get what message that lady was trying to send to me. Patience is a virtue? Is that kind of some old lady term? Whatever. That night when I went to bed, I still couldn’t stop thinking about what she said. Then, it hit me. Every time I didn’t get what I wanted, I yelled at people. Then they were either mean to me or they would turn their backs to me. It all makes sense now. If I’m nice to people, they will be nice back. They need more respect I thought to myself, “Maybe it’s true. I’ll try it at the garden tomorrow. Hopefully it works.” The next day I went to the garden, same as the day before. Except, it was much more different. I had a brand new attitude today. I had a smile on my face, a shovel, and some pepper seeds. Peppers were my favorite vegetable back in Argentina. I got to the vacant lot. I saw the same lady from the day before. I went up to her. “Um, hi again,” I said shyly. ‘Look I’m sorry for being rude yesterday. Can you give me another chance by helping me with my pepper garden?” “I’m glad you have understood my words of wisdom to you.” she said. “I am Ana. And yes, I will gladly help you.” “Thank you.” I replied. “It means a lot to me.” Ana helped me a lot. She showed me how to water the plants with the right amount of water. She also showed me how far apart to plant my seeds. I learned so much. I can’t wait to see them grow.


Every day I kept coming to the garden to check on them. They were progressing. I also helped other people with their gardens while I was there. I had to be patient, for that was the key to gardening. “They will grow soon,” I thought to myself. After two weeks, the peppers were finally done! I picked them and made a vegetable soup with some vegetables with my mom, including my peppers. It was so good. I couldn’t wait to grow some more plants in the garden. I went back to the garden the next morning to grow some new peppers. I saw Kim. Kim seemed to be annoyed at me. I went up to her. “Hi Kim,” I said. “Look, I am really sorry for being rude to you. Do you think we can still be friends?” She replied, “Of course, Juanita. I’ll admit, you have changed quite a bit. In a good way.” “Well, I guess the garden has transformed me,” I said, “and for that I say thank you garden. Thank you very much.”


Winny By : Meagan Perdue

I live out on the farm with my folks. I got 1 sister. Her name’s Wittney. She brags bout, well everything I guess. It gets lonely on the farm. Wittney is always out with her friends, I I gots is Mr. Oinkers and Spot. Mr. oinkers is my pig and Spot is my cow. They the only 2 I gots, besides my folks. Neighbors in my neighborhood don’t like to talk much. None my age anyway. My sister has friends from our old house in Texas. My friends all moved on, even though they’re only like 19. So am I, but if I got no friends, I might as well be a nobody, trapped in a cage with no life. I’m stuck on this farm. Maybe I should think about moving away, somewhere with lots of people. It’s been a tough 6 months. We haven’t been selling as much crops as we normally do. I told my folks about my idea of moving away. They just laughed at the idea. They think I don’t got what it takes to live on my own. But I’m willing to gamble with it. Maybe I’ll get set up tonight and then leave the next. I won’t tell’em. I don’t think they would care. If they do, I might be surprised. I heard about this place in Cleveland. Where for the most part, everyone is really nice. There’s this thing they said is bringing everyone together, but I don’t know what it is. And I wanna know. And I wanna know now.


I packed my stuff and I’m ready to go but my parents don’t know what’s going on, they don’t know that I’m packed and ready. Ready for what? I can’t believe I’m doing this. But it’s something I have to do. For the sake of . . . well, me. I can’t keep living like this wit no life, no friends. Time to set out for Cleveland, Ohio ! Gibb Street here I come ! I’m on the way there, in the back of this rusty old truck. I’m getting calls like there’s no tomorrow. My parents, neighbors, people I don’t even know calling me. Guess my parents got the word out fast that I was gone, I only left 2 hours ago. Well, I should be there soon. Whatever, Ok, I’m here and I see this place down the road, not much people, but a lot of green. I’m going to run over there, see what’s goin on. As I’m running down the road people are looking t me like I’m some kind of freak of nature. I’m talking to myself, “Oh!, I know why I’m being looked at like some kind of freak, I’m a mess. Dirt from the back of the truck.” This is gonna give me a bad reputation and I just got here ! Well, you gotta start somewhere. I’ll just clean up later, if I find a place to crash. Wow ! This garden is amazing. This one man is looking at me, and he’s pointing to this patch of tomatoes. Then he looked up at the building across the street, at this one window. He started telling me about how he used to be a self centered jerk who cared about nobody but himself, but he’s planting these tomatoes for this girl he’s trying to win back, but not with his muscles, but with his heart. And I’m thinking to myself, wow, just this small patch of land changed him in so many ways? I better get a crack at this whole garden thing.


Later that day, still as bright as day, and this man offered me some seeds to plant in the garden with still plenty of room left. I found a special spot with lots of space from other people’s gardens. I chose to plant some tomatoes, because of this man’s story and how he inspired me. I finally made a friend! But not enough to satisfy me. I still have no life. It’s not like we are going to hang out everyday or anything. Besides, he looks like he’s much older than me. It’s been a week and I have great news ! I got a sprout of tomatoes. The people around me are really nice. I’ve made a few friends. They’ve told me their stories about how this garden helped them when they were down. How it picked them up. And now I think I ‘m going to have one of my own to tell people. I think I’m going to go call my parent and convince them to come out here and buy a place to stay. Get a small garden of their own. I called my parent a few days ago and they said they’re gonna sell the farm and start packing. They knew how down I was on the farm. They were glad to hear from me. I told them my story and they were really impressed. Well they’re coming out, and I’m staying !


My vignette

I’ve always’s thought that it would be hard to live here in Cleveland, but I thought wrong. My name is Caitlin, I am 13 years old. I have dirty blond hair, and blue eyes. You are probably wondering why I’m in Cleveland. Well I’m in Cleveland because I immigrated from Mexico. My parents bought me here seeking a better future for our growing family. I now see this place as my home and I have no intentions of returning home to live in Mexico. There are so many nice people and a great community garden! Everyday I go to the garden and help out the others that are there. It is a fun thing to do during the summer, going out to the garden with your friends and planting in the nice weather. I’m glad I moved, at first I was saying to myself what’s going to happen to me? Am I ever going to me? Am I ever going to be happy again? But now I understand and I’m glad I moved. I think that the best part about living here is the garden. I love being involved and so do many other people. We go out everyday and plant new things if something happens to our crops we get so over protective , we work so hard and work together on our projects. So if anything happens it disappoints us. We warned people that this is our property and if anyone touched it they would pay the consequences. One morning I went down to check on my eggplant and it was all smushed and pulled out of the ground! I cried. I quickly called my friends and they came running in there pajamas and slippers. There mouths dropped open. Our whole garden was ruined. What kind of cruel person would do this to us? That day we spent the time fixing it up. we snuck out agter our parents tucked us in and walked quietly down to the vacant lot to see if anyone was there. We fell asleep just sitting on the sidewalk waiting when we heard a crunch like someone stepping on weeds.


We saw a man and we ran up to him and asked him what kind of person are you? going around stomping on peoples work? We were not happy at all but we realized that the boy was a bully from our school! We got scared at the moment. He came up to us and lifted my friend from her shirt and lifted her off the ground. I got terrified and ran to my mom as fast as I could. But when we came back he left we called the police and the government to get a lock on the gate. We fixed it up and it was even better then before. We had a good time working on it. We waren’t as upset anymore because we have such a great time putting it together. That weekend we had a celebration, celebrating the garden. We had a great time. Im glad that I moved here. Rico By: Ryan Fishbein

The stab wounds still no healed. Me family is gone. I move to Chicago from me home town Brazil. I very wealthy for Brazil man. Bodyguard Manuel gone to. I lonely, in this town I can buy myself friends. This place is almost dangerous as Brazil, not scary though. My home town there no news, because of killings all day. Me wounds are not treated, infected, mean man on streets harassed me for money. I was stabbed 7 times, 2 chest, 3 arm, and 2 legs. No hospital for me. Only person that helped was a druggy on street. This is why scars are not healed. I went home after being asleep for so long.


I home with family when BOOM!! The kitchen exploded. I ran as quickly as possible, but family could not. I survived by running out the back door. The man with black mask was there. I run as fast as can, he catch up. This time police catch him before he hurt me. I had to go place safe, where not to wealthy. I come to Chicago. Not bad as Brazil, but still ugly. All my Brazil money makes me rich in this town. I scarred for life from the guy in the black mask. I almost meet no one. I go out to get few things like food, even exercise on street a bunch. People here no friendly. People at my company here still no treat me with respect. I very lonely in a town where people no like me. The only thing that keeps me happy here is the thought of home and family planting flowers. For a wealthy man my luck is no very good. Sometimes my apartment gets a toxic gas while out, so I sleep with my only friend in this town, Jim, the homeless man next to my apartment. We respect each other, sometimes I give him money to get some clothes. He returns me with inspiration from his 80 years of life. He provides me with things never thought to be heard of but, thought about true. I listen to all he say, try it sometimes, it very nice to do. One day his greatest new inspirations was told to me, “All petals are needed to make a beautiful flower, that flower must be made by someone. Who must make that flower?� I dreamed that night, a little girl planted a seed and then in a course of minuets that seed turned into a giant plant. That dream and quote made me want to go try to meet friends. Turned out no good. I ended up following this Korean girl


who almost seemed scared to leave her house, so I thought suspicious. I follow to places no been before. I turn left out alley and I fell to knees. In front of me everyone I seen in this town was crowded together. Very magnificent. Dream come true. I run back to Tim, we go to store and buy cucumber, my mom liked very much but is unable to plant now. I buy Tim carrots, he says its his favorite food. We go back to lot were Korean girl went. We very shy at first, we set up a place for us two to share. We both plant seeds, we come back every day. Each day we meet at least two new people. The first day we meet the Korean woman, whose name was Sae Young, and we meet a very muscular guy named Curtis with his girlfriend Lateesha. Curtis was telling us how he plant tomatoes to impress her, now they engaged and soon to be married. I was inspired from that story. I decide to help people so I give advise with my background of Brazil farming. We make good profit from our crops. I even make enough to buy Tim room in apartment. We live life now almost like normal people in this town. We go to place without being scared, and people actually greeting us nicely. I live the same life for 2 years, one day Tim die. Police come, take Tim’s body and throw it in a garbage heap. He had no family to claim him so they no bury him. I visit the dump one day, he was buried near a fridge. Ironically right smack on top of his body was a rose. He inspired my life, so I got everybody in our neighborhood to take one of their best crops and place it on Tim’s body. We then had idea to bury Tim in the lot. Now the lot has not only our crops, but memory from all of us. I change a life. I took control and now I no hated by everyone, but


I loved and thanked. I now get good job again and make good profit. I change myself and neighborhood very much.

Ross Reiffman P. # 6

English 5-3-10

I have always been considered as “unlucky.” Jinks. A flaw. The worst always fell upon my burden. I am the middle child of 2 other sisters; a frantic 16 year old, and a timid 9 year old. I am “the brains” of the family, as said my parents, though being accused of something I didn’t do is a daily routine. School was slow, I was eager to leave. My friend Andrew had come home with me from school, and we began to walk down the dirty streets of Cleveland.

As we were walking, we had heard a loud cheering. It was a group of people all huddled around a wooden crate. We squeezed into the huddle. “My way will easily carry water to the garden, so that we don’t have to carry it every day by hand!” the crowd


applauded the young girls idea. Then a boy stepped up. A hush went over the crowd. He spoke of his idea. When he was finished, no one said a word. All of a sudden, one single person began to slowly clap. Then three other joined in. Then more. Suddenly the whole crowd was roaring with excitement. His idea was to put sprinklers connected to the Cleveland water supply on each side of the garden. Then, the water would water the plants in the garden effortlessly.

Andrew and I had gone to the nursery to buy some plants, for we wanted to get involved in the garden as well. We walked into the shop and turned our attention to a worker at the shop. “How can I help you?” she said, as we analyzed the nursery. We ignored her plea and walked toward the rack with sunflower seeds. “These would grow pretty big” I exclaimed. We agreed to take the pack of seeds, as we took a cab back to our apartment.

The next day, Andrew and I had met up by Cleveland square. We proceeded to the garden with our new sunflower seeds. When we arrived to the garden, there was a big huge man sleeping where we were going to put our seeds. I didn’t want to disturb him…he looked dangerous. I had looked around for another plot, and when I spotted a big plot, my heart jumped. We trotted over to the plot, and Andrew had brought a white picket fence, to steak our claim of land.

School the next day went by quick. Andrew, again, came home with me as we headed towards the garden with our plot of land in sight. As we peered into our section,


our dirt had been thrown up and around, and our seeds were nowhere in sight. Just my luck. “Ha-ha.” Andrew obnoxiously laughed at the sight of our land. It was almost funny what had happened. Onlookers sighed at the fact our beautiful almost-flowers had been torn out of the ground. A line of footsteps had been printed into the dirt, in a pattern almost like a running motion. The next mere moments we had been watching what looked like a fugitive in a bright orange jump suit escape the pursuit of a police car, as he ran down an alley. The officer had approached Andrew and I.

“Boys,” the officer had bellowed. He was a huge man, looked about 6-5 and around 240 pounds. It was just a guess. “Were you able to identify that man running over here?” “No, sir,” Andrew had said, knees trembling, voice shaking. “I see his prints over here in this patch of dirt,” said the officer, “those look like the shoes we give all our prisoners. He seems to have ran through your land.” We had been almost relieved at the fact we knew what had happened. “Alright, that’ll be all. Thanks.” He stepped away, & sped off into the city in his patrol car.

The next day, Andrew and I had gone to the nursery & picked up some more seeds. Right when we arrived at the plot we were going to plant, a Vietnamese girl had been there, planting lima beans.


Sam By: Sabrina Dux

Being the oldest of a family of 3 kids and no mom isn’t the best thing. When I was only 7 my mom died of cancer and me and my siblings needed to move in with our dad. Ever since that happened my dad started to abuse me and my little brother and sister. When he goes to work everyday he doesn’t even bother to tell us when he will be home. I try to help my brother and sister by getting them lunch for school and making there breakfast in the morning. My dad doesn’t even bother getting up in the morning to help us get ready cause he thinks were old enough to do things on our own. I am glad he doesn’t get up cause whenever we do something wrong he just slaps us or pulls our hair and makes us cry. At night before we go to be I tuck in my siblings and sing them the lullaby my momma use to sing to us “roses are red violets are blue I love you”. The next morning when I woke up my dad yanked my hair and told me to run down to the general store and get some vegetables for us. “BE BACK IN 30 MINUTES!” he screamed. So as I was walking down claveland street, and as I walked down the street I saw a group of people in this big open field. I wondered as I passed. Finally I got to the store and as I walking Tyler the own yelled “hey Sam how are you today?” “good I am here to get the usual vegetables, but I have a question, what are all those people doing down the street in that open yard?” “oh that is a garden that people


started down the street you can go there a plant a flower for something you miss, wish, or love.” After that I left the store I walked by that open felid again and I wanted to walk over to see what they were doing. But instead I passed by and stared. Once I got home I walked in and through the veggtable in the kitten and ran up to my room. I looked out the window and all I saw was more and more people walking in and planting. I wanted to go my self but I wasn’t sure what to say or do so I decided to walk over and take a look. When I got there a man walked up and said “hello there how are you today would you like to plant a flower or anything” I looked at the man wondering if he was still talking to me. “sure were should I plant them?” the man directed me over to the plantes. I walked over and grabbed a violet and a rose because it mad me think of my mom because of the lullaby she would sing to me and my brother and sister before we went to be “roses are red violets are blue I love you” i walked over to a the corner far away from everyone else. When I got over I dug a hole looking at the nice rich soil. I placed them in gently and said “roses are red violets are blue I love you” I wanted to cry but I held it in because I didn’t want people to look at me like I was hurt or something. I walked in the door quietly because I didn’t want my dad to here and wonder what or were I was. I ran up to my room and took out the locket my mom gave me before she left. A tear ran down my eye as I looked at the picture of her inside it. “SAM GET DOWN HERE NOW!” I herd my dad scream in the back round. “ok” I yelled back. I ran down stares and said “yes dad” he looked at me with an evil eye and said “were having dinner now you can eat now or wait till tomorrow for breakfast” “I will eat” I sat down at the table next to my brother I ate fast and went to bed.


The next morning I woke up and had breakfast I was thinking of going back to the garden and planting more cause it makes me feel better. When I went that day I asked my brother and sister if they wanted to come so they came with me. So as we all walked down and stared to plant I explaned to them what to do. Once we got there we all planted roses and violets and sang the song together “roses are red violets are blue I love you” This started to continue for weeks and we eventually went everyday after school. And sang the song “roses are red violets are blue I love you.” Katarina I’m not very foreign to this country anymore. I was only 5 years old when I moved to America with my mother. It's my 30th birthday today and I've been out of my mother's house for 22 years. I've gotten myself an apartment in Cleveland, Ohio. My mother still lives in New York, though. She has a large condominium in a busy city. She's busy with work and couldn't come. She gets called into work a lot on weekends. I've got the rest of the family over. They have very strong Hungarian accents, but they don't sound odd even though mine has faded away. After being here for so many years you get used to everybody speaking and looking differently. I just have a bit of trouble responding to them in Hungarian because when you don't use it, the language fades. We go outside and walk around the block, but we stay outside because the weather is beautiful. I suggest going to Gibb Street. I've seen a garden there before; it was very pretty and fun to watch. We walk a few blocks to the garden. This is like the treasure


chest of this old, dirty neighborhood. Nobody commits crime here and there's not one person who doesn't have a smile on their face. People have finally agreed to disagree and they are working together. Nobody tries to avoid anybody anymore. It makes me wonder how this all got started. This wasn't always so beautiful. Back maybe two weeks ago this was a giant lot of trash; trash that stunk like the spray of a skunk. Everybody threw their garbage here and not one person bothered to pick it up. The garbage trucks never came to this neighborhood. I guess somebody got tired of it and thank god he or she did. The trash was taken out and no one puts their trash there anymore. Now that the smell is gone you can walk by without having to cover your nose. In fact, you wouldn't want to cover your nose. You would want to smell the aromas of all the different plants. My family seems to love it here and stops on the sidewalk. My extremely hyper nephew calms down and just plops onto the ground. He is hypnotized by the gardeners. He scrutinizes every plot and the gardener tending to it. His eye stops and he gets up. He walks toward the large woman planting some sort of leafy green. He asks what it is gesturing toward the dirt. She looks down at it and wrinkles her brow. Finally she responds Swiss chard. He looks into the far distance for a second and snaps back and thanks her. I stop staring suddenly realize that everyone else has gone their own way and found something to look at in the garden. After we come home the family still doesn't look satisfied. They've always wanted me to come back home to Hungary. Of course they do, it's their home. I can't blame them, but they need to understand that I'm happy here. I mean it's not that I don't like Hungary; it's quite beautiful especially in Budapest where most of my family lives. It's just that I've


gotten bored there. Here there is always something new, like the garden. Life is never just a routine; it's an adventure- an adventure that I am not willing to give up. I can't stand them nagging at me to come home, so I yell. I know I shouldn’t have, but I can't help myself anymore. This is my home! I wish they weren't so thick-skulled. I thought bringing them to the garden would give them a different perspective. They look at me as if waiting for something of substance to come out of my mouth. I don’t know how to explain it anymore. This happens every single time I see them! They don’t learn. They don’t even listen to what I have to say. If my family won’t hear me out then I’ll just have to show them why I love it here. I’ll have to do it fast, before they head back home. I only have a week to make my actions clear to them. For now I’ll try to survive the rest of the day. I wake up at dawn and run to the market. I buy a few gardening tools and a packet of seeds that take the least time to grow. They are called cress seeds. I walk to Gibb Street and see people who woke up before me are already planting! I’m shocked, these people are so committed. I hear two people talking about how gardening is like therapy to them. I try to go slowly and experience the same therapeutic feeling. I start to get into the rhythm and see the beauty after a couple of days of tending to these seeds. My family goes to see the garden everyday they have time. They finally notice that I have been coming here in the mornings and insist on helping. They each come a different morning and share their stories at breakfast when they come back. I don’t have a doubt in the world about my plan. They seem as though they have realized how united this garden has made the community. I think maybe my concept has sunk into their minds.


One morning I dare to bring up the topic of me staying here, in America. I’m the slightest bit nervous. If we don’t see eye to eye I may just go bonkers! They look at me for a second a there is an awkward silence. Then my aunt speaks up and breaks the silence. She asks why exactly. I explain my concept of the adventure and surprises, but it’s not until I relate it to the garden that I see some understanding in their eyes. I see a few nodding heads around the table. When I am done speaking they all look as if it has finally hit them. Simon O’Neil

I used to be respected. People used to pay me respect because of my clothes. It was mystifying. As a priest I was used to people placing trust in me because of my title. All my family is dead, everyone I loved is dead. My fellow priests told me that the only love I needed was love in God. I never brought it. I denounced the faith and moved away from Cincinnati to Cleveland. I’ll die a sad, old man. And I’m fine with that. I glanced into my flask. Empty. Damned, I thought to myself on my way to the liquor store. On my way their I bumped into a woman who used to attend my Masses as a child, I walked by, praying to the ‘Oh, so questionably one’ she didn’t recognize me. No such luck. “Father O’Neil!” She squealed, I did my best not to cringe at her voice. Or overly-made up appearance. “Yes.” I knew that me not meeting her with the likewise enthusiasm would kill her. “How are you?! Remember me? I went to your sermons every Sunday with my mom and dad!” “Don’t recall.” I said, pushing her to the side and continuing on my way. She looked visibly hurt, I grinned and continued.


After refilling my booze I sat on the ground next to the bar and began to slowly get happy with my Bloody Mary, non-virgin. That made me laugh, I lay there getting more and more droopy-eyed as the hours grew and the liquor decreased. When I awoke my arm was sliced open, five inches, maybe and my wallet was gone. I looked at the gash and grew nervous. I wasn’t by ‘Pat’s Liquor’ anymore, it was twilight, or maybe dawn, and I stood up and started walking toward the street at the end of the block. I went two steps, then I felt the Sun, it pushed into my eyes and burnt them, my stomach evacuated its contents and I collapsed. I realized I was on, on something. I didn’t even know. I heard the cement of the sidewalk, I didn’t want to. I threw up again and then blacked out. I awoke it was bright. Pain. Burning into my retinas. Fire in my eyes. Burning. I stood up wobbled around and sat down. Determined, I stood and walked down a street, the signs were written in undeterminable ink strokes. People looked, they spoke, “Can I help you?”, ‘You can’t.’ I may have said. Maybe I thought it. I sat down somewhere new and blacked out again. This time when I awoke I was surrounded by green, my headache had subsided and I found myself thrust in a world of purples, greens and yellow. They were plants and vegetables. I was surrounded by a black couple, did I fall in their yard? Where am I that people actually having yards that aren’t shrouded in stolen Toyotas lacking a stereo? I glanced, I saw a brown man and an elderly white couple, and a black man in a wheel chair. Looking beyond them I saw brown buildings and busy cars. I was in a garden. I noted a sign ‘Gibb’. I stood, ignoring such formalities as, “Are you okay?’, “Do you need some water?” and so on. I saw a beautiful garden with beautiful diverse people. They


weren’t fighting, killing or yelling. They were united. It was miraculous. I know what the outside world saw, plants maybe vegetables. But me. In this garden, I saw faith. Lauren By: Sam McCoy

When I left my home I felt like I would never be happy again. I left my family, friends and home everything that made me happy when I was ten. My family decided to move because there were better opportunities for me to succeed in my education or something like that. I've lived in this apartment on Gib Street in Cleveland since i was ten. My family moved out and then suddenly I was alone in this apartment that was very small but felt like a castle when i was alone in it. I've been working since the day I was out of high school. I didn't go to college. My father didn't think it was necessary which I thought was weird because my father told me the reason we moved to the United States was for my education. I always thought there was another reason we moved here but i never had the courage to ask him. One day I walked down Gib Street to work like I do everyday and spotted a garden which was never there before. I didn't think anything of it and kept walking. I went to the local market where i work as a cashier and started my day. A normal day went by. I locked up the market and started walking home. I spotted the garden again. i decided to walk towards it and as I got closer i didn't even think about what was around


me all I was think about was this very colorful garden. I never saw this garden before which i thought was odd. Then i realized the garden was where a vacant lot used to be. All of the colors of the vegetables made me think of my home in Mexico. I remember before I left I had planted tomatoes but i couldn't watch them grow or eat them because i was leaving that week for Cleveland. I remember being so upset I wanted to become a farmer and plant and sell my crops but I never had that chance. I walked up to the garden took one look at it and I blocked out the sounds of the cars and people and anything that would distract me because I was in Mexico in my mind. In my mind i was home. I sat down absorbing all of the colors and crops and how the people were uniting together because of this garden. I went home. Went to sleep. Woke up. Went to work. Locked up the market. Bought tomatoes seeds. Went back to the garden. I found my own corner of land next to someones eggplant and started to plant my tomatoes. when i finished I was proud to be apart of the garden. Everyday I came to watch them grow and as the tomatoes grew I felt like I belonged in the United States in Cleveland on Gib Street. Yoji Being a rock star is hard. That was 4 years ago in Japan. My brother and my band were very successful in Japan. Then, I grew tired of riffing with my guitar. I took a little break. It’s ironic. I hung out in Korea for a little bit, sobered up then I was ready to come back to the band. Then, it sort of fell apart. I pleaded with my record company to bring us back. No luck. Then, a couple of days later, I got a call from Zomba records. Some American record company. They said a band that was trying to get on their feet needed a guitarist. I don’t know what I was thinking. I missed my guitar. I said yes. I couldn’t do it. I was an addict. I couldn’t go outside with it. I had been without for 40 minutes. That’s enough time. Right? I snuck into the bathroom. Then a band member knocked on the door. “Yoji? Got any?” he joked. Was he talking about my cigarettes? I quickly put it in my back pocket and jumped out of the bathroom. I quickly said no and ran to the front of the bus. It's hard being a severe nicotine addict! The bus sputtered, then stopped. It was smack in the middle of a town. A road. I looked at the bus driver, then to the street. Why did we stop? Then Jacob, the bassist told


me that the engine overheated. The engine was smoking. Too much pressure. I had to smoke. I walked to the front of the bus and put on my shades. Had to make a good impression. I stepped out of the bus. It was always a difficult step from the bus to the ground. My band members followed me as I stepped out as they blindly stared into their phones. They were obviously not skilled in the art of stepping, so they fell. It was sunny. Too sunny. I wobbled down the stairs of my bus onto the poorly paved road. I hadn’t taken 20 steps when an old white guy introduced me to the town. Said he was Sam. I said Hi, and then proceeded to walk past him, looking for the nearest mechanic shop. None to be seen. This town was as broken down as I am when I smoke. He stepped to me again. Started telling me about some stupid community garden. You can imagine. Me. Yoji Marumika, the famous Japanese rock star being told about a garden that was of little to no importance to me. I hadn't had a cigarette in at least an hour. I snuck behind a building and took out my lighter. If you're wondering why I have to make it such a secret, well here is why. I started smoking when I was 16. I found a pack of my Dad's and took it. 4 years later. This is my cocaine. I get jittery when I don't have it. I wish I hadn't done it. I wish I never found them. I think about that until the flame is up to the butt. I've already been to the hospital once because of smoking. I stepped out from behind the building to the old guy again. I, more relieved fiddled with my fingers while I let his dulcet voice flow through one ear and out another. I heard it. Who said I comprehended any of it? Then I left and hopped into the bus and sat on the indoor bar. I was going to be here a while. I had my drink. It calmed me. Then I stepped outside again. Looked around. It was a quiet little town. An ugly lot half filled with garbage. Maybe there were some parts that the driver could fix the car with. I walked towards it. Then, I saw it. The garbage was like its cover. Then, behind it was a bunch of people, kneeling on the ground, planting seeds. I, with my new converse shoes was reluctant to go in, but this was one of those times when your inner sense of curiosity took over. I never had a home, so touring gave me a place to stay. My dad died when I was four. Then my sister. I needed something to keep me off of the brink of suicide. I loved playing music. I made a career out of it. I still don’t have a home. Will I ever get one? I stepped in the garden. I immediately regretted it as my shoes were stained. I walked in a little more. I've only been in this town for a couple of minutes and I could tell this is what made the locals interact with each other. I walked up to a local. She was Asian. Korean maybe. Her broken English was a give away. We chatted and she told me about the garden. Then the white guy came up to me. He started telling me how gardening cured the mad. Then I popped the question, and no I didn't ask him out. "What about an addiction?" I asked. He explained that if someone were an addict, it would put his or her mind off it. What was this guy? A psychiatrist? I severely doubted him, but the look in his eyes told me that he knew what he was talking about. I needed another drink. I walked inside. I knew something was different, but I dismissed it. I sat down and took out my drink. Then it hit me. Why hadn't we called 911 or Zomba records or something? I left my phone at a concert in Denver so I couldn't but the other band members could. I told them it and they replied back, "We don't have them. They broke when we fell out of the bus." I stormed out of the bus. I needed a cigarette, and then I remembered that guy telling me it could cure me. Gardening. I looked around


and found the hardware store and bought some celery seed. I then ran to the garden and found a shovel. I took my time, trying to see what the locals see in gardening. I got to say I felt something. My system was being drained of the tar, or so it felt. I don't know what happened. I knew I was going to stay here for a while, so I checked in a room at a motel. I left and grabbed my shovel, then Jacob; the bassist said that Zomba was coming. I was too far with my planting. I told them I would catch up with them. Three Years Later I’ve been here for a while. I’ve really connected to the community. I still play guitar and I haven’t smoked in months. I’ve finally clean.

Pieter


By: John Natalone It’s been one whole year now. One year since the day I lost my mother. It started 23 years ago, when I was born in Poland. When I was 7, my mother, my father, and I moved here to America. We settled in this very neighborhood in Cleveland. We weren’t together for long. Two years after I moved here, my mother and father divorced. My father ran away. Where – I have no idea. I stayed with my mother, and forever I shall. Until she passed. That was one year ago, but it felt like yesterday. It was a Saturday. I went out to get the groceries. I walked into my apartment to see her collapsed on the floor. I ran to the phone and called 9-1-1, but it was too late. Every morning, I take a jog to keep my mind off her, but almost nothing works. One day on my daily jog, I decided to take a new route on Gibb Street. As I was jogging, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I stopped and looked. It was a small garden. I remember gardening with my mother back in Poland. It was my favorite time of the day back then. With those sweet memories, I decided to start my own little garden. The next day, I went to the store and got some flowers and an assortment of seeds. No vegetables, just flowers. Then I headed to the garden to plant them. That first day, I planted only one flower. It was a small purple violet. I don’t know why, but that flower always stood out. Over the next couple of weeks, I planted A LOT more flowers. Pretty soon, I had a real nice flower patch going. The entire time, I wasn’t thinking of my mother at all. But then Mother’s Day came. When I saw it on my calendar, only one week away, thoughts of my mother, good and bad, flooded through my mind. I didn’t go to the garden that day. When I did, the next day, my flowers were really looking good. A man came up to me and commented on my flowers. He said that they were nothing like he’d ever seen. He said that he wanted to buy them off of me for Mother’s Day. I replied with one word. “Sure.”


After that man came more men, women, even children were asking to buy my flowers. That entire week leading up to that Mother’s Day was very enjoyable. I met a lot of new people that week and flowers were being sold like crazy. By the end of that week before Mother’s Day, I sold every single flower from my garden. Except one. That first purple violet I planted was still there; it still stood strong. For some weird reason, I felt happy. I felt some sort of… feeling that’s impossible to describe. I went home that night. Tomorrow was Mother’s Day, and I felt lost. All those good people bought my flowers for their mothers. If only I could do the same. All I had were my hopes, my dreams, my thoughts. And my garden. I did have my garden. I fell asleep that night feeling a bit better. When I woke up that Mother’s Day, I took that first purple violet I planted and placed it on my front porch so my mother can see it from up there. I then went to the store and got more violet seeds. I then planted them in my garden. A month later, I looked at my violets coming out of the soil. They were all beautiful; I knew my mother could see them. That day, a man asked if he could buy one off of me. I smiled.

My name is Natasha and I live in an apartment building ALONE. I use to live with my best friend Tiffany. My boyfriend Ryan use to visit all the time but that didn’t work out to good. Me and Tiffany


had been friends from 8th grade all the way to my 3 year of collage but she wants to be a bad friend and mess up all what we been through. In my apartment building in the town of Cleveland there are 4 rooms and a bathroom a large kitchen a nice living room. My apartment is pretty big and now I have no one to share it with but after my last semester I think I’m going to move back at home with my parents. Its pretty scary living alone and I don’t even like this neighborhood to much, Tiffany picked out the apartment because its close to school, but I do have a cute little dog her name is munchiee she’s 3 years old and she’s a cockapoo. Tiffany is gorgeous no wonder what happened to me happened to me. We use to share everything we shared half of this apartment we shared clothes makeup rent money food beds stories and I guess she thought I would be okay when I found out we been sharing my boyfriend for 2 years. That’s what happened. I called her and told her I would be coming home from work late, I do have to work half time to live and pay for school clothes food pet food an everything, ugh everything is so hard, but then my friend at work said she would take my shift and that I can go home early and I forgot to call and tell them I wasn’t coming home late anymore. When I pulled into my parking lot and saw Ryan’s car I was so suspicious. All that went in my head is why is he here what are they doing only them two alone without me. I usually knock the door but I opened it with my key I ran in my room and there they were in my bed and there clothes on the floor. I think you get what happened. I ran out took my car and drove alone for a little while I was just so surprised I wouldn’t think my best friend would do this to me. This is why I don’t TRUST anyone anymore. Later that day she explained everything, that’s when she told me Ryan and her been messing around for 2 years. Me and Ryan been together for 4 years, why would he want to risk losing me after all those years, I guess he


didn’t really love me , Tiffany and I been friends for 8 years why would she want to risk that too, I guess she didn’t really care about me. I kicked Tiffany out, if she really dose not care about my feelings then I don’t care where she lives or how she would take care of herself. What broke my heart the most is that they live together now their not even guilty about anything. When I told my mother the story she was heart broken that I lost such a good man that was in my life and my best friend at the same time, but I guess everything was all an act. I try to move on with my life and keep all of that in the past. I can always find someone else but what made me change and not even want to move on is that I can’t trust anyone, its really hard for me. When I’m done with school I’m going to meet my mother brother father and sister in Brazil, I’m Brazilian I have long black hair with blondish brownish highlights and tan soft skin, I also have light brown eyes, I’m about 4’11 and weigh about 125 pounds. I’m going to get my passport renewed as soon as I go back to Brazil because it needs to be updated and thts all the information it would say on it, I cant get it renewed here because I wasn’t born here. I moved to the United states when I turned 14 I lived with Tiffany and her parents my mom knew her mom when they were younger, my mother wanted me to have a good education so that’s why she sent me with them. I might find someone in my country I bet Brazilian men are more faithful then Italian. I’m assuming that because my mom and dad been together for 28 years, and Ryan is Italian and he is not faithful at all. One day after school I went to the grocery store and since I live in a town with so many stores and shops around the corner I decided to walk. I was walking and I passed by a lot with tons of people talking about a bunch of plants. I was really curious and confused. I thought to myself wow all these plants look beautiful I want to plant one. So I went to the grocery store first and bought


dinner and chive seeds to plant at the lot. I thought it would make me less stressful if I started planting again because in Brazil I always use to plant in my mothers garden. There were about 4 people in the lot planting and looking at their plants. I walked into the lot and a man passes by I saw that he was planting roses. I thought he was good looking so I went next to his flowers and dig up a whole to start planting my chives. He said “hi what’s your name?” I said “ Natasha and yours?” He said “Chris, what’s a fine woman like you doing over here alone at this time of night?” I said “oh I’m just planting some chives I get stressed sometimes and planting helps me relax”. “You look way to young to be stressed out, why are you”. I enjoyed this handsome man talking to me but I didn’t trust him enough for him to ask me all these personal questions. After Ryan I feel like I can’t trust anyone. So I didn’t bother answer back. I just picked up my bags and walked away. When I got home I started hysterical crying in my bed. I can’t believe I’m still not over Ryan. Its been 5 months since we be over. The next day I woke up really early and went to school then work and when I came home really late it was 2:30 am I wanted to go to the lot because the first time I went I didn’t even get to plant my chive seeds. I decided to go to the lot when no one is there, but I saw Chris there. “are you okay?” he said. “yes thanks for asking, I just get very emotional since I been out of a relationship.” I said. “Yeah same I broke up with my girlfriend after we been together for 7 years”. He said “ why did you break up with her for?” I said “ She cheated on me” he answered back. After he said such a similar story to mine and that he actually trusted me I was really surprised. “ I told him oh I’m so sorry” and after he told me all what happened full detail we were just sitting in the lot talking and blabbering away. I looked at my phone and it was 4:30am. “Oh my god I have work tomorrow” I said “ill see you later” he said “bye”


When I got home I realized I didn’t get to plant anything. The next day it was Sunday I had no time for hanging out or going to the lot I had to just worry about my schoolwork. 2 months past and the school semester was over. It was really hot outside and I realized the last time I been to the lot I forgot to plant my seeds and I decided to go there now. I went to the lot and I saw Chris he was watering two sets of plants I realized those were his roses and my chives together and it made such a beautiful site. I went over to him and said “oh my god everything is beautiful, you planted these for me” “yeah” he said “That night we were talking you left your seeds here, so I decided to plant them for you. You also left your wallet, here you go” “Thank you so much”. After that moment Chris made me realize that I can trust people again. Chris and I been talking for 5 months so now its been 10 months since me and Ryan. In summer Chris and I went over to Brazil so I can visit and I introduced him to my family. After that day going to the lot it allow me to just have faith and forget the past and to trust again.


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