Words and Images


Capturing a Sense of Place 2: Words and Images

Presented by:

@ Tacoma Public Library

StoryLab is Funded by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation


As We Walk

We walk along the wet snow-covered sidewalks unpleasant faces watch us like an animal watches its prey. Our faces become wet from the rain that falls from above, and we can easily hear the sirens of a fire truck speeding through the sad and gloomy city that surrounds us. But soon we stop at a coffee shop to get out of the depressing weather, and just one sip from my cup, lifts my spirit.

The world surrounds us in colors and shapes. Falling green leaves, red newspaper boxes, rough gray light poles. Boring things in this small world. Yet, all of it can be turned into something beautiful and creative. Something called art. —  Zane

Reflections of the Past

Strolling down the dark, unforgiving avenue his eye caught on a flash of brilliant crimson.  Faintly, he heard the carefree laughter of his past; the excited shrieks of a young boy proudly showing off while his mother’s laughter wrapped him in a warm cocoon.  He blinked and the once red wagon now sat abandoned, encrusted with dirt.  The frigid breeze had whisked away the laughter until all that was left was a hollow echo.  The sky seemed to close in, the gray clouds despondent and listless, leaving him alone with his thoughts.  The ice crunched loudly under his weathered boots and each resounding footfall made him feel more alone in the silent city.  He gazed pensively across the barren, unending charcoal of the sky, watching over the uninhabited streets.  He glanced down for a moment, taking in the silhouette of lifeless branches in the puddle at his feet.  He paused, slowly tracing the contours of his face, each wrinkle reflected in the aged gnarly limbs of the tree.  Wearily, he trudged on, hoping the rain would wash away the thoughts that plagued him each waking moment.  He clung onto his past of ice cream cones, shiny new toys, and warm smiles, but eventually reality set in.  Jobless, loveless, and hopeless he longed to return to a simpler life. He continued on his way, wandering aimlessly until out of the corner of his eye he saw a small spot of color in the unending gray.  He stooped to pick up the small object, a brilliant crimson maple leaf.  A reminder of the blazing autumn in the dead of winter, reflections of a past long ago, but at the same time a small emblem of hope.  For a better life.  For the future. –by Stephanie

The Old Brick Wall

As I walked down the cold forgotten streets a chill of emptiness ran down my spine. Pounding through my head are only questions of what happened to this once beautiful Victorian neighborhood. Was it time? Was it lack of care? Was it simply the weather?

I do a double take at the sight of an old brick wall, picturing the day when it was first built. With not a scratch or dent in the fresh white paint in which it was covered. It troubles my mind.  It troubles my mind because as I snap out of that dream, I see what is commonly known as reality.  Half destroyed with only dirty strips of paint peeling off slowly over time.

I keep on walking.  I walk and walk, pondering the mysteries of this town.  I break my train of thought as I hear music.  A person talking to a backbeat.  Rap, maybe?  I turn to see an old beat up car, with windows rolled down barely an inch. The car is practically shaking from the alarming volume the track is being played at. I almost like the feeling. The beat makes me feel happy and full inside. This is the only sound I hear, and it will be remembered every time I picture this place.  I am now back, back to where I started.  However, I have something more than I left with.  I have something to think about, and a new perspective on how life can change along with what one is surrounded by. — by Sarah

Faded Smile Endless Beauty

She looked out of her window and her smile faded. But was it the slush on the ground, the gray in the sky or her own confined be-wilderness? No longer was she happy and bubbly, now those memories were filed of sorrow and depression. All she saw were buildings covered with trees and withered in vines. And the scent of Grandma’s sweet apple pie was replaced by winter morning’s gloomy, moldy musk. But that look, the facial expression I saw when I glanced upon her face was not only confused but it was tampered by the sounds that she could not hear. It was upsetting to me, to watch her become so confined and trapped within her windowpane, and even worse it forced her day after day to see but one scene. And I thought it sinful of that scene to leave her happiness as nothing but a forgotten memory and shake her world like an unwelcomed twist of fate. In her eyes she saw darkness and despair and she heard nothing simply because she failed to see earth’s clear endless beauty. — by Nodia


The fences of downtown Tacoma strive to prohibit the malintentioned miscreants who meander the streets from entering the areas of the sketchy, scary, scarred skeletons sitting silently in abodes built of brick and birch. The words of warning by the fences fencing and the mailboxes mailing seem to contradict themselves with hypocritical surroundings which counter their own very essence. Though when viewed from afar a fence seems to contain, zoom out, observe walls of large buildings. The lines in the wood are the lines of skyscrapers, stretching to grate on the clouds. While the atmosphere’s loud, the streets remain silent, and seem to speak to themselves. Their whimsical whispers make merry of misanthropes who seek to disrupt and rebel.

Though the people may seek to uprise,

the city sees through their quaint lies.

They look for change in a haze,

but will learn to obey

as the town fences them in with its sky.

The boxes on buildings marked mail and post pretend to portray quite a service. They would seem to deliver the presents and products of caring companions and cold, careful companies, when in truth all they do is annoy. On the surface they’re kind, but I’m sure that you’ll find that like poison they quickly will spread. People say they’re convenient, but really don’t mean it, it’s a method for transporting ads. Anachronous thought is easily fixed when fire is bought and the glycerin mixed. –by Keegan


Fences are physical barriers built to either keep something in, or keep something out. Fences can be related to multiple life situations as well. For example, a fence can relate to a person’s pain and struggles. Any kind of emotional damage can cause a person to put up an emotional fence. This fence is the barrier that would not allow, or at least try to prevent any more pain then what has already been let it; this fence is a person’s emotional protection. — by Jessica