Flapper Press Poetry Cafe: Middle School Inaugural Poems
By Gillian Kessler:
As the inauguration approached, I could feel the kids' excitement and anticipation grow. I teach eighth grade, and it's been an intense year of new normals. While we have been fortunate enough to be "in person" all year, masks, six feet apart, close contact, and sanitize have been words that have worked their way into our daily vernacular. It's tough out there. But hope was on the horizon!
To prepare for the big event, we watched inaugural poets perform from years past, including Richard Blanco and Maya Angelou. The students watched their poems and then wrote down words and phrases that jumped out at them from inaugural poems of the past. They then were asked to weave those ideas into inaugural poems of their own. I was pretty amazed with what they came up with. And this is before Amanda Gorman blew everyone away with her masterpiece.
Here's to young voices everywhere!
For All That Is Together
A mother and daughter walk into the grocery store.
College students get a 5-minute break between classes,
Second grade students share and trade their lunches,
An elderly couple watch the 6pm news.
Two men walk down the street holding hands,
A gospel choir at the church sings hymns with soul,
A family of six stands in the underground, waiting for a subway
A group of friends work at a bar serving drinks.
For all that is together, why do we seem so divided?
We do not prosper in the new day if we did not get along in the old.
We cry for the 400,000 people who died to this virus.
People screaming, rioting at our nation's Capitol.
People screaming, protesting the violence that Blacks have endured.
Parents’ eyes puffy and red with tears over their lost children, killed by police brutality.
Suffrage and poverty around the country,
The only place or shelter under a tree.
Yet we are still together.
We must stay together.
Other people are as much of a need for us as oxygen,
As water and food,
A President and his Vice who ran the country,
Passing over power to the newly elected.
Families watch and wait, for the ceremony is starting.
Eyes around the globe glued to the T.V
Republicans and Democrats sit in the same space and celebrate the new President.
For today there is change.
We watch together.
Say it. BE it.
From sea to sea, the American dream flows through the rivers, through the valleys, through the snow, the air, the rock. Step by step, every child, every animal, every hope, dime, and drop of sweat is infected with the pure courage and dignity of every American. With no regard to race, class, belief, or area, we are all connected through an idea of unity, and of respect. To an extent, respect is not something earned, something decided, but the mutual idea we are all human.
As our fellow humans walk footless, swim boatless, climb armless, or dream hopeless, we have the responsibility to throw them the idea of safety through the darkest and coldest nights in the same way our ancestors received from each other many years ago.
A whisper spreads the simple truth,
That we are stuck,
Stuck in a room,
A cold, dark, damp room
We think the only way out is through a pool,
A pool of hate that is sticky like tar
A pool where once you get in you can’t get out,
Those that choose this path are often never seen again,
The hate they contain eats them from the inside,
It destroys them,
A whisper spreads the simple truth,
That there is a way,
We just have to look,
Deep inside ourselves to find the key,
The key that allows us to see the path of love.
We Will Unite
We all have stories worthy of being told, dreams worthy of being followed, love worthy of being protected.
We are all different, but we breathe the same air, see the same sky, feel the same feelings.
We are all fighting for truth, for our dreams, for our country.
So America, before this fight is over, we will unite,
And we will tear down the invisible barriers we’ve built to lock people out,
Barriers that are really locking us in.
In New York City, in Yellowstone National Park. In the rocky mountains, or wherever you are,
We will unite.
Through masks and through Zoom,
Through protests and riots.
We will unite.
Today, brave people, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many more have died wanting to protect their rights.
So we will unite.
We will come together and fight for our rights, for our freedom, for the America we love.
*Inspired by inaugural poets
The Things We Share
The sight of the horizon
All set under the same sky.
The feeling of being alive;
The warmth of the sun
The cool of falling snow
The whisper of the wind
All can be felt by one nation
The sound of many voices
One calling out for change
One upholding tradition
One asking to balance the new and the old
All the voices so different but all wanting the same thing
We all want every person in the country to be happy and have justice.
All so different, making a collage of people and ideas.
We band together to make something that can be beautiful.
We share this planet, and we make it beautiful together.
The Language of Freedom
Freedom is a language.
Not everyone speaks it.
We slowly climb to another place.
A place where everyone speaks the same language.
The language of freedom.
We all have a voice.
Some just get pushed down.
It’s the simple truth.
We all stand on the same ground.
Some just choose to float.
We all stand in a pool.
A pool full of sorrow and guilt.
Forgive to forget.
But we must not forget the language we teach.
The language of freedom.
Do not hide in the shadows you have created.
Do not use the darkness like a weapon.
We all must grow roots in the same language.
The language of freedom.
We all climb the same hill.
We all see the same dawn.
We all sculpt a new beginning.
We all sit under the same sky.
Pick up your feet and count the stars.
Each star is a sole that has fought endlessly.
Some rest on the riverside.
Arriving on a nightmare.
Small, separate, or alone.
We all breathe the same winter air.
Air is vital just like the language.
The language of freedom.
Each day, people rise under the same morning sun
They each have their own stories, secrets and thoughts
There are sweet smiles and straight faces
Testing times affect everyone, just as everyone is on the same ground
Each day has new challenges and chances
Some see a challenge as a chance
To do something better
People work hard to pay for their food, rent, healthcare
There is work being done under the sun
There is work being typed up to be ready
There is work being done with hands
One hand is carrying steaming food to a customer
Another deep under grease tinkering in a car
While these are all hands
Some belong to a black or white person
Some belong to a gay or straight person
Some belong to the rich poor homeless
These people are tethered to others
Through obligations, friendship or need
People call this unity
There are many types of love.
The love for each other, the love
For our country, the love for the ones
This is a day in our American history
Where we will have new hope, a new power
A new type of love.
People have to work so hard, hard to
get us to where we are today, many have
Died for what is right and what is wrong. Many
have had this country as their home and
their ancestors home.
There is one ground, it is all of our
ground. Whether you are gay or straight, rich or
poor, black African or white, It is all of our land, our
sky, our ocean, our moon we all share what the
world has to offer.
This will be a new chapter in American
history. It has been a very odd couple of years
with Covid, racial justice, homophobia, fires, and
global warming. We can make this the chapter
of our history by solving all of this. It doesn't
matter where you are from, who you love, or what
the colour of your skin is.
We can fix what we have caused with
our globally problem along with things
that don't matter and we can't choose.
All that we have to do is climb over this hill
and move on to the next.
— Logan Gillespie
We Are Change
I am the forest you walk through every day
I am the rifle you sight in at the range
I am the mountain you ski on the weekends
I am the ski jump your friend straddles in a sad attempt
I am the oak tree reaching for the sky
I am the ground on which you lie
And I am the tree on which you climb
I am not the hatred portrayed to the black and LGBT community because we are a community
I am not the people who so violently stormed the US capital
I am not the man or the woman who leaves their dog out in the cold
I am not the cop who kneels there and watched a black man die
I am the protests that raise awareness on BLM issues
And when we come together
And we focus on one and other
We can have peace and unity and a country
But when we ignore issues within our community
And more importantly the issues with black and LGBTQ
We fail in protecting the people who are so vulnerable
Because they’re “different” or “not human”
Cause they have a target on their head
Because people want to take their rights away
With a new president, I’m hoping things will change
But change doesn’t happen overnight
I wish it did but it doesn’t
And it will take a long time before it does
we are the change
The change that we so badly want to happen
But never does it change
Until we as a country make America change
And make America be the dream that we so badly want it to be
— Taylor C.
America, the United States
The land of the free
Being American is part of my identity
But oftentimes, I don't feel as though our country is more of the red states and the blue states, then the united states
From 1619, the beginning of slavery, to 2021, people storming the capital,
Our country has never been united
But somehow we ended up with that title
The United States
We say we are united when in reality, police are beating and killing innocent African American people
When hate groups burn down temples
When bombs are dropped on African American churches
When protesters are punished for fighting for basic human rights
And police throw tear gas through their crowds
When Mexicans are being held captive at the border
And their families are separated
We are still called the United States
But I think it is time that we earn that title
And I think it's time that we start to love and work with one another
Instead of hating and tearing each other down
Because I don't want to hear another story of an innocent black man being killed
Or an immigrant being yelled at on the streets
From the rocky mountains to the everglades
From the bays of San Francisco to crowded streets of NYC
We all need to fight for new beginnings
As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We need to stop judging people by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”
We need a united states.
When the Water Falls
Light is not without darkness
Darkness is not without light
When that water falls
And the sparrow sings
When dusk comes
And then night
When life is an endless tunnel of hardship
Only then do the little things
The sight of a face you love
The day can’t come without night
Night can’t come without the day
When the fire is kindled
And the songbird flies
When the shores are lapped with water
When we are lost and alone
Only then does the horizon
Without black, there is no white
Without white, there is no black
When the wind is calm
And the hummingbird weaves its nest
When we are under one sky
And one moon, one sun
Under the stars together
A place of light and laughter
Voices carry from the drowsy bedrooms
Dogs bark as they wait for their humans to come and fetch them their food
Sunlight flows in like a river of warmth and comfort
Coffee machines grind the beans of energy to wake the sleepy father
Mother tries not to grow stressed as she anticipates her first day back on the job
Child tries to put on the shoes that they would be bullied for at school
A place of community and family
The slap as a daughter catches the baseball thrown by the father
The hunks of cars as they are pulled onto the cracked black pavement
The cheerful yells of kids as they ran through the streets to school
Swings creaking as they moved in the wind forgotten from youth
Apples thudding as they fell into the woven basket
The bell of bikers as they jumped off the sidewalks
A place of peace and justice
Trains chugging as they cross the jagged teeth like mountains of the Rockies
Trucks honk as they slide across the endless cornfields
Cities hum as the din of millions of sounds flow with the air
Vast lakes sound with the strokes of a paddle or the motor of a boat
The crash of a ship as it hits port ready for a warm bowl of stew
The hiss of the factory with workers on their second job
Mr. President, we have to face the truth that not all want you to be where you are, but we are one, and we all won. Every day a light flies by, but today you're my light, and we don't want you to fly by. Millions face us every day, millions face you every day, through TVs and windows.
Warmth, that's what you provide, but it's how we take your warmth that matters.
Every day, all of us wake up, all 331 million of us waiting in cities, forests, beaches, and deserts.
For you, you to take our hands and lead the way.
You to be the light in our life, you to take our breath and make it yours.
You make us resilient.
You to save our lives.
You, you are what we depend on for the next 4 YEARS, you matter. WE MATTER.
Black, Spanish, Jew, French, Irish, Russian, Muslim, we all matter.
WE ALL MATTER
FlapperPress launches the Flapper Press Poetry Café.
Presenting a wide range of poetry with a mission to promote a love and understanding of poetry for all. We welcome submissions for compelling poetry and look forward to publishing and supporting your creative endeavors. Submissions may also be considered for the Pushcart Prize.
1. Share at least three (3) poems
2. Include a short bio of 50–100 words, written in the third person.
(Plus any website and links.)