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,