Flapper Press Poetry Cafe: Middle School Inaugural Poems

By Gillian Kessler:

Amanda Gorman - Photo: visualhunt.com

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


Together.

8 letters.

3 syllables.

One word.


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.

Together.


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.

Together.


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,

As peace.

As acceptance.

As love.

Acceptance, together.

Love, together.


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.


Together.

8 letters.

3 syllables.

One word.

Say it. BE it.

Together.


— Athena


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.


— Ruben



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.


— Emma

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


— Natalie