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



The Things We Share


The sight of the horizon

Fields

Mountains

Trees

Buildings

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.


— Inez

 


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.


— Isabelle




Connected Together


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


— Bryce

 

Inaugural Poem


There are many types of love.

The love for each other, the love

For our country, the love for the ones

We love.

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.

 

Wearing Labels


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.


— Eliana



When the Water Falls


Darkness, light

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 hello

The sight of a face you love

Only then


Day, Night

The day can’t come without night