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

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

Bring hope

Only then


Black, White

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


— Kintla

One Home


One home

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


One block

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


One nation

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


One universe

Growing together


— Oliver




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.


YOU!!!!!!!!!!

WE!!!!!!!!!!!!

US!!!!!!!!!!!!

THEM!!!!!!!!

WE ALL MATTER

Gillian Kessler is a poet, teacher, and a regular writer for Flapper Press. Her first published book of poems, Lemons and Cement, is available for purchase.


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.


Submission Guidelines:

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.)

3. Share a brief backstory on each submitted poem

4. Submit an Author's photo and any images you want to include with the poems

4. Send all submissions and questions to: info@flapperpress.com

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