(Inspired by the work of National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda S. C. Gordon at President Biden’s inauguration.)

Only a year ago

we stepped into the abyss ―

a tunnel, barren of light ―

this generation’s congregational

dark night of the soul.

Some of us crept at first,

blindly bracing ourselves

against the cold walls

of the cavern as we stumbled

through the pitch-black labyrinth

of an enemy unseen and unknown.

Some bolted with abandon,

pushing others away ―

shoving them to the rocky ground

and trampling them like wild stallions ―

an inhumane human stampede ―

not knowing, not caring

who was maimed along the way.













chefserverbussercashier ―

all of us crammed into

a diabolical dragon’s lair,

none of us knowing

what the creature was

or even what it looked like.

All we knew was that it ate

and it ate and it ate―US―

we the people!

The terrorizedscaredashell people,

the WTFisgoingon people.

Then someone lit a candle.

A tiny flame it was,

but it mattered.

As other candles began to glow.

We stumbled still, but not as often\

We trampled still, but not as madly.

Flickers of light in the void

give us hope,

and hope gives us courage,

and courage gives us strength,

and strength will bring us through

this shrieking black hole.

We still walk a path

strewn with rocks and branches

and ditches and bodies,

but as we fight

we stand more upright,

emboldened by every life

that is saved,

every helper that is raised.

We will not escape the night,

but we shall emerge from it,

battered, beaten, and weary,

yet still standing, still breathing.

We must heed the darkness

and what it can teach us:

that life and health are precious

and that our relationships matter more

than all our possessions,

that we are not invulnerable

and that none have guarantees

of health or food or housing

or even life itself,

that we must give and receive help,

that we must honor one another

and practice kindness toward all ―

especially to the unkind.

Let us forget not the fallen.

If we do not want to be o’ertaken

by a viscous shroud of doom,

in remembrance of those lost,

we must build a better world,

void of hate and bigotry,

filled to overflowing with community

and unity and acceptance

and reverence and care for each other.

That is something we can do.

That is something we MUST do.


Originally published in Oxford, Mississippi’s The Local Voice

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