Amanda Gorman

An excerpt from “At First”:

We became paid professionals of pain.
Specialists in suffering,
Aces of the ache,
Masters of the moan.

An excerpt from “Fugue”:

We added a thousand false steps
To our walk tracker today
Because every step we’ve taken
Has required more than we had to give.

An excerpt from “Another Nautical”:

We, like the water, forget nothing,
Forgo everything.
Words, also like the water,
Are a type of washing.
Through them we cleanse ourselves
Of what we are not.
That is to say, words
Are how we are moored & unmarred.
Let us rouse & roar
Like the ancient beasts we are.

An excerpt from “In the Deep”:

Yes, nostalgia has its purposes—
Transport from the spectered,
The jobs never coming back,
The mothers’ primal screams,
Our children’s minds shuttered from school,
The funerals without families,
Weddings in waiting,
The births in isolation.
Let no one again
Have to begin, love, or end, alone.

An excerpt from “Compass”:

The pain pulls us apart,
Like lips about to speak.
Without language nothing can live
At all, let alone
Beyond itself.

Lost as we feel, there is no better
Compass than compassion.
We find ourselves not by being
The most seen, but the most seeing.
We watch a toddler
Freewheel through warm grass,
Not fleeing, just running, the way rivers do,
For it is in their unfettered nature.
We smile, our whole face cleared
By that single dazzling thing.
How could we not be altered?

An excerpt from “Hephaestus”:

We labor equally
When we fall as when we rise.
Always remember that
What happened to us
Happened through us.

We wonder how close
Can we come to light
Before we shut our eyes.

How long can we stand the dark
Before we become more than our shadows.

“Every Day We Are Learning” (full poem)

Every day we are learning
How to live with essence, not ease.
How to move with haste, never hate.
How to leave this pain that is beyond us
Behind us.
Just like a skill or any art,
We cannot possess hope without practicing it.
It is the most fundamental craft we demand of ourselves.

An excerpt from “Cordage, or Atonement”:

We are the whale,
With a heart so huge
It can’t help but wail.
We can’t help but help.
If given the choice, we would not be
Among the Chosen,
But amidst the Changed.

Unity is its own devout work,
The word we work in,
That leaves us devastated to be delivered.

The future isn’t attained.
It is atoned, until
It is at one with history,
Until home is more than memory,

Until we can hold near
Who we hold dear.

What a marvelous wreck are we.
We press out of our cold
& separate crouching.
Like a vine sprung overnight,
We were reaching & wretched
Upon this mortal soil
& even so we are undiminished.
If just for this newborn day,
Let us take back our lives.

“Life” (full poem)

Life is not what is promised,
But what is sought.
These bones, not what is found,
But what we’ve fought.
Our truth, not what we said,
But what we thought.
Our lesson, all we have taken
& all we have brought.

An excerpt from “_____[Gated]”:

Never forget that to be alone
Has always been a price for some & a privilege for others.

We have yielded
Centuries of sidewalk,

To be kept to the edges of existence is the inheritance of the marginalized.

“Rose” (full poem)

Riots are red
Violence is blue
We’re sick of dying
How ’bout you

An excerpt from “We Write”:

We write
Because you might listen.
We write because
We are lost
& lonely,
& you, like us,
Are looking
& learning.