Poetry Festival will be held:

Saturday, April 27, 2024

2023 Winner

Kids Still Die

This poem is inspired by Langston Hughes’ poem “The Kids Who Die” (1938). Some lines are taken directly from the original poem.

In 2022 Kids Still Die,

Black and white.


While the kids are coughing, hooked to ventilators

The old and rich who feed them lies stay safe, and live on a while


Still eating blood and gold


They look the other way


Kids die at the hooves of the police.

Being crushed under their boots

The kids can’t breathe.


The news anchors who shouldn’t be taken seriously

Say that we are divided

While dividing us even more

Because they know if we stay divided, we can never rise up

We can never finally lift the boot off our necks


The kids will die trying to save the burning Amazon

While kids will die at the warehouses of the same name

Organizing workers


The Louis and Maries are now the Elons and Jeffs

The kids grab their forks and knives


All the kids will die


The kids who are trapped in the wrong bodies,

The kids who are blamed for something they weren’t ever a part of,

The kids who are praised and worshiped, but now forgotten,

The kids who are allowed to have a roof over their heads for only a few more months,

The kids whose only crime is the color of their skin


They still beat the Kids who die

Even if they were in their own homes

Even when they are protesting the very system doing the beatings


They still beat them with bullets and laws.


For a whole summer, we marched

We marched for the kids who die

We screamed the names of the kids who die


The screams and prayers of these kids ring throughout our history


Today is history


They called us terrorists

While they fought back against the peaceful and pacifists

With clubs and pepper spray

dogs and rubber bullets


The people see this

The rich retreat into their bunkers


The blood of the kids who die fuels the people

The old and rich know this

They lie about the kids who die

They don’t want the people to see

They quickly bury the kids in mass graves


They lock up the kids by the millions

They lock up the kids who are weak and ill

They lock up their hope

Their future

Their dreams


They don’t want us to know that kids have been dying for centuries

The people who lick the boot of the old and rich don’t want to feel guilty

For letting the kids die.


The artists paint the kids who die

With brushes and words

Pens and paper

On the walls of boarded-up shops


Kids are denied the rights to their bodies

Being caged for the crime of autonomy

The kids die trying to be themselves

The rights to feel comfortable in their own bodies

To feel comfortable in this society


Change is slow

We have a holiday celebrating the end of an evil

that is forever a scar on the history of the nation

While rich and old debate if that history should ever be taught

The people fight back against the old and rich

suffocating their right to a voice

While a law to protect that right is shot down


Like the kids who die


But the day will come — 

Maybe it will take another 100 years

But it’s coming

The marching feet of the masses

The people will be as one

The colors of the people will merge together

A rainbow of hope

One day our ark will come

The song of the people will ring throughout the land

It will be heard for miles and miles

The song of the kids who die


Kate McNicholas

The Field School

Grade: 9


Alexandria, VA


Alexandria, VA

Favorite Author or Book:

All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

Dream for the Future:

That there will be equity for all. There will be a universal healthcare system and basic universal income for all. Wealth will be redistributed and nuclear weapons will be destroyed.

Inspirational Figure:

It’s hard to choose just one. Here’s a list in no particular order. Alex Brightman, Brandon Rogers, Taylor Bostick, Paige Pluymers, Cara Will