Home » Season 3 » U.S. Historical “I am” Poems

U.S. Historical “I am” Poems

By Samantha Sarafin, John Hart, George Littlefield, and Ginny Walsh, V Form

U.S. Historical “I am” Poems

Each of our United States History courses revolves around eight major themes prevalent throughout history. One of those themes is the question of “Who is an American” at any given time in the nation’s history. In keeping with our work and also trying to connect what we do inside our classroom to the broader St. Mark’s community and world at large, each class took their Community and Equity Day “I am” poems and looked at them from a historical angle. Each student was asked to look at an “I am” poem from the perspective of a figure from history. Some students were asked to be someone as specific as Alexander Hamilton, while others were representative of a group in history. As we, along with our entire SM community, tackle the question of identity, some students were tasked with looking at history through the lens of those on the “other side” of history; the downtrodden, oppressed, and often forgotten voices from the past. The students below represent but a whisper of that voice and hopefully help to open the window into what life was like for slaves in the Antebellum South and for Native Americans facing increasing pressure to be forcibly moved farther and farther West.

By Samantha Sarafin, V Form

I am only of a person.

I wonder how my life would shift if I gained just a more. Maybe no longer would

I hear the stories of others just like me, or no longer would

I see the hands more callused and the backs more curved than my own.

I want to stop and breathe, to feel whatever freedom used to feel like but

I am only of a person.


I pretend to revel in the dark mornings and nights, the endless work day after day because

I feel still the burn of punishment a year and a half before.

I touch my chest with my palm, feel the of a heart beating and

I worry that this of a heart has shrunken down to nothing at all.

I cry over a life I once had, over the useless hope that someday I would not be just a slave, but still I know that

I am only of a person.


I understand that I have never looked the same, that I am just a dark shadow of the light, lucky Americans.

I say that though I am of a person, with of a heart and of the opportunity, I am still 5/5 of a darker shadow and

I dream of the day I will step out into the light, gain of the courage to fight for my freedom.

I try to have hope, to dig deep, to pick away at the concrete that is slowly making me heartless, but the only thing

I hope is to stop thinking, to stop trying to hope, to someday stop working my fingers to the bone. But still, I cannot because

I am only of a person.


By John Hart, V Form

I am no man

I wonder why I am not

I hear my brothers cry

I see my sisters beat

I want to live a life

I am no man

I pretend working doesn’t kill me

I feel my owners eyes watching

I touch the fields with my callused feet

I worry every day

I cry when I wake up and realize freedom is just a dream

I am no man

I understand I have no place to go

I say it will get better

I dream that some way this world will end

I try to act like a man

I hope we can be more than 3/5

I am no man


By George Littlefield, V Form

I am one with nature

I wonder who these strange white faces are

I hear the cries of my brothers and sisters

I see my land…deteriorating

I want the land of my people, once again

I am one with nature


I pretend this obstruction does not bother me

I feel like my mother nature is dying

I touch the soul of my children, who I know will die

I worry about the future of my mother nature

I cry when I see the deaths of my brothers and sisters

I am one with nature


I understand my people are being used

I say only what I know when the white men came

I dream for a day when my mother earth returns

I try to motivate a lost people’s spirit

I hope my freedom is not taken

I am one with nature


By Ginny Walsh, V Form

I am Native to this land

I wonder why these strangers invade our homes

I hear different languages, gunshots and cries for war

I see our women and children running, our land burning and my brothers lying still around me

I want the white faces to leave, to go back where they came

I am Native to this land


I pretend to understand their morals and actions

(but) I feel a raging fire within my heart

I touch the shoulders of my brothers as we pray to our ancestors

(but) I worry for our future

I cry and yell as we run into battle

I am Native to this land


I understand the growth of the intruder’s population

I say to my tribe that we must maintain our independence

I dream of the day I see the white faces disappear

I try to excuse fear and rely on our leaders

I hope to destroy the label of “savage”

I am Native to this land


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