Humanist Voices in Verse: Inaugural Poem 2013

We’re featuring a new poem by James C. Coomer. He is emeritus professor of political science and former Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Mercer University. He has held faculty and administrations positions at the University of Houston and at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He is the author of several books and his collection of poems, A Lifetime of Yesterdays, is available through all e-book distributors.

In submitting this poem, Coomer joked, “Since President Obama did not invite me to write an inaugural poem this year, I thought that I would ignore this sleight and write one anyway!”

If you’d like to contribute original poetry to Humanist Voices in Verse, write to with “Poetry” in the subject line. Please send no more than three poems for consideration per week.


It is words that linger as eternal mist

…floating in the air over the city of Hope from whence they were once launched in hopes of catching a breeze that would carry them, not to history’s bookshelves to gather dust, but to hearts and minds that would nurture a present that would become a history worthy of the words.

It is words, released from this narrow marble corridor of Hope
… flung upward and outward, to challenge and inspire those who heard them and, for those who heard of them,  to transcend what is and have visions of what could be.

It is words
… forever mingling in the time and space between this Hill and the Memorial by the river, that give voice to Hope: “separate but unequal”

Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable”
…ask what you can do for your country?”
“I have a dream, today”
“to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.”

It is words that live, and are given life, along this narrow avenue reflecting our country’s history.

It is words that we, in our turn, throw into the winds of this corridor;
knowing not where they will settle, by whom they will be received, or for what purposes they will be used.  The only certainty is, they will hover over this space:
called forth, from time to time, as reminders of promises to be kept,
dreams to be encouraged,
and an undiminished belief that humankind has the capacity to hear words
that reflect the better angels of their nature.

—-James C. Coomer