National Poetry Month: Langston Hughes

We all need to have a dream, a goal to strive towards. I feel that it’s the fact we can dream of better that keeps us going. In the LGBT community there’s a fairly new community platform called “It Gets Better.” I know when I was younger, the dream about my soon to be fabulous LGBT life, is one of those things that kept me going.

Dreams can change over the years. I was recently talking to my friend, Michelle, about turning 40. She was telling me that she wanted to write a list of 40 things to do during her 40th year. I love that idea but I think I’m going to take it farther and make a list of 50 things to do before I turn 50. It’ll be a revised buried life list.

Langston Hughes knew about the power of having a dream. He wrote two great poems about dreams and, since I can’t choose which one to post, you get both this morning.

“Dreams” directly addresses the notion that having a dream gives us life. Without a dream, life becomes a blur of days that seep into each other filled with monotony. “Harlem” addresses what happens when you defer your dream and the consequences of deferring it to the point you forget about it.

Now, I know I’m going to have at least one person argue that they are too (fill in the blank) to see their dream come true. I say pish posh to that thinking. Some dreams are meant to be unattainable. I think we all dream of winning the lottery, especially when it gets to those insane jackpots, but we also know that the statistical odds aren’t in our favor. Yet, we still buy a ticket because we have hope we might beat the odds. Other dreams are within our grasp if we can separate the concept of having a dream versus being successful at that dream. Maybe you had a dream that you’d rock the Grammy stage and you find yourself at 26 without that Grammy. Well, the dream really was about singing and you can always rock the mic at the closest karaoke night.

May you always be able to dream

“Dreams” — Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

“Harlem” — Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

     Does it dry up
     like a raisin in the sun?
     Or fester like a sore—
     And then run?
     Does it stink like rotten meat?
     Or crust and sugar over—
     like a syrupy sweet?

     Maybe it just sags
     like a heavy load.

     Or does it explode?


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