On The Dream (For Langston Hughes)

America, you never knew how the dream survived,

Or was just Deferred or broken down,

Or hanging on the tree above,

But it still lives still carried deep inside our souls,

Inside our eyes’ and breasts that heave,

in each of these uncounted hearts,

Upon the blistered backs of those,

with ashy skin and souls as deep as all the longest rivers flowed,

You never watched the dream below,

that sat upon the stairs dug deep,

by hands to lift the pedestal,

Now motionless and high above

And standing over promised lands,

Above the purpled grains that waved,

While we were left in wilderness,

to feast on promises unmet,

You never heard the song we sang,

When only some could rise above,

Yet every voice was lifted up,

To raise our voice,

And let this sound of freedom ring,

Or listened when our knees bent down,

And laid themselves upon the ground,

In earth itself to consecrate,

in blood and breath,

to make each life in justice live,

Instead of lives by stolen grace,

You never knew how work was hard,

Or when all ‘twas built,

Inside of hot and endless toil,

The pain and bliss in blessed hours

we carved and toiled on Marbled Steps,

While waiting for the grapes long stored,

Of justice where the vintage laid,

inside the Lord’s own very wrath,

But once that draught was trampled out,

Still we but sipped the empty cup,

The last to drink from every well,

No matter how the well was dug,

You hid your face from

Broken hearts,

which cracked in labor each fallen sun,

When lives were left in bushel carts,

What can you know then of a Dream?

that for yourselves alone you claimed?

A dream forever wrought by tears,

But measured by Eternal scales,

By sweat and blood of other hands,

And knew the hopes of quiet dreams beneath the weight forever gone,

I shall not celebrate a dream,

until you wake to know this truth.

-Albert Turner Goins

7/4/2021