"To You" and "Langston's Time"

To You

To sit and dream, to sit and read,
To sit and learn about the world
Outside our world of here and now –
Our problem world –
To dream of vast horizons of the soul
Through dreams made whole,
Unfettered, free – help me!
All you who are dreamers too,
Help me to make
Our world anew.
I reach out my dreams to you.

Langston Hughes

published in Soul Looks Back in Wonder
by Tom Feelings
Photographed by Carl Van Vetchen, courtesy of Wikipedia
Langston’s Time

I wasn’t alive when Langston Hughes wrote poetry,
so I don’t know what America was like then,
I’ve never known a world
without computers, cellphones,
and other so-called necessities –
without civil rights –
I couldn’t know
what it was like in Langston’s time
yet somehow, when I read his poems,
I can picture exactly how it must have been.
I can hear a time when the blues was popular
because it was a way of both celebrating
good times and despairing.
I can feel a time when memories of slavery
still haunted African-Americans.
Young black boys were drowned and lynched,
and Hughes was there to speak against it.
Hughes wrote about everything
from the joys
of a Saturday night
to the deep anger
he felt toward America.
I wasn’t alive when Langston Hughes wrote poetry,
but he taught me about the way things were
and the way they ought to be.

Henry Workman
-- published in Naming the World: A Year of Poems and Lessons
by Nancie Atwell, 2006.