This work was featured in Issue 18:2, Spring 2017 — Cave Canem 20th Anniversary Issue

Nagueyalti Warren

Dream Variation

I dreamed last night of Langston Hughes.
He visited my poetry class.
Students said, I thought he was dead?
He died in the 1960s.
Yes, but here he is talking about Harlem
The Black Renaissance that was still life.
He was still life for Van Vechten.
Now he is here teaching the blues stanza
To freshwomen in tight blue leggings,
Makeup hiding their innocence.
Hughes takes us down that mighty brown tear
When dawns were young, and my students
Notice his good hair, say he is fine looking, hot.
He is dead, I remind them, and he was gay.
Really, way back then?
They think gay/queer homosexual is a new thing
Just as they believe heartbreak lonely nights
And love are twenty-first century phenomenon.
I say thanks for coming Mr. Hughes.
He replies, I, too, Sing America, then
Kisses me farewell.

 

Nagueyalti Warren is the author of three books of poems: Braided Memory (winner of the Violet Reed Hass Prize, Snake Nation Press, 2011), Margaret (Circa 1834-1858) (winner of the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Prize, Lotus Press, 2008), and Lodestar and Other Night Lights (Mellen Poetry Press, 1992). Her nonfiction books include: Critical Insights: Alice Walker (Salem Press, 2012), W.E.B. Du Bois: Grandfather of Black Studies (Africa World Press, 2011), Temba Tupu!/Walking Naked: Africana Women's Self-Portrait (Africa World Press, 2008). She is a Professor of African American Studies at Emory University.