The Dream Returned: Introduction

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?

– Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred? We have just lived through the drying and festering, the stinking like rotten meat. We are keen to breathe again, to take stock of the American democracy to know what we need to fix, what we need to heal. These poems will help. But the poems are not bound by the geography of the American Dream, limited by its constitutional strains, historical arguments, or stains. They come from throughout America, from Canada, Honduras, Haiti, Brazil. They cross over to Europe, to Italy and France, and over the Great Wall into China before sauntering through India Gate into the Indian Subcontinent. They are assembled in the Beltway, a few miles from the Capitol and the White House, but their enveloping embrace is global.

This issue appears when America and the rest of the world have witnessed the siege on the Capitol,  when Americans and friends of the Dream elsewhere are hurting, smarting, trying to understand how the citadel could have been breached and with apparent ease. Why did the mob act, and on whose instruction? We know the answer and we are ashamed. But yet we are writing when the Dream is starting its long road back–like the Olympic flame that starts in Olympus and travels in relay around the world–when we are about to join that world, to recognize ourselves as partners and walk with dignity into the international pact to save the planet. America we suggest is starting finally to reckon with its darkness as well as its light. These poems are being released at a time of Dream restoration. Engage with them. Write back to us via the Facebook page or to the website. We are proud to have harvested again in the Dream orchard, the one that had gone to seed, the one served again to the world on Inauguration Day.

Indran Amirthanayagam, Editor
Sara Cahill Marron, Associate Editor