Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Harlem

Here on the edge of hell
Stands Harlem—
Remembering the old lies, 
The old kicks in the back,
The old "Be patient"
They told us before.

Sure, we remember.
Now when the man at the corner store
Says sugar's gone up another two cents,
And bread one,
And there's a new tax on cigarettes—
We remember the job we never had,
Never could get,
And can't have now
Because we're colored.

So we stand here
On the edge of hell
in Harlem
And look out on the world
And wonder
What we're gonna do
In the face of what
We remember.

Credit


From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes published by Alfred A. Knopf/Vintage. Copyright © 1994 by the Estate of Langston Hughes. Permissions granted by Harold Ober Associates Incorporated. All rights reserved.

Author


Langston Hughes

A poet, novelist, fiction writer, and playwright, Langston Hughes is known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties and was important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance.

Date Published: 1994-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/harlem