What Happens to a Dream Deferred? by Arika Elizenberry

(For Langston Hughes)


It lurks in the cracks of walls
and sidewalks amorphous as a

cloud of smoke – too idle to seal
the gaps together. It is not an

orb of light striking the hands
of a man to replicate Cezanne

or the feet of a girl scuffing
up a dance floor with tap

shoes. Rather it stays trapped
like heat in carpet – half alive,

teasing. A make believe Phoenix
probing the earth before returning

to ashes. Its synthetic soul slithers

into the chest and sleeps in the
heart – sometimes yawning and

masking as passion when she
picks up a camera to seize a

landscape, but never develops
the film. A dream deferred is

a wallflower, weak and wavering,
disguised as an oak tree.



Arika Elizenberry is a native of Las Vegas, Nevada. She is the assistant poetry editor of Helen: A Literary Magazine. Her work has appeared in journals such as 300 Days of Sun, Toasted Cheese, Open Road Review, Blue Lyra Review, and Burningword Literary Journal. She has an associates in Creative Writing and is working on her bachelors in English.