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What’s Real? by Javan Howard

I dream in black,

My nightmares are black.

Sometimes I don’t know the difference

between a space shuttle and The Nina, The Pinta and La Santa Maria.

We take broken elevators, and sail boats to infinity and beyond.

Sign declarations declaring people less than and claim:

One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind

We are all created equal. Make America great again.

I don’t know what to believe anymore.

It’s hard to discover what already exists.

Christopher Columbus becomes Neil Armstrong

George Washington becomes Donald Trump

Star Wars becomes Civil Wars. May the force be with you.

In a field of dreams, whereby nature, black dreams

are strange fruit hanging from the poplar tree:

I’m rooting for everybody black.

I dream in black,

My nightmares are black.

Sometimes I see dead people

and when I wake up, I still see dead people.

I’m surrounded by mirrors of myself.

I cannot Jordan Peele Us apart.

When looted in misery, how do you turn off the dark?

I tried once like the blackout of ‘03 New York City

it was the only time my skin felt lighter than the world I was in.

I didn’t know complexion had a weight to it

We all slave for success still chained to our dreams

I wonder what happens if we wake up?

Or even worse if we can’t.

What is the American Dream anyway?

Or a black nightmare? I’m stuck in one of them,

I’m not sure which one. Surrounded by other people’s thoughts

written in Shakespeare, where all the worlds a stage

twisting and turning from the unemployment of dreams.

I dream in black.

My nightmares are black

Sometimes I don’t know what’s real


Javan Howard is a poet and writer from Bronx, NY. He truly believes that the lived experience is the ultimate teaching tool and uses poetry as a social forum to foster discourse about love, culture, and identity. He has previously facilitated workshops across NYC with The New York State Office of Children and Family Services, Voices UnBroken, The GO Project and Wingspan Arts. He is currently a Teaching Artist for Teachers & Writers Collaborative and Usdan Summer Camp For The Arts. He is also the TAP Co-Director for Curricula, Mentorship & Facilitation at Community Word Project. Howard’s work has been featured online at WNYC News, Black Heart Magazine and Brooklyn Stories Vol. 13. and Poets For Peace, Zine #2: Poems For Resilience.

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