Slam Poem: Langston Hughes (I Dig You)

My senior year of college, I joined the slam poetry club. Much to my surprise, I placed first at my first poetry slam competition. Here’s one of the poems I performed that night.

Langston Hughes (I Dig You)

I live my life by the words Langston Hughes
Bled onto a page in 1951. His motto, as he lived and learned, was
“Dig and be dug in return.” If he were alive and standing on my
Front lawn, I would walk up to him, my little hand stretched out
And my mouth forming the phrase, “Thank you, Mr. Hughes” on repeat.
And when he gripped my hand in his, I’d tell him “Hey, I dig you”
And maybe he’d dig me a bit in return and then we’d dig the whole world.
‘Cause I don’t think we love enough, and I know that’s something people say
When they want to seem like decent individuals instead of horrible people
Who stay up late not saving whales, but thinking about who they’d love
To see fall down an elevator shaft or how their neighbor looks without clothes on,
But I really think it’s true. We’re constantly afraid to say “I love you” to the
People we can’t get enough of. Instead of getting caught up in each other,
We find ways to avoid getting close. We drink and we smoke and we inject things
To make us depend on something — anything — other than each other.
Well, me and Mr. Hughes ain’t down with that. We’d wrap the world in our arms,
If we could, and we’d tell the clouds that it’s OK to cry, ‘cause that means you’ve
Still got emotions—you’re still alive. And I can’t stop thinking about how
When I was a child I had a stuffed horse that played that song
“What the world needs now, is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”
I wish I could stand on top of the world with that horse and just lift it over my head
And let it sing its message to everyone. I’m just one little girl, but I’ve got a lot of fight in me
And I’d like to fight for something with meaning, ‘cause I’m in love with a man whose
Heart gave out 22 years before I took my first wailing breath and the only thing he wanted the world
To know was it’s OK to love, just dig someone and maybe, they’ll dig you too, and if they don’t,
Man, that sucks and me and Mr. Hughes feel you, but don’t give up. We’ve all got a little
Fight in us, so fight for love. Fight for your neighbor you keep thinking about at 3 a.m. when
You should be sleeping. Fight for that asshole in the cubicle next to yours, ‘cause he’s probably
Such a supreme douche because he just wants to be dug. We all just want to be dug.
So let’s write “I dig you” on our palms and let the ink soak in and whenever we touch someone,
That love’ll soak into them and maybe, just maybe, they’ll feel like the world isn’t such a big
Ball of shit, after all. Maybe they’ll feel like they aren’t such a big ball of shit, after all.
Maybe that’s stupid, but me and Mr. Hughes always thought of ourselves as dreamers
And, yeah, we dig that.

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