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About this poet

E. Ethelbert Miller was born in New York City, New York, in 1950. He received his B.A. from Howard University. His poetry collections include How We Sleep On the Nights We Don't Make Love (Curbstone Press, 2004), Whispers, Secrets, and Promises (1998), First Light: New and Selected Poems (1994), Where Are the Love Poems for Dictators? (1986), Season of Hunger/Cry of Rain: Poems 1975-1980 (1982), The Migrant Worker (1978), and Andromeda (1974). He also is editor of many anthologies, including the highly-acclaimed In Search of Color Everywhere: A Collection of African American Poetry (1994) and Women Surviving Massacres and Men (1977). He is also the author of the memoir Fathering Words: The Making of an African American Writer (2000). His awards include the Columbia Merit Award and the O.B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize. In 1979, the Mayor of Washington, DC, proclaimed September 28, 1979 as "E. Ethelbert Miller Day." Miller is the Founder and Director of the Ascension Poetry Reading Series, one of the oldest literary series in the Washington area, and the director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University, a position he has held since 1974. He and his wife live in Washington, DC.

The Ear is an Organ Made for Love

E. Ethelbert Miller

       (for Me-K)

It was the language that left us first.
The Great Migration of words. When people
spoke they punched each other in the mouth.
There was no vocabulary for love. Women
became masculine and could no longer give
birth to warmth or a simple caress with their
lips. Tongues were overweight from profanity
and the taste of nastiness. It settled over cities
like fog smothering everything in sight. My
ears begged for camouflage and the chance
to go to war. Everywhere was the decay of
how we sound. Someone said it reminded
them of the time Sonny Rollins disappeared.
People spread stories of how the air would
never be the same or forgive. It was the end
of civilization and nowhere could one hear
the first notes of A Love Supreme. It was as
if John Coltrane had never been born.

Copyright © 2010 by E. Ethelbert Miller. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2010 by E. Ethelbert Miller. Used with permission of the author.

E. Ethelbert Miller

E. Ethelbert Miller was born in New York City, New York, in

by this poet

poem
I'm in the school bathroom
washing my hands without
soap but I'm still washing my hands.

I turn the water off
and look for a paper towel
but paper towels have been gone
since the first day of school
and it's June now.

I start to leave the bathroom
with my wet hands but then
the big boys come in talking
loud
poem
Everything
Each eye exists embracing exceptional emerald evenings
Evolution explains Eden's evil
Earth's ecology equates exploitation evaporation
Errors ending evergreen elms
Escort elephants eagles elks eastward
Enlightenment echoes Ezra Ezekiel
Enlist Esther Eugene Ethan Edward Ellington
Enough English
poem

When was the last time you mailed a postcard?

My mother kept the ones I sent her. My sister mailed them back

to me after my mother died. I had forgotten I had written

so many small notes to my mother. The price of stamps

kept changing. I was always mentioning on