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
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.