Ethelbert Miller has served poetry for more than 40 years, making this art play a vital role in our lives. He's picked up society's burdens, and changed them to archetypal songs so that the larger point is always better understood. Poetry shows rather than persuades and in this way Miller harmonizes social justice and story. Change to the good is a slow road but Miller walks it daily with evolving messages, clear articulation and good narrative structure. His affections and his strong intentions are in his writing. -Grace Cavalieri
Can You Get The Door?
It was a Saturday in November
or December, one of those days
you wish the year would end or
maybe begin again. The door bell
rings and no one in the house
hears it but you. There’s a choir
of rings already inyour head.
When you open the door you
pray the woman in front of you
is not a friend of Jesus, not a second
cousin or even a best friend.
She stands in front of you, old
enough to be your mother. She’s
overweight, dark-skinned and
wearing a wig. If you passed her
in the street you would notice
the sky first or maybe how three
people were waiting at the bus-stop,
and you could make four.
You’re holding the door open
like you’re standing in a toll booth
on the New Jersey Turnpike. The woman
has flyers and you don’t have a dollar.
She’s the woman you remember was
on the evening news maybe a month
ago. Her son was killed and she begged
the airwaves for an end to the violence.
She has a handful of flyers and a heart full of grief.
But there is nothing but static in the neighborhood.
Nothing but death living behind every other door.
E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer, literary activist, and the author of several collections of poetry and two memoirs. For fourteen years he has been the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. Miller serves as a board member for The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and is an inductee of the 2015 Washington, DC Hall of Fame. In 2016, he received the AWPGeorge Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature and the DCMayor's Arts Award for Distinguished Honor. Miller has taught at several universities and currently serves on the faculty at the University of Houston/Victoria. He is host of the weekly morning radio show On the Margin which airs on WPFW-FM 89.3.