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Featured poet E. Ethelbert Miller

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.