The Poetic Hill - April 2017

E. Ethelbert Miller has been a DC poet and literary activist for nearly five decades. His important contribution to the local literary scene was recognized in April 2015 with his induction into the Washington, DC. Hall of Fame. The author of several collections of poems and two memoirs, his most recent publication is “The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller,” which brings together more than 300 poems representing his artistic journey. When he recently posted the poem below on Facebook, hundreds of people shared it. The response, he says, was “amazing.” 


This Is What I Want to Tell You

In the morning some of us will be missing.
Some of us never came home. Some of us
were rounded up and taken away. Some of
us disappeared. Some of us said nothing.
Some of us said it didn't matter. Some of us
didn't care.

This is how it begins.
It begins slowly like air.
It begins invisible like fear.
It begins like rain before clouds.
It begins when listening is no longer heard.
It begins when blood is red like eyes.
It begins with silence breaking into pieces.

All of us are strangers.
All of us will be taken.
All of us are crying.
All of us are angry.

This is what I wanted to tell you.
This is how it begins.
Every ending begins with someone.
Every beginning begins with us.

We can stop this.
We can stop this now.

This is how it begins.
Not with some of us but with all of us.

This is what I wanted to tell you.
Now tell someone else.

If you would like to have your poem considered for publication, please send it to (There is no remuneration.)

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