Poetry by E. Ethelbert Miller


Salat

poetry is prayer
light dancing inside words
five times a day
I try to write

step by step
I move towards the mihrab
I prepare to recite
what is in my heart

I recite your name

From Whispers Secrets and Promises (1998)


Buddha Weeping in Winter

snow falling on prayers
covering the path
made by your
footprints

I wait for spring
and the return of love

how endless
is this whiteness
like letters without
envelopes

From Buddha Weeping in Winter (2001)


I Am The Land: A Poem In Memory of Oscar Romero

I am the land.
I am the grass growing.
I am the trees.
I am the wind, the voice calling.
I am the poor.
I am the hungry.

The doors of the church are open
as wide as the heart of a man.
In times of trouble
here is a rock, here is a hand.

God knows the meaning of our prayers.
I have asked our government to listen.
God is not dead
and I will never die.

I am the land.
I am the grass growing.
I am the trees.
I am the wind, the voice calling.
I am the poor.
I am the hungry.

He who is resurrected is revolutionary.
He who is resurrected is revolutionary.
He who is resurrected believes in peace.
This is the meaning of light.
This is the meaning of love.

The souls of my people are the pages of history.
The people of El Salvador are the people of the world.

I am Oscar Romero, a humble servant.
I am the land.
I am all the people who have no land.
I am the grass growing.
I am all the children who have been murdered.
I am the trees.
I am the priests, the nuns, the believers.
I am the wind, the voice calling.
I am the poets who will sing forever.
I am the poor.
I am the dreamer whose dreams overflow with hope.
I am the hungry.
I am the people.
I am Oscar Romero.

From Whispers Secrets and Promises (1998)


Faith: My Brother Richard Returns Home From The Monastery

i was not home
my mother, sister and i
had gone to the store
only my father was home

how happy he must have been
to open the door and see
his first born

to give your son
up to the lord is one thing
to receive him back is another

i would not have been surprised
if my father had lived the
rest of his life on his knees
i knew how grateful he was

faith is the meaning of love
between men

From First Light (1994)


Fire

i am ten years old
and share a room with my brother.
at seventeen he dreams of becoming
a priest or monk. i am too young
to know the difference. in our room
the small bureau is an altar covered
with white cloth. two large candles
stand on each end. my fear of fire
begins in this room.

From First Light (1994)

Rosa Parks dreams

Rosa Parks dreams about
a bus in Jerusalem. A headless
woman sits in her seat. There is no
driver today. The top of the bus
is missing. On the road a line
of bodies segregated from the living.
They sleep against a twisted metal
frame. Wild flowers stare from
a field.

From How We Sleep on the Nights We Don't Make Love (2004)


Find more poetry from On Being on the Poetry Radio Project page.

Share Episode

Shortened URL

Voices on the Radio

is Director of the Afro-American Studies Resource Center at Howard University and author of two memoirs and many books of poetry.