E. Ethelbert Miller

The Blue Years; When The Sky Is Upside Down: E. Ethelbert Miller


And then we walked out
into the rain as if we were walking
to the sea, so many weeping
because of dangerous memories.

Life is a flood of tears.
We were born somewhere
between heartbreak and desire.
The place we fled before the crying.

The blue years when we had
no food or water.
The blue years when many
were strangled by the air.

So much thirst.
Too much blueness on our tongues.


When the world slows
down I’ll pack a few things
and jump off.

No farewell or tears,
just a turn around a corner
and a wade into the sea.

I’ll forget everything.
Yes – everything I forget.

Gone- the first woman I wanted
not the last woman that left.

Dusk is when I sing the morning blues
and the sky is upside down.

My heart, my legs, no longer walk straight.
I’ve only known a crooked kind of love.

E. Ethelbert Miller is a literary activist, editor of Poet Lore, and author of several collections of poetry and two memoirs. He currently hosts the weekly morning radio show On the Margin which airs on WPFW-FM 89.3. In April 2015, Miller was inducted into the Washington, DC Hall of Fame, and in 2016, he received the AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature and the DC Mayor's Arts Award for Distinguished Honor. The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller, published in 2016 by Willow Books, is a comprehensive collection that represents over 40 years of his career as a poet. Miller’s most recent book is If God Invented Baseball, forthcoming by Long River Books in February 2018. To read more by this author, see the Summer 2000 issue, Wartime Issue, DC Places Issue, Evolving City Issue, Split This Rock Issue, Langston Hughes Tribute Issue, and Miller's essay on Sterling A. Brown from the Memorial Issue, and interview with Ed Cox from the Profiles Issue.