The Things in Black Men’s Closets

By E. Ethelbert Miller b. 1950 E. Ethelbert Miller
on the top shelf
of the closet
in the hat my father
wears on special occasions
it rests next to the large jar
he saves pennies in

his head is always bare
when i see him walking
in the street

i once sat in his bedroom
watching him search
between sweaters and suits
looking for something missing
a tie perhaps

then he stopped
and slowly walked to the closet
took the hat from the shelf

i sat on the bed
studying his back
waiting for him to turn
and tell me who died

Ethelbert Miller, “The Things in Black Men’s Closets” from First Light: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by Ethelbert Miller. Reprinted by permission of Black Classic Press.

Source: First Light: New and Selected Poems (1994)

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Poet E. Ethelbert Miller b. 1950

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Death, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

 E.  Ethelbert  Miller

Biography

E. (Eugene) Ethelbert Miller was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1950. He attended Howard University and received a BA in African American studies in 1972. A self-described “literary activist,” Miller is on the board of the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive multi-issue think tank, and has served as director of the African American Studies Resource Center at Howard University since 1974. His collections of poetry . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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