The Roll Call

By Thomas Sayers Ellis
Any half-decent rapper
Can conjure the dead,

Can reach into graves
And accuse God

Of Indian-giving.
The trick is ancestral,

No more magic than memory’s
Hidden strings & chains.

Trust me,
We haven’t forgotten a name.

Say them. Raise your hands.
Holler at me!

Thomas Sayers Ellis, “The Roll Call” from The Maverick Room. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Sayers Ellis. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.

Source: The Maverick Room (Graywolf Press, 2005)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Thomas Sayers Ellis

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

 Thomas Sayers Ellis

Biography

Thomas Sayers Ellis is the author of The Maverick Room (Graywolf, 2005) and a chaplet, Song On (WinteRed Press, 2005) and his interview with Bootsy Collins appears in Waxpoetics #18. He lives in Brooklyn, New York and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and in the Lesley University low-residency Creative Writing Program.

In April 2014, Thomas Sayers Ellis was a featured writer for Harriet.

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.