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)

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Poet Thomas Sayers Ellis

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

 Thomas Sayers Ellis


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.

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

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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