It was the language that left us first.
The Great Migration of words. When people
spoke they punched each other in the mouth.
There was no vocabulary for love. Women
became masculine and could no longer give
birth to warmth or a simple caress with their
lips. Tongues were overweight from profanity
and the taste of nastiness. It settled over cities
like fog smothering everything in sight. My
ears begged for camouflage and the chance
to go to war. Everywhere was the decay of
how we sound. Someone said it reminded
them of the time Sonny Rollins disappeared.
People spread stories of how the air would
never be the same or forgive. It was the end
of civilization and nowhere could one hear
the first notes of A Love Supreme. It was as
if John Coltrane had never been born.
I met E. Ethelbert Miller many moons ago at Howard University where he was the Assistant Director of the African American Resource Center. He helped many of us with our term papers and always had a positive word to say. When I was a budding poet back in the day, he provided me with many tips on how to write from my depths. He is perhaps one of the most unassuming and self-possessed people I ever came across. This particular poem pretty much sums him up. It expresses what many of us feel about the world we live in today.