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Poems by Antoinette Ellis-Williams

Dr. Ellis-Williams’ poetry seeks to shed light on those often forgotten. She amplifies our humanness in hopes of healing.

Here you will find a few pieces written by Dr. Antoinette Ellis-Williams.

A season of illness and death, pandemic, and rage and protest and fires and broken glasses and peaceful rage and COVID19 again, and allies and loss and hope and gain and police brutally and police solidarity and unemployment and Zoom and flattening the curves and essential workers and phases and rallies and chanting and virtual praying and masks and social distancing and toilet paper and Lysol and empty shelves and no meat and no dentist and homeschooling and stress and drive by parades and celebrations and not coming home to keep home safe and eating together and cooking at home and pizza and take out and chrome books and toys on the floor and sleeping on couches and artwork in kitchens and fundraising and graduates without work and put your button on mute and walking in parks and arguing about oppression and waiting in food lines and crying for no reason and confined at home and locked up in prison and cutting my hair at home and planning for the next season and afraid to go back to work and voting and registering and completing the census and knowing 45 will try to steal the election and wondering when will 2020 end while focusing on hope

"Run-on Sentence"


Behind her

army khaki camouflage mask

Did you notice her eyes?


stolen smile


by a parasite


Only for you to 

See her eyes. 


Did you notice 

The red veins

Tracks that take

You to her soul?

Travel along those bending 

roads and hills

Walk along heartbreak ridge 

Over by the river of

Trauma and shame

Travel along

Blood shot tracks 

Tired from carrying the load.

A soul heavy from 

Holding black bodies 

Killed in summer


Lying dead

In the sun on 

asphalt roads

for four hours.

I Can’t Breathe! 


Eyes searching for

Her missing daughters and

Sons. Vanished

Without a trace or so they say.


Look closer 

See her eyes

Did you notice them

Giving you the side eye?

The kind of side eye every

Black girl knows by

The time she is three.

They cut you with her pursed

Lips beneath the mask 

That says back the fuck up

Don’t think of trying me!


Black girls know how to survive 

Side eyes that will put a nigga in

his place

Side eyes that says 

don’t even try to sit 

Next to me on this bus 

‘cause I’m too damn tired. 


Her face 

you tried to erase

Behind that mask

Gag her mouth,

Silence her scream,

Only for us to see her eyes. 

But you forget 

her eyes are

Wide open 

Very much Alive.


Those are grandmother’s eyes

Squinting in the dim light

To put thread through

The eye of the needle 

But seeing so clear. 

Eyes reading from slave catchers Amazing Grace red hymnals 

Praying eyes

Jesus keep me eyes.


Those eyes wet from the tears

From a place no mother should know

She had to identify her only

Son’s body in the coroners 

Ice cold holding tank. Her eyes.


Those eyes have watched 

You take

$1.00 and leave me .62

She counts her change. It never 

Adds up. 


These eyes have watched

Countless Sunsets &


Watched babies take their

First steps

Watched lovers dance their

First dance.


Her eyes can spot

Love and drink regret

They are first hand witnesses 

To uprising/ surviving/ and yes 



If you want to know her

Behind the mask

Look in her eyes

Ain’t nothing prettier than





"Her Eyes"


What a tragedy to search for peace on a dark, smelly lonely street.

​What madness when a little girl seeks comfort of strangers under a concrete bridge.


What a shame when a sweet gentle boy runs away because you he turns a jump rope with a switch in his hips.


Why do you cry and wonder why your kids left home.


Why you shook when you beat them when they were stuttering trying to speak.


Why you lie when you say you don’t know why they left home.


Where were you when your boyfriend came in her bedroom.


Where were you when all they had to eat was in the neighbors’ trash.


Home ain’t all its cracked up to be.

Home ain’t safe

Home ain’t always nice.


Don’t force me to go home.

I’m missing and

It’s better than home.

“Home ain’t always nice”


God chose me to be a black woman.

​No greater honor than to walk in

My skin.

"Haiku #3"


One day you will wake

Up and you will finally

Meet yourself. She will

Be glorious

"Haiku #5"


There are days that you

Lose your footing from beneath you.

And then there are days

You are swallowed whole

And have no breather to


"Haiku #12"



  • "Burn Phase I: Origins and Activism" Installation Chapbook

  • “Black Gardenias: A Collection of Poems, Stories & Sayings From a Woman’s Heart” 

  • Featured Poet, Jersey City Book Festival, “Tales of Our Cities”

  • Poetry Reading

    • Harlem Book Fair

    • Military Park, Newark, NJ

    • Bowery Poetry Club

    • East Orange Poetry Café

    • Open Mics throughout the tri-state area

    • Women Speaks

    • Down at the ‘Rho

    • Montclair Art Museum

    • Newark Museum of Art Community Day

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