I first met L. Lamar Wilson a few years back, and he quickly won my affection. Among the first qualities I noticed was Wilson's admirable humility – at that point, he was returning to poetry after years spent as a journalist, so he had a rare combination of experience as a writer, but also a gratitude to be doing this particular work that many of us easily lose sight of. Wilson is a spiritual man, and a passionate one: he's often soft-spoken, painstaking in his speech, but has the kind of laugh that sets him and anyone nearby alight.
Wilson's poems clearly reflects his character. I love Wilson's sincerity, his flexibility with narrative and lyric alike, his faith, and the resonance of his desire. One of my favorite aspects of his writing is Wilson's capacity to help me feel: these are poems born of a love that runs very deep indeed - and a love, I suspect, that greatly benefits all his readers.
The poem below was first published in Cream City Review, and also in Wilson's first book, Sacrelegion, published last year on Carolina Wren Press. The photograph was taken by Rachel Eliza Griffiths.
Outside looking in, I cannot place you,
though your breath tickles the hairs
in my nose each night. They will not go away
no matter how often or how closely I clip them,
& you will not let me penetrate you no matter
how many times you let me penetrate you.
You smile in your sleep more than you smile
when you are awake, & I like to watch you
from this distance. This must be how mercury feels
deep inside the heart of this red & brown clay
beneath us: deadly when we taste its ruddy gray, slick-
hot as that planet closest to the sun, hidden
from Earthly view by that star that burns
all flesh it touches & eludes us all.
You are soil, like me. Roiled
& sullen, like me. Together,
we cannot bear fruit. O lover,
in this full moon light, teach me how
to hide inside the embrace
of three-quarter you,
you, full of me.
Sacrilegion, L. Lamar Wilson's first book, is the 2012 winner of the Carolina Wren Press Poetry Series. Wilson has earned fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, the Callaloo Workshops, the Alfred E. Knobler Scholarship Fund, and the Arts and Sciences Foundation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is completing a doctorate in African American and multiethnic American poetics.