Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The word poetry comes from the Greek poiesis meaning a making, a forming, creating.  Poets create worlds for the reader to inhabit, but for me as a lover of poetry, the poet has to not only speak to the intellect but the heart and soul as well.  A turn of phrase is nice, connecting the infinitesimal to the  universal is key, but hitting me in the emotional center is where I connect with poetry. 

Poet L. Lamar Wilson is a poet that writes with emotion and from personal spaces.  His work is personal and poetic testimony.  He brings the reader into and engages him on a most visceral level- the level of feelings.  Be the poems persona poems or biographical you feel for the voices within and share the joys and pain. 

photo credit Rachel Eliza Griffiths
L. LAMAR WILSON, a Cave Canem fellow, has poetry in Callaloo, Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, Obsidian and Tidal Basin Review as well as in Mighty Real: An Anthology of African American Same Gender Loving Writing, edited by R. Bryant Smith and Darius Omar Williams.  He also has a poem featured in the new book The 100 Best African American Poets, edited by Nikki Giovanni.  He is a PhD Student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 It Could Happen to Anyone, or a Letter to the Boy
L. Lamar Wilson

The man in the shack on the corner wants
to kiss you. He remembers when you jump-roped
better than most of the girls & prayed without
manly pretense, remembers how you mimicked
the church mothers—knees & body bowed, Lawd
—your genuine contrition for being broken
& breakable still. You always was too pretty
to be a boy. Come gimme some sugar, he says
& reaches out to kiss you on your cheek, but
his lips are thistles, his face a cavern of bones.
It’s World AIDS Day, & you are here to chronicle
his free-fall from engineer to blind man leading
the myope, to fevers that flash on & off like a switch
spooked by the God he calls great & merciful
with a smile. Your mother says his songs tore up
church services all over town like hurricanes
had done Old U.S. Road: dogwoods splayed,
naked limbs convulsing, rapt in holy water,
like the saints slain by the spirits he conjured.
You don’t remember him, so busy kneeling
at the altar of this you the mothers & sanctified brothers
could praise, who loved Shirts Against Skins
more than Bible study, loved tackling the most buff Skin
on the field, who always held you on top of him long
enough for you to feel him hardening against you
hardening. Gimme some skin, nigga, he’d say
& grin, as you pulled away, then reached to pull
him to his feet. This man doesn’t know the you
who dreamed of kissing the lead tuba player
but was too much of a punk or a saint or both
to follow his leer from the dais to the bathroom stall.
It could happen to anyone, he says, especially
when you love somebody. Make sure
you write that down. You don’t. Too
sentimental, you think, for a hard
news story, so you dig for the grit, for the who
who branded him untouchable. He smiles,
places one hand on his chest, gropes the table
for yours. You using protection with these boys?
His scaly palm grazes your keloid knuckles.
I haven’t, you know, yet, you mumble, happy
for once to be numb, glad you can’t feel the heat.

previously published on No Tell Motel http://www.notellmotel.org/
reprinted with permission from the poet.

L. Lamar Wilson
My nephew waltzes beside his father,
The man who was the boy who made Faggot!
A reason not to flinch. His neck a merry-
Go-round, our boy rears back, waves
His pointer in my face, jabs his other fist
Into his hip & wails: Watch yo’ mouth!

Watch yo’ mouth, Miss Effie White! ’Cause I
Don’t take no mess from no second-rate diva
Who can’t sustain! In my brother’s eyes, I see
The pain of remembering when I crooned—Don’t
Tell me not to live. Just sit & putter. Life’s candy
& the sun’s a ball of butter—& made him grimace.
I scan the wall of plaques in Mama’s den,
The remnants of home runs & aces that gave
Him hope then, all dusty now. Teeth clenched,
He smiles at his dreamboy & nods in disbelief.
Harrumphs. Lashes flittering, he offers me
The only penance he can: a sheepish grin.
We applaud & feign heartened laughter.
My nephew sees beyond the veil shrouding
His father’s eyes. Realizes this isn’t
How brown boys win favor. Searches
My eyes for answers. Mirrors
A sadness no song can shake.
–from Rattle #31, Summer 2009
Tribute to African American Poets
reprinted with permission from poet

Monday, April 25, 2011


In an attempt to highlight, if even a small way, poetry and the world as seen through the eyes of blacks throughout the African Diaspora, I will post a few poems by different poets.  Poetry has the ability to be at once seditious and tractable, , impersonal and personal; it moves mountains, soothes nerves, and can just puts the reader in a feel good "yeah, I know that" mode and does it better than most other written mediums. 

The first poet is Kola Boof. Kola Boof (born Naima Bint Harith) is an Egyptian-Sudanese American raised novelist and poet, once called "the African Garbo" by The New York Times and noted for the works Flesh and the Devil, Long Train to the Redeeming Sin and Nile River Woman. Boof is an activist and writer whose writing has been declared obscene in Morocco and whose life has been threatened more than once due to the nature of her writing and her provocative words. For a more information on Boof : http://aalbc.com/authors/kola_boof.htm

Black Beauty’s Totem

I wish to find the swell
of constant waters

…and the death of the locust night

I wish to find the anguished heart
of the blue blackened earthquake
and lay my monkish head against his
armoured chest.

To bless him with full, swollen lips
and behold his darkened portholes
drinking my softened flesh…oh, but yes

I wish to die as spirits then…


lost and swishing forever
deep within my purple folds

like birth and no regret

-Kola Boof, from Nile River Woman