L. Lamar Wilson, “In the Lion’s Den”

This week, two poems by L. Lamar Wilson.


hip pads & girdled pecs
strap-ons & cock rings
cough syrup & syringes
ecstacy & viagra

all night long
we sweat patrón out under strobes
glow, sniff, pop, prick,
swallow, don’t spit out the seeds

bathe in rupaul’s orders
ape beyoncé’s buck
pimp tupac’s swagger

you better work, bitch
faggot, punk, bulldagger, dyke
uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh, oh, no, no
no, we are fearfully & wonderfully made
come get some of this thug passion, baby

when sunday silences
the lion’s den, we stumble
into holy pews & Amen!
news of our brimstone destiny

from the man we just saw
on all fours in the basement
moaning More, sir, more …

we weep as he reads
king james’ script
then leave & follow another script
handed down through 42 generations
running warm in our veins

lord, how oft shall my brother sin
against me & i forgive him?

endow us with a deeper love
like stephen—his last breath
amid the torrent of stones


Jesus, Jesus, Jesus … By the time I hear it,
I have passed the beggar by three long strides,
sashaying in my low-rise jeans like Tudda taught me
accenting the hips Mama brought me. I am bound
to bask in an estrogen sea at the House of Blues.
I think he’s talking to you, my friends tell me. Instantly,
I am wailing during midweek prayer meeting,
the church mothers’ cries lifting my petitions. O Lord,
I want to be like you. O Lord, I want to know your heart. O
Lord, I want your thoughts to be mine. None but the righteous
shall see God
, they moaned on those hot summer nights,
their savior some no-count man who ran off & left
them, making me want him all the more. Who knew
I’d find him here, prostrate, before me? How sweet
the sound now, this fallen soldier’s plea for penance
on this corner of Euclid Avenue, his insanity my salvation.
I am born again. Our heads crane, mouths agape,
both begging for communion. I cradle his grimy palms
& whisper words only he & I hear. Then I rise, put my arms
around my stunned women friends & make our way
to hear Floetry’s love letters. But what I should have told
the homeless man in Cleveland who mistook me
for Mary’s son is: I am not the man you seek. I turn water
into ice. I will never forsake my mother, will never
follow their Father’s edicts. I will kiss a man tonight,
but they would not call it holy. He will flay my flesh
with the tip of his tongue, & we will dance, then ooze
with the guilt I welcome, earnestly, on my knees.


L. LAMAR WILSON, a Cave Canem fellow, has poetry in or forthcoming in Callaloo, Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, Obsidian and Tidal Basin Review. “What I Should Have Told …” also appears in Mighty Real: An Anthology of African American Same Gender Loving Writing, edited by R. Bryant Smith and Darius Omar Williams.

Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths.