"Wil Mills’ poems love to juxtapose the quotidian with the sublime, the gross with the transcendent. His poems are full of the stuff of daily living, and can be marvelously evocative of the physical texture of his own life, working as a boy on the parental farm, for example, or as a young husband building with his own hands a house for his family, but there is in the same poems almost always a reaching for meaning and significance beyond the momentary and physical. The place where, for most of us, the physical and spiritual (because the meaning Wil Mills reaches for is always, I think, finally spiritual) are supposed most memorably to meet is perhaps in marriage, and it is fitting that many of the most affecting and beautiful poems here are celebrations of marriage and of the poet’s love for his wife and children. This makes it all the more a matter for deep regret that this book is a posthumous one, but few poets are able to leave behind them such an eloquent and moving tribute to the life they shared with those whom they loved."

--Dick Davis

"In Arriving on Time, Wil Mills says that time 'is soft of hearing,' but his own voice — rich in sound and story, and still arriving in these masterful poems — sings loud enough to be 'entirely present.'  It certainly inhabits 'a part of the significance' that Time, in its mysterious unfolding, continues to reveal.  Like artists he valued — Audubon, Chopin, Bach — Mills tries 'to stop the flow/To feel the gaps' and to hear his own words 'making [Time] more infinite.'  His poems, like his life, were always working to build a church, to make 'a quiet place' where past, present, and future altogether, if not simultaneously, prophesy, enact, and fulfill the blessing of 'how it feels to be.'  May the testimony of his testimony never finish beginning."

--Jeff Hardin

"As the title of this posthumous collection of Wilmer Mills’ poems suggests, time is much in evidence in these poems. Mills’ poems were never fashionable, but well fashioned; never subject to trends and fads, timeless rather than timely — or rather, timeful, the way the rings of the tree are full of years, giving the carpenter a grain to work with and against. Think of those units — the foot, the cubit, the span — in which craftsmen once worked, by rule of thumb, how they were always proportioned from the scale of the human body, for human use, even if the work celebrated the divine. Wil Mills’ poetry is like that, made not born, the line measured twice, cut once; syntax well-fitted (well-fitted is what 'harmony' means, after all), and the whole, solid, strong—that is, sound. 'I’ll let my work build a winding stair/ In chapels of my singing.'

"Mills is sometimes compared to Frost, but he has not Frost’s stark bleakness; for him the corollary of time is not mainly grief but joy. There are moments here of virtuosity — sinuous sestinas that make you forget their iterations, monorhymes, sonnets schemed on identical words. He wears his considerable learning lightly, often in a shrug of etymology, and his wit flashing out surprises like a shy smile ('To keep their meaning from meandering'). He can have a bucolic sense of humor ('Jack Daniels in the Lion’s Den'). Mills does not strive for cool perfection; his is  a medium more warm and forgiving. 'Time,' he tells us, is 'soft of listening.' With aiming, he reminds us, 'it matters how you try to miss.'

"The word 'posthumous' has come to mean simply something brought to light 'after death' (meaning the death of the author). The original meaning in Latin was rather the latest, the last-born, therefore often a child conceived at the end of a father’s life, not delivered until after the father had passed on. I like to think of a posthumous book in this way, as of a living thing that inherits and extends the love from which it sprang, a 'life to end with.'"

--A.E. Stallings



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WIL MILLS, the son of agricultural missionaries, grew up in Brazil and Louisiana. After earning his BA and MA in theology from the University of the South, he worked at a variety of jobs, including carpenter, sawmill operator, and baker. He also served as the Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and as the Writer-in-Residence at Covenant College in Chattanooga. His poetry was published in Poetry, The New Republic, The Hudson Review, The New Criterion, and many other journals, and his debut collection, Light for the Orphans, was published in 2002. Until his death in 2011, he lived in Tennessee with his wife Kathryn and their two children, Benjamin and Phoebe-Agnès, first in a house that he built himself in Sewanee, then, later, in Chattanooga.