Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dark Matters, (Bad Moon Books), by Bruce Boston

Bruce Boston's work has appeared in hundreds of publications, including Asimov's SF, Amazing Stories, Realms of Fantasy, Strange Horizons, Weird Tales, The Pedestal Magazine, Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, and the Nebula Awards Showcase, and received a number of awards, most notably the Pushcart Prize, the Asimov's Readers' Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Rhysling Award, and the Grandmaster Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. He holds the distinctions of having appeared in more issues of Asimov's SF than any other author, and of coining the word "cybertext." His newest collection of dark poetry, Dark Matters, covers the full speculative range, from science fiction horror to dark fantasy, taking the reader on a nightmarish jaunt into the shadows.

For fans of traditional horror, Dark Matters contains such poems as "A Stray Grimoire," in which "your moving hand may pause/and descend upon the spine/of a book penned to decimate/the tenets of your mind," or "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Vulture," Boston's riff on Wallace Stevens, in which the speaker is "of a single mind,/Like a colony of vultures circling/A lone man in the desert" and the vulture itself "dreams/Of being shiny as a raven,/Iridescent as a peacock,/Spotless as a swan/Upon a pellucid pond." Boston's pages are plagued with assassins, torturers and zombies, ghosts and the voices of the damned, enough to keep the appetite of any horror enthusiast sated.

Boston's work also appeals to fans of science fiction. In his poem "The Oblong Observatory," "All the swayed myths/of the century's ascension/are misbegotten" and we "gather beneath/the grave gray ruins/of this oblong observatory/that reeks of the gods/of our unfailing obsessions." In "Robovamp," the "clich├ęd image/of a teenage boy's/rough libido at play" searches out men and "drains their life force/to power her own,/to fuel her fine form/and feed her stark mind." Boston is able to pepper his book with enough science fiction to keep fans of that genre equally satisfied, but makes the poems themselves dark enough to not stand out against the others in this collection.

Boston also delves into dark fantasy between these covers. In "The Faithless," "A great gray beast/of incertitude/comes stumbling/through the centuries/churning up corpses/and mud." In his poem "The Sizing of Curses," small curses are as "hard to track/as rats within the walls," but still "bite/and maim the child in its crib,/then fade like bloody smoke," whereas master curses slay "enemies abed/and scorch their lands with light." Fans of dark fantasy will find much in which to sink their teeth in the pages of Dark Matters.

Fans of Boston's previous work will also find comfort in this collection, as a few of his "people" poems punctuate these pages. In "Harvest People," "Sweet corn, tomatoes,/pepperoncinis and peaches/would live up to/their savory reputations" and "wine flowing/from our vineyards/would be a sense delight/in any vintage." Pleasant as these visions seem, Boston also conjures a world populated by Assassin People, in which "the slightest/indiscretion could/lead to a contract/on your life." and we "wake up/
each morning,/if we woke up at all,/with blood on our hands."

For those who have not read a collection of Bruce Boston's, now is the time to begin, and Dark Matters is an excellent place to start. For fans of Boston's previous work, Dark Matters continues his legacy of solid writing and will not disappoint. It is a spooky and chilling collection ready to shiver its way down the spine of readers, leaving only its tracks to haunt their dreams.

Visit http://www.bruceboston.com/. Buy it today.

Joshua Gage is an ornery curmudgeon from Cleveland. His first full-length collection, "breaths", is available from VanZeno Press. Intrinsic Night, a collaborative project he wrote with J. E. Stanley, was recently published by Sam’s Dot Publishing. He is a graduate of the Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Naropa University. He has a penchant for Pendleton shirts, rye whiskey and any poem strong enough to yank the breath out of his lungs. He stomps around Cleveland in a purple bathrobe where he hosts the monthly Deep Cleveland Poetry hour and enjoys the beer at Brew Kettle.

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