Alpha Ruins

Charles Borkhuis, Author Bucknell University Press $19.95 (112p) ISBN 978-0-8387-5442-9
Picking up somewhere within the fifth section of the ""Waste Land,"" Borkuis's poems pick through deserted contemporary landscapes where the dead and living intermingle with a chilling ease: ""details drain/ little lights into people/ now and at the hour of our recycling/ rain grows upwards/ in trails of transparent veins/ that cool and cluster into floating cities."" With an even tone reminiscent of Robert Duncan and Michael Palmer, though without their formally variety, the poems of this fourth collection insinuate themselves into the breathy alleys of the city, the between-moments of thinking, and the fissures of existence. At times, the poems move somewhat near William Gibson's hallucinogenic melancholy (""lost secrets live echoes/ particle-currents in the veins/ whispers while you write// peeling back the skin// or turning a page/ landscape with friends standing/ on a hill of yellow leaves""); at others they actively recall the high surrealist tradition, drenched in urban phantasmagoria. The surreal tone is most effective when anchored by recognizable imagery from contemporary life and moments of humor, as in the dark but playful ""Slice of Life"": ""to open the cover of a book to find/ a miniature author inside/ asleep in his coffin/ dressed as a ghost/ carries a rubber hatchet."" With the rise of neo-noir stylistics and cyber culture in film and science fiction, not to mention in everyday life, Borkhuis's poems may have finally found their moment. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/18/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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