cover image Scared Text

Scared Text

Eric Baus. Center for Literary Publishing (Univ. of Okla., dist.), $16.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-885635-18-1

Like the prose poems of Baus’s previous collections, the paragraphs of this third book are slippery, surreal, haunting and entertaining. “Approach the smallest ghost after he has turned his back. A buzz of definition surrounds him. This is the sting of the fleeing beetle,” he writes in the opening poem, “Glass Ear,” showing his penchants for archetypal imagery, the rhythms of fables, and prose sentences that are nonetheless musically attuned. Other pieces spin fragmentary tales featuring hazily defined characters at the mercy of skittery syntax: “My brother returned from the burned-up hills. He contracted a different voice.// Whenever I asked him a question, he branched. He woke up outside his breath.” Baus (Tuned Droves) also invents a character called Minus, who appears throughout many of these pieces, ever referring, like the characters in the fiction of Ben Marcus, to the lives and implications of words: “Minus’s speech returned to worms.” This is a haunting continuation of the work Baus has been doing for years. (Jan.)