cover image Theophobia


Bruce Beasley. BOA (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (108p) ISBN 978-1-934414-91-0

Beasley outdoes his five prior collections with this spiky, thoughtful, elaborate, sometimes scary, sometimes funny set of verse essays, riffs, and meditations on the idea of a Christian creator-god, and on ideas from evolutionary and molecular biology about how life comes to be. Beasley announces early on his intent to use all his vocabulary as he investigates theology: "The xenotransplantation/ of the vatic/ into the vernacular/ has been halted pending further/ investigation. All's/ serio-burlesque and subcelestial." Yet it's never just play: he wants answers, from divinity or from DNA, even if he believes that he will not get them, and so his variable, friable, unbalanced verse lines can morph into prayer: "Cytonaut,// oracle supplicant, read/ us & read us again." One long work describes strange creatures, called "extremophiles," who thrive in the hottest or deepest places on earth, "living filaments that fur the worm's back and feed/ off sugared mucus." Another page asks after the origin of death and the meanings of sacrifice%E2%80%94 "the knives are at my fatlings' throats." Careful, sympathetic attention will produce pleasure in Beasley's collisions between curiosity and doubt, as the newest oddities of the life sciences, and the oddest words he can find, crash into dark fears and grapple with ancient questions. (Oct.)