Anthropomorphisms


by Bruce Boston

Reviewed by Eileen Wiedbrauk


Each poem in Bruce Boston’s collection Anthropomorphisms begins with a simple premise: what if the world was made up of a certain type of people? Asteroid people, champagne people, star people, gargoyle people, golden people, harvest people, mole people, rat people—the anthropomorphisms go on. As poetry often does, these pieces meander between the realms of the poetic-realism and the speculative without stopping to distinguish between the two.

The kind of poetry I’m used to delights in the elevated if sometimes overly-obscure vocabulary coupled with devastating personal truths—Anthropomorphisms isn’t that kind of poetry. Rather, the language of Bruce Boston’s poetry reads not as cadence-heavy phrasings, but as prosaic sentences seasoned with line breaks. The thoughts track without overmuch work on the reader’s part and build to short bursts of realization, never over-wrought odes.

Boston uses this simple language to interesting effect, sometimes taking us into the unsavory world of imagining life as bugs—“If lice people / were the world / we would cultivate / vast fields of flesh”—then skipping back to consider the world entirely peopled by man’s best friend, “We would bark fiercely at strangers as they / would bark back in return.” Even creating the shiny dystopia of “Golden People.”

In simplicity can lie great wonder. Bruce Boston’s poetry proves this. On one page his work contemplates the lives of "Dream People":

If dream people were the world
we would inhabit a singular
consciousness that would
be pulled through one
inexplicable scenario
after another
like a goat upon a rope.

And then uses that same simplicity of language to break our hearts. In “Puppet People,” Boston writes of lying helpless, waiting to be given voice and motion, but more devastating than that: “Most of the time / we would not dream.”