- The overview of Bruce Boston's collection is here.
- Part 2: Opening Poems
- Part 4: The U-Turn
- Part 5: The Harvest
- Final Part: 6: Circling Back
"In the Darkened Hours"While not his first Rhysling winner, it is his first in the collection. It followed a Rhysling winner from the previous year. It does not yet fully bear the earmarks of the Bostonian style. It nears. Mostly I suspect, this win liberated his style, given some lead way to dabble and experiment, which I will comment on more fully in the next post.
This may the poem the collection's title refers to, which may be a keystone holding up the collection. It states:
So you must travel aloneIt is traveling back to roots though where it is is not clear.
without weapons or maps
to the house of your father
We were given dreams earlier (see Part 2: Opening Poems), but the dreams gain a darker tint from the the title but also from the phrasing: "you call it a dream." Not it is a dream, but you call it that. It may not be. Also, the poem begins with the refrain, "So you are lost again", as if this were a previous, continuous if possibly unpleasant conversation picked up again.
"Three Evocations of the Mutant Rain Forest" and "A Missionary of the Mutant Rain Forest"These placed third and fourth in the Asimov's Reader Poll, so they had some popularity. More remarkable, though, is that these show more of the Boston style--his penchant for the unusual word and densely packed poetry, full of adjectives: "it swells like a gargantuan amoeba in mitosis" and "A poison rain/ of defoliants and excoriation falls in waves" and "they divinate its growth/ and foretell our changeling future." and "scattered shards of unthatched sky".
My favorite of the two would be the latter, wherein a missionary is forced to convert to the Mutant Rain Forest's deity of cats.
"The Last Existentialist" and "The Last Existentialist Continues His Descent into the Maelstrom of the Twenty-First Century . . . Contemplating the Death of Shadows . . . Suffering a Hostile Glance as He Moves along the Quay"I discuss "The Last Existentialist" favorably and in some detail here. I will just add that Boston re-paints the trope of Last Man as an absurd existentialist figure:
“Why?” he asks the butcher,
the baker, the man who mists
the vegetables with a spray
he suspects may contain
something more than water.
As the rest of “humanity”
rushes or jogs past him
"In the Short Seasons of a Long Year without You"A kind of anti-love love poem where the persona waits too long for his beloved.