A stirring collection of poetry by Kelly Boyker, I was riveted by Zoonosis (Hyacinth Girl Press), not just the language, but the fable-liked lyricism of each piece. There’s an intensity in each poem, monstrosities coated in beautiful language, deceptively gruesome. Take for example, “An Open Letters to the Developer of the X-ray.” “An African Chameleon crawled down my throat and lodged in my lungs. It was merely trying to contact its dead. Now if my body is placed between the discharge tube and the screen, the outline of a prehensile tail is visible within the shadow of my lungs.” Like the chameleon, Boyker’s poems will crawl down your throat into your belly, your psyche, the core of your being.
The eponymous poem, “Zoonosis” (which I found out means a disease that is transmitted between animals and humans) could be the perfect description of the thematic current that runs through the chapbook. The animalistic, the bestial, blend with the humanity of their characters.
“He nailed me to the floor and fed me
through a funnel. Later he bit my hand
and ran through the neighborhood,
gathering small rodents which he
assembled before me as limp fetishes.”
Boyker not only has a fetish for language, but stories of the strange, from “The Child Cyclops” to the “Royal Order of the Moose.” These are poems both terrifying and somber, words that’ll make you reflect on your own nature while being afraid of it.