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THE ANTLERED BOY: POEMS

Lloyd Abbey.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1984.
103pp, cloth, $17.95; paper, $9.95.
ISBN ISBN 0-88750-514-7; 0-88750-515-5.


Grades 11 and up.

Reviewed by Tony Cosier.

Volume 12 Number 6
1984 November


These poems are taut, spare, and full of anguish. Lloyd Abbey compares his poems to the threading of bones that will not knit.

His mind is blood-sodden: his is "the world of red." He centres poems on hunting, vivisection, and the slaughter of children. His red imagination colours what is not normally bloody: cleaning a house with a vacuum cleaner is compared to reapingówith a blade; clouds outside a window become men in pain. Sumacs bleed; the cardinal wears its blood. Eating is compared to a blood transfusion. A morning jog is an act of juggling blood.

Occasionally, in an erotic poem, Abbey pants in pinkish pleasure. Gentler still, he may lie beside a lover curled like a field mouse and hear the wind, thinking of the wind imaginatively as "horses made of air and water-drops/tossing their manes across the sky." "Night, Eleanor at Her Desk" is softest of all, couched with glinting limbs and dazzling stars and trickling laughter. But mostly it is a stormy ride, probing social injustices and family hatreds. The antlered boy of the title piece is doomed from birth. The many animals that the poet associates with are in trouble, caught in a trap, or hunted, or in the slaughterhouse. The only consolation for their suffering is a grim cerebral revenge: the curse of the whales telling the stars that man himself will come to doomsday; the vengeance of the fox that taunts a little girl into burning the house to the ground.


Tony Cosier, Confederation H. S., Nepean, ON.
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