Chris Tusa,
Haunted Bones
(Louisiana Literature Press, 2006)

Have you ever been haunted by a face, an idea, a place or an image that is disturbing yet beautiful?

Haunted Bones is like that. It tackles the big fears of our lives -- our cancers, our worries, our children, our selves -- and slices them up and serves them on a platter of beautiful words and phrases. One of the first reflexes is not to reach for the morsels, a voice from deep inside says "Don't touch that. It's better left alone."

But Chris Tusa fully rejects that idea, and little by little he draws you in to read, listen and maybe even talk about the evils of the world. The pain, the cruelty, but the beauty that can be found as suffering sits on our doorstep.

The poems are earthy, real, hauntingly real, like the title indicates. There are lots of outdoor images: "thunderclouds spilling over the horizon," "after the leaves had finally gone and only stars clung to the branches of the trees" and "the sound of black oaks crackling beneath clumps of snow."

These words only tell part of the story; in each poem there are words with threads hanging innocently that suddenly rise up to lasso your heart or wrap around your tiny nerves under your skin and jerk them tight to quiver remaining in your memory, remaining in your bones.

The book takes you places you don't want to go but where you know, somewhere deep inside yourself, that you could be any day.

review by
Virginia MacIsaac

4 August 2007

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