Microreview: SCORPIO by Katy Bohinc
SCORPIO by Katy Bohinc
Miami University Press, 2018
SCORPIO by Katy Bohinc peels us “like an apple”, pokes at us, lays us bare and ruminating on the world we’ve ended up in. “We’re all turning into/ Facebook mush”, Bohinc says (68), and I couldn’t agree more. SCORPIO examines our reliance on social media and technologies, toxic masculinity, Corporate America, the economic collapse of 2008, the “death of Democracy” and the current cultural tone of apocalypse:
Right now I’m too busy with the apocalypse that will never come
But that represents the horror of the future I can’t imagine
Because I promise you it will only disappoint us (61)
Bohinc’s speaker is often sardonic, heated, sensual, sensual despite an atmosphere of doom. “I want your faith in soft tones on the phone” (11). Technology seems inextricable from personal relationships in these poems, where the speaker longs to “trades frequencies” with a “you” (4). “You” even becomes interchangeable with a computer in the poem “The Center Vapor”:
I’m peeling the skin off your computer so I can see your computer
So I can see your moon
Night quivers heavy
With glitter and boas (43)
SCORPIO succeeds in dissecting the most distressing elements of our culture while observing too its lushness, its lyricism. Bohinc’s poems often move as song in their structure, as seen at the center of her poem, “Ohio”: “Save it for the hungry, fool/ Save it for your mother/ Don’t nobody so much as care/ About you goin’ under” (24). I am carried along by Bohinc’s poems, by their musicality and the breadth of subject: cubicles and bullshit meetings, hunting for truffles and swollen raspberries, “sweet havoc” (35) and “amniotic pink” (36) and towels for house guests and “the cinematic green fields” of Ohio, of the speaker’s childhood with its “sleeping bags and trampolines” (61).
While the poems in SCORPIO inspect us, undress us as readers, the poems themselves strip down simultaneously. “I am the poem soft and alone,” Bohnic writes (53). The reader, the speaker, the poem as soft and alone, as vulnerable in an uncertain world. Writing makes vulnerable the reader and writer, brought together in shared occasion, here, at the end of the 2010s, at a time of deep anxiety and distraction. This book is acute, skillful, and utterly timely.