The Next Monsters by Julie Doxsee
Black Ocean, 2013; 96 pp
Reviewed by Rebecca Ligon


Beasts, blood, and bodies fuel Julie Doxsee's The Next Monsters. A rich, compelling collection of poems, Doxsee's book conjures Greek gods, holy relics, and macabre imaginings that drift between dreams and the waking world. Each section brims with vivid ruminations on love, terror, sex, and myth. Doxsee's lyrical lines weave a complex tapestry that dissects the word “monster” and transforms it into something living, breathing, and altogether captivating. Right from the beginning, Doxsee makes the reader a participant and witness to what follows. It is hard to resist feeling spellbound by each glimpse into the world she has created in grotesque imitation of our own. Like a fun house mirror, The Next Monsters warps and disorients the reader's perception of reality. Magical realism, at times twisted and sinister, is evident in many of Doxsee's poems, but in particular, “Monsterless”:

My soul fell out and fell straight down the stairs, then he half­-
smiled and I found a baby scorpion in his eye. The encounter
with my house is lovely today because I found, also, a smile
under the chair in the sunroom and my bruises disappeared,
after which I fainted because I was glad to be no longer
pulverized like a saint. In fact his eyes watched me until I turned
a higher temperature and vanished into the wall and onto the
slightest glimmer.

The prose structure of these poems lends to the eerie storybook quality of the collection. Violence accompanies visions of affection and reflections on personal identity. Lush natural images exist alongside stark depictions of the human body and its ability to give and receive pleasure, as well as pain. Doxsee's language intoxicates and reads like a haunting diary found in the ruins of a neglected paradise. The collection's greatest strength lies in its ability to transcend mere description and become its own sprawling, monstrous myth.