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Made of Darker Fabric
BY SHELLY BRYANT I April 3, 2010
Eddy Styx The Book of Styx. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Sam's Dot Publishing, 2009. 62 pages.
Eddy Styx, the alter-ego of poet C. M. Mattison, is the perfect guide for the dark landscape The Book of Styx traverses. Something of a self-portrait of the poetic persona bringing the reader across this macabre space appears in the poem "Dervish," where Styx pleads:
Do not unwind me
in the palm of your hand
for though not evil
I am made of the darker fabric
which saturates the mind.
With an introduction like that, who can resist the company of such a traveling companion? (Not me... I'd be too scared to.)
Styx is a man with something of a problem — an intriguing one. He is obsessed with the woman he calls "the narcotic / I cannot live without." While she may be a mere "[s]ilhouette in the window," he longs to "taste the death / from [her] lips," thus becoming her "Liberator." As we journey along, we find our dark host stopping to drool over roadkill, thinking all the while of how it reminds him of her. Which might seem a little creepy, but is nothing compared to what is coming. We find, before long that Styx, in fact, holds the woman's heart in his hand, literally. The whole thing, according to "Sacrifice," apparently comes about when she is under a vampiric trance, but one that leaves her just aware enough to be horrified by her situation.
The relationship between Styx and his beloved is oddly moving, with dark passions shadowing each poem. Styx acknowledges that his obsession is something less than a healthy, robust love, writing in "Spindrift" of his lover's:
tingling taste sensations
of neurotic temptation
meant to ensnare
enslave entangle entrap
And the woman, with her "[t]raits of Delilah," apparently does all she sets out to do with those compulsive kisses, keeping poor Eddy as clearly under her spell as she is said to be under his.
The poems in The Book of Styx demonstrate a nice range, with "Osiris" especially standing out for its mirrored structure, pivoting on the fulcrum of "ASTEROTH, DIABOLUS, ASMODEOUS." Styx does a nice job in this work of reminding us of Nietzsche's warning about what happens to one who stares too long into the abyss. It would appear that ol' Eddy has had a nice long look, and has indeed become that at which he has gazed.