Boudreaux has a dazzling capacity for sudden imagistic insights: “like plucking a camellia from a neighbor’s tree,” “turned paradise by twilight,” “a sultan with a taped wood fungo bat,” “a shot of bourbon/hush of evening.” These poems follow in the sidestroke of the wild poet Stevie Smith (“Not Waving but Drowning”), yet are also soothed and “entertained by angels” — a path opened by a quoted scriptural passage. Gold New Orleans jazz lifts as high as friends “high on a suspension bridge” and accompanies earthy celebrations, “like pulling gold bracelets/from their well” about a meal of softshell crabs. A book of flowers, blue gardenia and blossoming magnolia, a book of newborn bliss and compassion — this book is a bright braid to bring beauty down from its lonely tower.
A stylistic heir to the tradition of H.D. and William Carlos Williams, Boudreaux’s language is spare but evocative. Among the recurring features that characterize his poems, two stand out. The most immediately noticeable device is his use of line endings to deliberately create syntactical ambiguities (“a part wants out of this/entire seduction,” ‘the knock-knock bar/where you could toke/up conversation”). Then we encounter his astonishing metaphors. Because of the understated language leading to them, they take you by surprise. The sound of his maid’s bare feet on the wood floor becomes “a faint slapping of distant waves.” In a beautifully erotic image, “my wife’s hand/on the avocado skin, the seed purple, hard as a rope’s knot.” These are two of the many facets that recommend Beau Boudreaux’s poetry.
In Rapunzel’s Braid, Beau Boudreaux takes us through the thunder afternoons of southern desire all the way to the mornings of fatherhood. The lens is devotion to love and sensory detail, “I can’t determine beauty / strands everywhere,” and the place is always New Orleans, even when we hear echoes of time in other locales. There’s a formal delicacy in the couplet, the main device for these poems as they balance encounter with response. The poems go from fishing to champagne, from baseball to friendship, from love letters to the delight of a newborn son, always tendering us “more chalk / for the experience.” Boudreaux can make us taste reflection’s mood.