cover image Manhater


Danielle Pafunda. Dusie (SPD, dist.), $15 trade paper (66p) ISBN 978-0-9819808-4-3

Lifting a page from Plath’s book of tricks, Pafunda comes out swinging in her fourth book with poems that tackle that other half of the parental nightmare, Mommy. “Mommy must eat,” she writes in the book’s opening sequence, because “every morning/ comes hard into the room and frisks you to death.” By stitching this infantile name to her own hem, Pafunda exposes the conflicts of motherhood: her lust and refusal to carry herself as a symbol of fecundity make for some frightening conflations. In the same poem where “Mommy’s brood wails,” Pafunda asks herself how long it’s been “since she had her hand/ down a woebegone hunk’s steamy front” and tells us with a grin that “Mommy’s fist is popping her frame.” For Pafunda, the body following birth is both a source of revelry and disgust, and she likes to welcome us in with one hand and warn us away with the other. “There is a pit,” she writes, “in which worms have grown/ as thick as my wrist.” A mother’s inner life in this book is rife with passionate ambivalence. (Sept.)