cover image Natural History Rape Museum

Natural History Rape Museum

Danielle Pafunda. Bloof (, $15 trade paper (82p) ISBN 978-0-9826587-5-8

Disturbing, refreshing, at times disgusting, this fifth outing from Pafunda (Manhater) does not stop with shock value; readers alert to daring extremes and experiments should gravitate to its prose poems and fragments, its takes on rough sex, its impersonations of animals (“Horse,” “Fly,” Stingray”), and (most of all) its attention to women’s bodies as sites of creation and destruction, sexual pleasure and its opposite, miscarriage and birth. Sometimes the poet imagines herself dismembered: “Out my hands, my legs splay out, organs, heart.” Sometimes she becomes a mythic force (like the crocodile in Peter Pan: “The womb, a tick tock, a shrapnel-bearing croc”) or a vivisected ghost: “Permanent prenatal nimbus,/ whack-skulled and coreless.” A bad guy gets called “history’s cockroach,” “dreg bug, coyly/ sluicing the grotto” in a kiss-off poem that also announces, “In the wake of most revolutions, a pug will yet be attached to your teat.” Halfway between prankish word salad and radical feminist protest, Pafunda’s language also lands her halfway between two much-noted schools of 21st-century poetry, Flarf and the Gurlesque. If Pafunda’s similarity to her peers helps her poems make sense, it leaves plenty of ways for her to stand out; thin strands of narrative (a kiss-off, a break-up) run through the volume, while its most resonant phrases (“Hammer-ended kissy face, I chap your coffin and bag/ your tootsies”) belong not just to the theater of cruelty but to the old tradition of insult poetry, by which invective combines with invention to let the offended speaker come out on top. (Mar.)