Lora Bloom’s new chapbook from Blood Pudding Press, Poking Through the Fabric of Light That Formed Us: Songs and Stories to Read in the Mirror is not for the faint of heart, or the faint of stomach. This is a place where undigested noodles, burps, projectile nausea, and chunks of eyelids are deemed normal, and things most often deemed beautiful are viewed in a new, less favorable, often ghastly light. This collection is filled with things grotesque and horrific but still captivating. In the poem “Remember,” for example, the sun “heaved its dry spew” and “bloodied itself on the earth’s rocky crags’ and in “Pizza Maker,” moons are “battered” “bloody” and “slaughtered.”
Certainly, like a slasher film or a Stephen King novel, the images in this book can be chilling. (It is difficult for me to read “Clown Girl” without thinking of Stephen King’s classic tale It, though admittedly, this may be a personal bias because of my lifelong fear of clowns). Still, no one will argue that many aspects of Poking Through the Fabric of Light That Formed Us are definitely disturbing. It could be said, for example, that “Green Frog Princess” depicts a rape scene, and indeed, the poem “Mused” conjures rape directly, beginning with the line “And if I rape you, my teacher, my muse.”
Not surprisingly, Bloom’s book shares many traits with Poisonous Beautyskull Lollipop, the most recent work by Juliet Cook, the editor of Blood Pudding Press. It is not uncommon for an editor to be drawn to works that are similar in style to his or her own. Both books unquestionably fall into the gothic sublime genre, experimenting with the strange and bizarre. Both explore the body; both are attracted to food-centric images; both books are not fazed by the forbidden.
However, Bloom’s chapbook incorporates more of the ordinary, the everyday—things some people may consider “un-poetic.” In “Mused” for example, the speaker addresses "my worthy worthy adversary/the other half of the best friend necklace." In “Unanswered Question” the narrator likens herself to a Polaroid camera; in “Pizza Maker” the scenes we witness unfold in a pizza kitchen, while other poems mention siren songs, “lost-soul blues, lost-soul lights” and “frenzied hearts. “ These associations with the commonplace may grate against some readers, while others may be consoled by these comfortable allusions when faced with the shocking landscape of the rest of the text.
As jarring as Bloom’s book may be, the author is fearless in her willingness to explore territory that is left untouched by many poets. In the end, I am engaged because of Bloom’s surprising turns of phrase. The car lights that “rise like eyes” and the “cloudy shroud of light refracted skinlike” are lines that will be hard to forget.