Susan Scarlata on Danielle Pafunda & Animals Set Loose

Danielle Pafunda’s “Beshrew Upon The Fence” is as much a spell as a poem. In it, the speaker reveals the following:

This is how I get you to come in the yard. I set
the bees loose. I set the dogs loose. I sting the horses

and set them loose their eyes showing white.

Various insects and animals are set loose, and I include all three of these lines to show the enforced repetition of “set loose.” This term can be a freeing verbal phrase, innocuous even. Pafunda’s emphasis on “set loose” through repetition though, her concerted use of the term, is an absolute part of this spell and beshrewing.

We can picture all three things (bees, dogs, horses) being set loose and spinning out in crazed groups. With few details we can picture the potential depravity, the curse of the swarm sent to reek havoc, to force someone to “come in the yard.” Then the last phrase in the last line has the perfect amount of detail to fully demonstrate the curse here. The “showing white” of the horses’ eyes is subtly and specifically maniacal. The reality that the speaker has stung them adds an extra bit of menace and I can see the white in their profile as they whinnie and wretch.

Pafunda’s spells and poems within and around them are fully cast, and always inviting enough to keep reading.

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