4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
My Groans Pour Out Like Water is a beautifully sad book of poetry born out of Frances Bloom’s personal grief at the loss of her spouse, best friend and childhood sweetheart, Jacob Dante Boraggina. The poems in this volume become such a wonderful tribute to love that readers will be mesmerized by the tumultuous intensity of the emotions and feelings ranging from pure erotical desires to utter despair. Mainly lamenting the loss of the beloved, the almost 100 poems also celebrate the genuine communion between two kindred spirits and even acquire an existentialist dimension when asking questions about the meaning of life and death. The free-verse style is the best choice Frances Bloom could have made to reflect the often maddening and suffocating overflow of her heart. Her book touches the soul and all those who loved and suffered will find themselves in her brutally honest lines.
Although this is Frances Bloom’s debut volume, soon her lyrical voice gets easily recognizable. There is no capitalization for titles or beginnings of lines as it would have only spoiled the natural flow of the text. The enjambment genuinely allows for her thoughts and feelings to run wildly from one poetic line to another. Symmetrically crafted into three sections, the book is written in a simple language, but does make use of a powerful symbolism and striking imagery. A piercing outcry for help, it is also strangely comforting and alleviates the pain by plunging into the very depth of the human heart and pleading for understanding and acceptance.
The first section of the book (34 poems) describes the alienating impact of loneliness, the irredeemable sense of loss and the paralyzing confusion following the disappearance of one’s soul mate. Visual images related to nature and specific places in West Texas Hill Country bring a regional touch to the poems. However, the localized references to “the big bend country”, “huntsville”, “crowder mountain”, “tennessee river”, “sipsey fork river”, rio grande” or “south tuscalloosa country” only add originality and uniqueness to the lyrical text. Besides, everything is projected into universalization by the power of pain transcending any strict geographical boundaries. The entire section is pervaded by what the writer herself calls “millennial blues.” My favorite two poems are “I lie here” and “september.” If the former uses obsessive repetition to highlight the perpetuation of grief (“I lie here/not wishing I were dead/not wishing I were alive/but wishing I had never existed/for then I would never know/the suffering/that settles under the sun.”), the latter speaks of the collapse of the world being preferable to the excruciating pain (“life has kept moving,/and the rivers of sorrow/that carve/through the/canyons in my bones/are invisible to all. even you.”).
Caught in a world of shadows and darkness, the grieving lyrical voice tries to make sense of the new reality, hence the biblical references and the rhetorical questions addressed to an silent divinity in poems like “with bated breath”, “my groans pour out like water” or “in ruins.” She feels lack of direction and no control of her body, longing for “companions of the woods”, but realizing she is “in the land of no weather.” From time to time, there are lines written in italics suddenly revealing an outburst of suffering that moved me to tears (“goddammit this hurts”, “I have lost my will to live”, “I am so alone”, “please”). Last but not least, the poet’s versatility is visible in the unexpected transition from nature metaphors and the allegories of fire and water to the description of an urban environment supported by a raw vocabulary that cuts through the skin and exposes the untreatable wounds.
Despite the fleeting glimpses of light, the second section (33 poems) still relies on the same sorrowful mourning. Isolation brings along self-loathe, diving into booze, pills or drugs and thoughts of suicide. With no hope for the future, the mourner is trapped in a state of in-betweenness (“freight train blues” or “waiting to die”) and reality becomes a blurr (“when I fall into daydreaming”). The Life is a Dream theme is recurrent in all sections reminding me of Pedro Calderon de la Barca’s play. I particularly enjoyed the erotic poem “death is not stronger than love” in which the perfect sensual union of bodies reaches a mystical dimension. The poem “ode to weltschmerz” embodies all the depressive undertones of the book and is reminiscent of the great Romantic poets like Lord Byron, Alfred de Musset, Lermontov or Heinrich Heine.
The last section (29 poems) is climactic in terms of resignation and withdrawal from the world. The rejection of the comforting role of nature (“nature went/from sacred/to something/I shrug at.”) is accompanied by a defying revolt against divinity (“the prayers/of the saints/do me/no good,/not sure/they ever did.”). The vivid imagery of rotting and disintegration like that in the poems “waste of space” or “rider on a white horse” gradually slips into an overwhelming weariness expressed by the one or two-word lines (and/I sure/ain’t/sure/why/I even/bother/getting up.”).
I am giving this book 4 out of 4 stars simply because I believe Frances Bloom did an incredible job of artistically transfiguring the traumatic tragedy in her life and sharing it with all those who passed through similar experiences. The interior rhythm of her poems, the simplicity of the language and the sincerity of the lyrical confession will definitely appeal to a wide range of people who are fond of reading poems that spring from the heart and sing of the blues.
My Groans Pour Out Like Water
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Like cristinaro's review? Post a comment saying so!