God Had a Body

God Had a Body

Poems
Jennie Malboeuf
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/07/2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-04724-3
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The mind and the body. The heavens and earth. God and animal. The speaker in God had a body considers how the image of a higher power is presented to her, beginning with a Catholic upbringing in Kentucky. Speckled with stars and peopled with creatures, these poems employ a trinity of sequences that address a present, past, and possible future—from a troubled reckoning with belief to loss and promise still ahead.


In this debut collection from Jennie Malboeuf, we observe undercurrents of violence and power, the dynamics of memory, gender, marriage, and miscarriage. At times, God is brutal. At times, delicate. Through true stories of animal savagery, God had a body unravels human behavior and undoes the opaque and cryptic mysteries of faith.

Author Bio

Born and raised in Kentucky, Jennie Malboeuf received a BA at Centre College and an MFA at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her poems have appeared in the Gettysburg Review, VQR, the Southern Review, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, David, and dog, Mavis. She teaches writing at Guilford College.

Reviews

"Salient and provoking, sensuous and cerebral, Jennie Malboeuf's poems locate holiness in the living, dead, partial and whole creations of this planet: among them a "cow's eye...so pretty I squinched hard/and wished it back to the socket"; a "redback spider [that] throws himself/into the hollow fangs of his beloved..." ; a dead whale whose "mouth hung open/like a friendly doorway," until "...that certain scent of ending... makes the human fantasy of welcome clear." Yes, we are like the animals—whether tiny or enormous—but make no mistake: they are themselves, worthy of our attention and our reverence, rarely reflecting us. As Malboeuf puts it, "the birds we kept/in cages fought any mirror." The poet laces her observant news of these encounters with a biblical re-envisioning, as well as with her own peculiar wit: for example, in "The Cow's Eye," Malboeuf notes that "Daddy picked it up from the stockyards... He said it'd help with my science project." In another encounter, the speaker's father has a run-in with a mosquito: "at the height of an anecdote, a mosquito, a female,/flew inside his head." The humor there is spiky and profound. At the doctor's office, the daughter gets to see "the mold of hot wax they poured to pull her—preserved in flight—right out." In "The Hydra," that organism is described as "a penis-shaped creature with a spider/topping its head." This poet thrives amid and among other bodies, observing, feeling, and listening, trying very hard not to cut life short or diminish its sacredness with fallible descriptions, while acknowledging with her striking wit our human-centric eye. I relish these poems and will return to them for their stories, their humor, and the ways they intertwine language and life."


Lisa Williams, author of Woman Reading to the Sea

"There is a fierce spirituality and mordant wit in God had a body, Jennie Malboeuf's first book of poems. Here is a poet with a transformative vision of divine and earthly enterprise as well as a sharp eye for the repercussions of physical detail.  Malboeuf's use of enactments and embodiments—actions and images—startle and awaken the reader to a powerful new voice in American poetry. What a glorious debut collection."


Stuart Dischell, author of Children with Enemies

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments



The Godhead


Part I


First Death Ever Filmed


Christ is a Great Blue Heron


The Cow's Eye


Animals in the Bible


Frog Gig, 1983


Some Things Have Been Heard Enough


Grackles


Wilding


Ruth


Sacred Heart


Animals


The Meaning of God


A Figure for the Holy Ghost



Part II


The Country


Orrery


The Leonids


Early Signs of the Apocalypse


Zoonosis


Song of the Cock


Men in My Bed as Dead Animal in Dog Mouth


al Meal


Landscape Where I Forget My Father


Blindfold


Animals in Captivity


The Nightjar


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The Giving Away


Repletion


Snakehandling


Fear


What the Eclipse Does to Animals


The Miracle of the Pigs


Landscape Where I Miss My Mother


Phobia, 1985


lullaby


Grandmothers


The Men


In the Myths


Kingdom


Hubris


The Women


First Mirror


The Screwworm


Mnemonics


Ode to the Cannibal


Man, Beast, Lion, Bird


God-man


Inscape


Thought Inventory with Rorschach and Caesura


Letting Go


Topography of a Bird



Part III


Newfound Star System


Double Star—


Orbs


The Godwit


To Begin With


Heavy Animals, or Frustrated Attempts to See God


Immolation


The Hydra


Eschatology


The Gospels


The Lesser Water Boatman


Orgasm as Lapwing


Erection


Valentine


The Quickening


Wedding Night


Elfland


Nesting


flying change


Strawberry Moon


Honest Signals


Reasons We Should Be Together


The Night We Decided Was a Day