God Had a Body

God Had a Body

Jennie Malboeuf
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/07/2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-04724-3
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


This title is not yet available. You may pre-order this item and it will be shipped to you when it is available.

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.


"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

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents


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




Sacred Heart


The Meaning of God

A Figure for the Holy Ghost

Part II

The Country


The Leonids

Early Signs of the Apocalypse


Song of the Cock

Men in My Bed as Dead Animal in Dog Mouth

al Meal

Landscape Where I Forget My Father


Animals in Captivity

The Nightjar


The Giving Away




What the Eclipse Does to Animals

The Miracle of the Pigs

Landscape Where I Miss My Mother

Phobia, 1985



The Men

In the Myths



The Women

First Mirror

The Screwworm


Ode to the Cannibal

Man, Beast, Lion, Bird



Thought Inventory with Rorschach and Caesura

Letting Go

Topography of a Bird

Part III

Newfound Star System

Double Star—


The Godwit

To Begin With

Heavy Animals, or Frustrated Attempts to See God


The Hydra


The Gospels

The Lesser Water Boatman

Orgasm as Lapwing



The Quickening

Wedding Night



flying change

Strawberry Moon

Honest Signals

Reasons We Should Be Together

The Night We Decided Was a Day