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The Milky Body - Mari Deweese


With their ravening grace, these blood bright poems call echoes of their kindred – Sappho, Plath, di Prima – not as source but as sisters. Deweese understands the empty spaces between loneliness and desire and the sanctity of flesh as refuge. Her poems seduce. She speaks of “the most pure incarnation of human love,” and I believe her. Here is a masterful poet glowing in her power. Do not miss this book.

      Jeff Weddle, winner of the Eudora Welty Prize

Weight 5 oz

Read excerpts

Our clothes flung haphazard
across the cement floor
of the park pavilion
I lead you out
into the pouring night rain
waterslick bodies bare
and ready. We find
an open spot
in the middle of a mown
grassy knoll where the full
fury of the storm can be felt.
Nearby thunder not quite
as frightening
in the face of exultation,
I push my fingers into
the wetness of the grass and
root them into the ground
as you plant yourself
at the angle
of my acute body.
You stand tall
and erect and exposed,
both of us desperate
to feel that final
our spines.

Black Sheep

When my love began to rot,
and her sweetness lingered everywhere
like plums, black skin split
to let a swarm of flies feast on liquid
yellow flesh bulged out,
I began to feed her
bamboo stuffing.
I pulled the long white filaments
apart, so like the soft cloud
love she still Possessed,
weblike, watching It
float through my fingers. Then piece
by piece I pushed them down
into her mouth, cracked open,
and with my loss, I felt her,
filled her, by strange Taxidermy,
with my three bags full.


You’re either born
an old soul – or
you ain’t. After
seeing through
a thousand eyes,
a taint.
But, oh! To be
new, fresh eyes
blue, and wholly
to see
how change
is still a thing
to do.

Goddamn punks,
he said.
Goddamn kids.
He saw the bareback
imprint in the moist
earth, the indentations
on either side
so obviously belonging
to a weight-bearing
pair of knees, the smears
on the inside glass,
the knocked-over pots,
inhaled the lingering
staleness of an after-act
cigarette, and other,
darker scents, and he
was so wholly wrong,
because neither of us
are kids anymore,
we creep vine-like
towards middle age
surely, swiftly, and grow
much slower now
than when we were still
young, and bright,
before we were wasted,
so many times nearly
compost, before so many
lifetimes had passed
through our fingers,
before we even met.
But then again,
maybe he wasn’t,
maybe that crotchety
old ass was right, and who
snuck into his greenhouse
that night, and grew fast,
and strong, were two
things tired of surface
roots, sunless living,
that decided to sprout
new leaves and turn
our blooming faces
to the light once
again, like children,
breathless and
gasping for breath,
at the glass
that housed

About the Author

(Mari) Deweese hangs out in dark bars with loose morals and plays musical poetry with her band bloodlikewine, a collaborative project. In between the gin, the green smoke, and the mean reds, she manages to hoard pages of specifically crafted poems that sometimes end up in something as organized as a manuscript. Her first book, Kinky Keeps the House Clean was published by Nixes Mate in 2017. The Milky Body is her second work, to be followed by Series from (behind) the Vale, also from Nixes Mate.

Copyright © 2019 Mari Deweese

Cover photograph from the collection of Lauren Leja

ISBN 978-1-949279-17-7

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.

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