Mag Gabbert


Because every man I’ve ever slept with has wandered off to have kids, 
but later fucked me again.

Because I can’t seem to pick a religion.

Because, during sex-ed, my teacher showed us a little box with an open 
slot on her desk, told us to write down our questions and slip them in. 

Because the first note read: Does sex really make women scream?

Because the ancient Greek word tragōidía, which meant “goat song,” 
somehow turned into the modern English tragedy. 

Because my dad’s nickname for me is “smelly.”

Because for a long time I heard bleat as bleed.

Because this song is sweet. It is sweet.

Because God told his people to bring him two goats; he said they should 
give one their sins and let it go, and they should slit the other’s throat.

Because my brother claims he needs a new razor for “manscaping.”

Because childless mothers are called nannies.

Because Jesus won’t help me.

And one night, when a friend and I were fifteen, we took a late train 
to a faraway party, and a man approached us, whispering, Would you 
rather be stabbed or sliced? 

Because hell is an animal with other animals inside it.

Because every choice I’ve made involved sacrifice. 

Because I’m always the one that got away.

Mag Gabbert is the author of SEX DEPRESSION ANIMALS (Mad Creek Books, forthcoming in 2023), winner of the 2021 The Journal Charles B. Wheeler Prize in Poetry, which includes the works published here. Her poems can also be found in 32 Poems, Pleiades, The Paris Review Daily, The Massachusetts Review, Waxwing, and elsewhere. She has a PhD from Texas Tech University and an MFA from The University of California at Riverside; she’s received poetry fellowships from Idyllwild Arts and Poetry at Round Top; and, in 2021, she was awarded a 92Y Discovery Award. Mag teaches at Southern Methodist University and serves as the interviews editor for Underblong Journal.