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Mag Gabbert

2020 Michelle Boisseau Poetry Prize finalist



a fully mature female horse

or other equine animal


the year I measured my body

with my dog’s locking leash

before cutting out pieces

from a black velvet spool


any of several

dark plains on the moon

which Galileo believed could be seas


from the Proto-Indo-European root mer

also seen in ambrosia manticore immortal

morbid morsel and remorse


the day a horse

broke its leg in front of me

then lay flat as a shadow

while my boyfriend raised

and aimed his father’s rifle


in Sanskrit mer forms crushes or bruises

in Persian man in Hittite to disappear

or vanish


the time my class took a field trip

to a Greek Orthodox Church

and I cried hysterically

beside the altar


Latin term meaning body

of water


when the priest told me men

were always made in God’s image

but girls only developed

into negatives


an illusory discovery or trick


one time I believed the word equine

meant aquatic


in Armenian mer forms dying

in Old English it’s murder


a bad woman or rabbit


at recess a boy once said I ran

as if my life didn’t depend on it


the well-known process

of training young horses

otherwise known as breaking


a she-goblin or incubus


in Greek to extinguish


the horse-headed Demeter

who was the goddess of harvest

but then

became the goddess of grief

Mag Gabbert.jpg


Mag Gabbert holds a PhD in creative writing from Texas Tech University and an MFA from The University of California at Riverside. Her essays and poems can be found in 32 Poems, Pleiades, The Rumpus, Thrush, The Massachusetts Review, Waxwing, The Pinch and many other journals. She is the author of Minml Poems, a chapbook of visual poetry and nonfiction (Cooper Dillon Books, 2020), and she’s received poetry fellowships from Idyllwild Arts and Poetry at Round Top. She teaches creative writing at Southern Methodist University and serves as the interviews editor for Underblong Journal.

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