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On Domesticity

by Mag Gabbert

          after Craig Santos Perez

just be you

-thful and play host

                    -age, just act

                    like someone who

          -le even if you’re a pie

          -ce of me

                               -at, just try to be

                               -have like a cut

                    -e little pet doe


As I’ve noted below the poem’s title, this piece is indebted to Craig Santos Perez, whose wonderful poem “Ars Pasifika” first introduced me to the form I use here. Since I first encountered that work, I’ve written a number of pieces that engage with and manipulate Perez’s technique. I suppose I feel especially drawn to it because it allows me to emphasize two things that I greatly value in poetry: play and multiplicity. Here, for example, even though the poem’s subject matter is fairly dark, there’s nevertheless a sense of play when reading it, since it requires a sort of constant reorientation with the language. And, throughout that jolting process, I believe the poem successfully performs something of what it describes—the addressed female subject’s process of disillusionment and objectification alongside her coming-of-age. These, too, are disorienting experiences, and my hope is that my poem expresses them in multi-faceted ways.

Mag Gabbert is the author of Sex Depression Animals, selected by Kathy Fagan as the winner of the 2021 Charles B. Wheeler Prize in Poetry. She is the recipient of a Discovery Award from 92NY’s Unterberg Poetry Center, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, Idyllwild Arts, and Poetry at Round Top. Her work can be found in The American Poetry Review, The Paris Review Daily, Copper Nickel, Guernica, Poetry Daily, and elsewhere. Gabbert has an MFA from UC Riverside and a PhD from Texas Tech. She lives in Dallas, Texas, and teaches at Southern Methodist University.