shame is a screen door swinging violently shut

Gabrielle Hogan
Selected for The Penn Review’s 2019 Undergraduate Scholarship—


i’ve heard about the man who eats boys
in the backseat of cars—we all have
learned to fear him, the weeping pustule.
i didn’t think i’d come to know him,
let alone share his blood—
shame is a dog, no,
it’s a man who beats dogs
& grinds their teeth into
powder. when i came out
to my mother, she told me
it must come from somewhere
a prison in kentucky, where my uncle
ate away at ten years for hands
on hips, slick from janitorial murk-
water, baptismal font
of the mop bucket, with a boy
of fifteen on his knees
but not praying.
shame is a hooked fish, no,
it’s a man who hooks his
finger under my tongue
& pulls it out. i’ve heard of girls
softening together
& i am one of them
& it’s not the same thing.
we are all the product of sex
or some lesser animal, a beast
with a mouth raised to haunt,
but my lover is my age
& she loves me & not with anything
around her neck. it’s not the same thing,
it’s not.


Gabrielle Grace Hogan is currently an undergrad at Bradley University. Her work has been published by or in Spiral Orb, The Diverse Arts Project Journal, the Academy of American Poets, and others. She is a proud St. Louis native, and plans on getting her MFA or becoming a flight attendant after graduation, whichever comes first. Find her at her website or on Instagram @Gabigail97.