SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Road to Labelle, FLA by Beth Gordon

There is no mortician or used car dealer in the town

where they tested the bomb.  No place to bury bodies

without disturbing nuclear dust, Oppenheimer dead

from multiple cellular mutations. We move out of desert

towards hurricane memories and seashell swamps and she

tells me about the acres of land she will buy, the horses

she will count and name. We have nothing in common

but funerals and highways and she searches for cigarettes.

I wonder if I am wrong to be suspicious of grapes grown

in sand fertilized by heron hatchlings. Pirate’s gold. Purple

wildflowers shaded by Spanish moss. Azaleas and palm trees

search for April sunshine and billboards appear like haunted

ships in fog. Breast enhancements, injury law hotline, gun show

at the state fairgrounds. I suggest Clementine, Madeline,

Layla, knowing that she hasn’t slept more than three hours

at a time for the last four years. O Lord Make a Shepherd

of Me in this land of bone dice and my stepmother’s suicide.

I want to swallow salt and fiddler crabs, but I taste panther

and pig, the lovely buzzing of low flying planes. The wildfire

daydreams of insomniacs and horses and unexpected cows.


Beth Gordon received her MFA from American University a long time ago and was not heard from again until 2017 when her poems began to appear in numerous journals including Into the Void, Outlook Springs, Verity La and After Happy Hour Review. Landlocked in St. Louis for 17 years, Beth has taught several local writing workshops, and is co-founder of a poetry reading series in Grafton, IL. She is also co-editor of Gone Lawn.

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