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

At Gossip the Lesbian Bar

expect to run into at least six or seven exes.
maybe some girls who wouldn’t dare call you

an ex, not even to make someone jealous.
it’s easy to tip the scales

when your stomach is heavy with secondhand prayer.
what’s that in the blonde’s mouth?

it shimmers like liquid mercury—
only here, none of us has the chance

to rise. they want you down & out
& on the prowl. Gossip, home of the

three-finger pour & finger-me Fridays,
looks like a home if you were born

where gravity forgets to breathe.
I’ll take something I regret for 1,000

we say to the bartender, her hair
short & wavy beneath her snapback.

we give the straight couples the side-eye,
the you-could-have-gone-anywhere-else face.

we fight about what it means
to be inclusive when oppressors crowd

your space. in Gossip, everyone’s smiling
but no one’s happy. we dip our noses in

our beer, we do the bro lean, we do the
head nod. in ten year’s time we don’t want

to still be drinking here but for now, we don’t have
any reason to resist the plunge. in Gossip, we break

our own hearts & pretend to like it. we grow
a million hands & point them every

which way. our own ancestor clocks gone
haywire. the lights turn down low.

we are at once turned off & turned on.
they say that lesbians want to pair up,

that when two women get together
they’re twice as dramatic, three times

as emotional—but I’ve been here since nine
& haven’t seen a single emotion

that didn’t have a gag in its mouth.
in Gossip, there are no undercover cops.

in Gossip, we aren’t afraid for our lives,
but that doesn’t stop us from

calling tomorrow an indecent fantasy.
we hate to consider what shape we take

in someone else’s memory. our exes aren’t
very forgiving & who can blame them?

these bashful desires aren’t so bashful
anymore. it’s terrifying to be a person

when the whole world’s watching.
a regular vomits in the bathroom, another

in the trash can behind the bar, another
in the plant out on the patio. we dig into each other,

hoping to come away with a set of blueprints.
or at the very least, evidence of our disconnect.

what can we say? disappointing ourselves
is our favorite way to delay the responsibility of joy.

two-for-one drinks. swipe & swipe & swipe
& edit bio & upload new pic & curse Tinder &

anyone who has ever used it. what is the use
of earnestness? no one here can say for sure.

the sky outside is black & blue like my knuckles
back when I punched that dude for hitting

on my ex-girlfriend. ask anyone in here & they’ll say
that they want something real but when you ask

what constitutes real, all you get are puffs of smoke.
in the early mist of morning, we crawl from Gossip’s depths.

we blink at all the tiny cars & monstrous clouds.
when the sun comes up, we wait for something

extraordinary to happen. for something to justify our cagey hearts.
one by one, we become our own emergencies.

Marisa Crane is a queer, non-binary writer whose work has appeared in The Rumpus, Hobart, Wigleaf Top 50, and elsewhere. She is the author of Our Debatable Bodies (Animal Heart Press, 2019). Originally from Allentown, PA, she currently lives in San Diego with her wife.

Before the Fly Settles