Ours Was a Softer Kind of Landing by Beth Gordon


We believed this landscape would not betray,
cinematic sunsets haloing white
farmhouse and cornstalks, as tall as young
men, your cats running free across the road
and back without daylight danger, always
returning home before coyote hour,
high winds that cause old branches to grumble,
the haunted oak tree breaking your bedroom
window, its veined hands reaching for your throat
only to discover that you had fled
to the basement, your nerves frayed, uneasy
at the ribbons of rain that wrapped around
every stone or brick within your line
of sight. I tell you that the wilderness
reclaimed Ukrainian suburbia
after the Chernobyl meltdown, pregnant
foxes and winter wolves roam without fear,
that genetically modified soybean
exhibits natural immunities
to radioactive dirt, that thunder
heads and tornadoes have become common
topics of conversation, that I know
how to hide arsenic poisoning from
the forensic detectives in Osage,
MO but would be indicted in New
Orleans for the same crime. Beige homes destroy
our last corner of beauty and I am
leaving for the smoky mountains, this last
sanctuary now coated with poor-grade
cement, the once gentle road a gauntlet
for domesticated mammals, wild skunks,
afternoons of relaxation removed
with top soil. I tell you I am waiting
for the next disaster as I hold my
grandson’s blooming hand, guiding him around
an abandoned porch in a sweet circle
of splintered flight, that I no longer trust
meteorologists, pretty prophets
with ugly news, I scan the horizon
searching for God’s eyes, a voice louder than
schoolyard gunfire, a promise that this
caterpillar boy will wake tomorrow.



Beth Gordon is a poet, mother and grandmother, currently landlocked in St. Louis, MO. Her poems have been published in numerous journals including Into the Void, Noble/Gas, Five:2:One, SWWIM, Verity La, Califragile, Pretty Owl Poetry and Yes Poetry. She is the author of the chapbook, Morning Walk with Dead Possum, Breakfast and Parallel Universe, published by Animal Heart Press. She is also Poetry Editor of Gone Lawn.


First photograph by Vossman. Second photograph by Pink Sherbet Photography. 

Theology by Beth Gordon

ten commandments charm bracelet theology beth gordon

You were baptized in the river, your robe bleached
white as original sin. I wore black patent leather

shoes and memorized the books of the Bible
more than others and was rewarded with a ten

commandments charm bracelet of copper
covered with fake gold. You don’t want me

to say God damnit. You believe in the fire
of lake, River Styx and unnamed dead reaching

their skeletal arms to tip over the boat. We open a bottle
of wine and I say I once knew how to walk on water

but forgot the trick when I floated down a tunnel
into the light, arrived in this mortal coil, my skin

and organs too tight, doing my best to breathe oxygen,
acclimate to Earth’s gravitational pull.

I love talking heaven and hell with you, the difference
between people who collect hair and those who eat
their own fingernails like unleavened bread.



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 online and print 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, a journal of poetry and progressive fiction.

#GunViolence: Valentine’s Day by Beth Gordon

I was drinking mildewed wine while the bartender
sliced winter lemons.  Blood oranges and Key
West limes as bright as hungry frogs.

He changed the channel from slaughtered
students to coyote documentaries to digital
Korean snow. To children who always

knew they would be famous throwing
their beautiful bodies into the sky with nothing
but fiberglass and the breath of red-throated

loons to soften their choreographed landing.
He brought me a plate. He brought me
poblanos bursting with garlic and thyme.

He brought me a new glass of wine
because I live that kind of life. I wanted to wade
with the dead in muddy river water and fill

the new holes in their beautiful bodies
with rosemary.  With snow white lilies
and melted wax. There is not enough time

in frozen daylight to shed every necessary
tear and you ask me about love poems
but I give you this. I give you this funeral.
I give you this funeral song.

Valentine's Day into sky

Beth Gordon is a writer who has been landlocked in St. Louis, Missouri for sixteen years but dreams of oceans daily. Her work has recently appeared in Into the Void, Quail Bell, Calamus Journal, By&By, Five:2:One, Barzakh, and others. She can be found on Twitter @bethgordonpoet.


Featured photo of Sligo, Ireland statue to honor those lost at sea by Shay Sevenfold.

“Throwing their beautiful bodies into the sky” photo by Cat. 

chimerism by Beth Gordon

fresh-boiled bats exit the atmosphere hungry balls of sonar an endless Icarus
serenade crystal quartz and crystal water vie for room in a melting
womb the vanishing twin reimagines landscape compositions still life
with skeletal bears flocks of flesh-gorged vultures empty mockingbird
nests you say sand you say snow you say white swallows white with no hope
of flame of reunion at journey’s end you say they died of broken hearts I say
we will roam future streets frozen ghosts in frozen ghost towns we will search for dead things forever floating in jars if this was a list it would be endless



Beth Gordon is a writer who has been landlocked in St. Louis, Missouri for sixteen years but dreams of oceans daily. Her work has recently appeared in Into the Void, Quail Bell, Calamus Journal, By&By, Five:2:One, Barzakh, and others. She can be found on Twitter @bethgordonpoet.





Related Article: It’s so hot in Australia that bats’ brains are frying

Images via Wikimedia Commons.

Looking Away at Lambert Airport by Beth Gordon

Female twins, black-haired, arm in arm, like blind newborn
werewolves, identically addicted to meth,
disembark the plane
in St. Louis, walk into our square of terminal, so craven in eye
and mouth that we collectively believe
that when the moon
blocked our planet’s star for 160 seconds, fur began to sprout
between their talons, behind their knees,
spreading like poisonous
mushrooms, only to recede when cicadas stopped singing, when
sparrows fell from trees like petrified
bones, more arachnid
than mammal, they twist their cracked lips into utterings that only
the other twin can decipher,
and then only with
the aid of potions brewed from fresh anteater blood. Unmoved
by visible magic, we return one-by one
to our screens, like sedated
vultures waiting for someone to die in front of us, bubonic plague,
rabies, salmonella, something
riddled with bullets
and primary colors that we can photograph and share with our high
school classmates whose skin we
haven’t touched
in years or our online food-addiction support group as we browse
through 81 recipes for heavenly hash,
while eclipse stragglers
with souvenir tattoos and mildly damaged retinas scream obscenities
at their precocious children
who are using a gift
shop magnifying glass to aim the sun’s holy rays onto unattended
babies to see if they will
burst into ash.



Beth Gordon is a writer who has been landlocked in St. Louis, Missouri for 16 years but dreams of oceans, daily. Her work has recently appeared in Into the Void, Quail Bell,Calamus Journal, By&By, Five:2:One, Barzakh, and others. She can be found on Twitter @bethgordonpoet.