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Anne Marie Wells

It Was An Accident*

I learned a man I once loved died

three months after it happened.


His hair was wild like a blond werewolf when it wasn’t

pulled behind his head behind the bar at The Rose.


He’d start pouring my drink when he’d see me

walk in, even when hunched shoulders crowded


the countertop, huddled with folded bills waving like sails

eager to transport their patrons far away from the world’s


futileness, its nihilism. Several times I watched him leave

a lineup of shot glasses to mix my seltzer and lime, leaving


it on the end of the bar for me to pick up.

The library was holding a workshop


to learn how to write an obituary

and linked this wolf of a man’s


tribute as an example.


He had moved to California,

and I never noticed. No one


was going to bars in 2020. Not even those

who weren’t struggling with grief and sobriety.


He was working hauling lumber, steel beams,

and the like. Click after click I sought more


answers with my aspen-leaf fingers, and found

more questions. His semi floated right off the top

of the cliff. His body created a universe of glass

shattering the windshield on his way to the ground


before his truck landed on top of him.


He collected lamps.


Who found him? Who went to get him? Who dragged

the mangled metal off his body? Or what remained of it?


What remained of it?


What remains of him in my memory? I try and remember

every wink, every how are you? I think about that mane.


Had it ever known the love of a comb?


I found his parents in the Yellow Pages,

maybe. I wrote them a letter letting them


know a complete stranger thinks their son was wonderful,

and will remember his howling laugh the rest of her life.


I didn’t leave a return address. And I tell myself it’s because I didn’t

want them to feel obligated to respond. But, of course, it’s shame.


For making his death about me and my feelings. When I never

knew him. Not really. When I didn’t even know he died when


he died. I still hope it was his parents, though, and not someone who had never

heard his name. Maybe it would bring them a moment of joy. But if strangers


to him received my letter, then someone else would know this wolfman

existed, and for a couple of years, the sight of him lit me up


like the full moon in a Wyoming dark sky, like

an empty room holding a collection of lamps.


 Newsprint sky, the ceiling to a tunnel of green

 tones, cornstalks waving hello as they whisper


    goodbye. She squints, hypnotized by the yellow

    lines, daydreaming of the fields, if they might


       reserve one of the prayers each ear sends into the black,

       if they might use their spears as steeples, form an acres-


wide congregation to render her decrepit eyes white

again, could they possibly build a miracle out of


    Inadequate Materials.

You Asked Me To Write You a Poem About Coffee**

Baby, I love you like coffee.

Your morning face, warm in my hands,

perks me up the way the buzz of my alarm

never could. I want you to be the first

scent I breathe in, the first taste I swallow

when my eyes complain about the sun.


Baby, I love you like coffee.

Dressed in sugar, call you pretty names,

or strip you down bare and black. Take me

back to your origin story under the rain

forest canopies. Let my throat savor

your bitterness, trace the ring left

on the kitchen table with my tongue.


Baby, I love you like coffee.

And when we good, we so damn good,

and when we bad like cold dregs

from a gas station on the outskirts

of Albuquerque, Baby, I still want

that styrofoam cup filled to the brim.

Gulp you down to the grounds, let you

stain my teeth.

*"It Was an Accident" originally appeared in Voices de la Luna, 2022

** "You Asked Me to Write You a Poem About Coffee" originally appeared in The MacGuffin, 2022

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