between two deaths, an accident

mary newell

Slid into on slick uphill turn.
Icy rain clots my hair
while I confer with the other driver.  
No respite there:
man without insurance
mumbling through sardonic lips,
his car cratered from old collisions.    

Trivial bumper compression
exaggerated affect spike                      
jagged amygdala plunge
fish hook twist expunging
tough memories stranded tight—
striated inflame, neural unravel…    

Stopped cold.

Ahead, around the bend,
guarding the forked ramp to the G W bridge,
a cop scrutinizes traffic in the drizzle.                         

I could tell him my story of
misconstrued commute—
I could enumerate minutiae—
but I’d rather tell a mother
who’d pat my back in sync
to muffled sobs, displaced                              
from another saga                    
still too raw to mourn.

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Mary Newell, Ph. D. lives in the lower Hudson Valley. She has taught literature and writing at the college level, most recently at West Point. Her poems have been published in Spoon River Poetry Review, Hopper Literary Magazine, Written River, Earth’s Daughters, Chronogram, About Place, Jivin’ Ladybug, First Literary Review East, and ther journals and anthologies. 

Dr. Newell (MA Columbia, BA Berkeley) received a doctorate from Fordham University in American Literature and the Environment. You can read her published poems at