When I Died Running a Red Light

By Scott Beal

they didn’t know my last thought

was thank god they weren’t in the car

that I thought of the times I’d cut off a Buick

with their bodies buckled in the backseat and seen EMTs

scrape up our wreckage on I-94

they didn’t know I heard their forks clink over crepes

in their stepfather’s kitchen

and saw sunlight on their faces

and I was so relieved that I didn’t feel

the wet steel where my bones should be


but I worried what it would be like for them

opening drawers in my bedroom

to find letters from a woman they’d never met

sex toys and lubricants         empty cigarette packages

and wonder who their father had been

would they read the poems I’d written about them

and be angry I hadn’t asked their permission

or would they feel like we were finally

having a real conversation


Scott Beal is the author of Wait ‘Til You Have Real Problems (Dzanc Books, 2014). His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in The Collagist, Chattahoochee Review, Four Way Review, SiDEKiCK, and other journals. He teaches in the Sweetland Center for Writing at the University of Michigan and serves as Dzanc Writer-in-Residence at Ann Arbor Open School. He co-hosts a monthly reading series called Skazat! in Ann Arbor.