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Wells


In Bushnell Park there are only a couple
          of statues & while I knew
who Minerva was I wasn't sure
          about Horace Wells & I wanted
to know because the plaque underneath
          him says The Discoverer of
something I couldn't see & I didn't
          think anyone in Hartford
had ever discovered anything except
          for guns & drugs & when I looked
him up I found out I was
          right because the thing Horace Wells
discovered was anesthesia at some
          kind of show where
a bunch of people inhaled nitrous
          on stage & then ran around like idiots
& when one of them hurt his leg
          he kept running & seemed to feel
nothing & Wells who was a dentist
          thought maybe he could use this
so he got some nitrous & put himself
          under & had a tooth pulled without
any pain, which he thought
          would make him famous so he went
to Boston to put on an exhibition
          & called someone out
of the crowd to go under but
          the man didn't breathe from the bag
long enough & felt
          Wells pull & screamed & everyone
heard it & no one else would volunteer
          & no one wanted to believe
Wells except for William Morton
          who stole the idea using ether instead
of nitrous & got patients
          & patents & a job at Harvard & maybe
Wells never knew it but credit in the books
          goes to Morton or maybe he did
know it because Wells sold his practice
          & left his wife & went to New York
where he went mad & went to jail
          for throwing sulfuric acid at prostitutes
& in his cell inhaled chloroform from
          a rag & cut open his groin vein
& died & the only people now who think
          he discovered anything are some people
in Hartford who can't read
          the sign & probably don't care what it is.


Samuel Amadon

The Hartford Book
Cleveland State University Poetry Center


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