Charles Kell: Two Poems


Thought it was the lion’s mouth split
Thought I grabbed hold of the honey-
comb writhing with a thousand bees.
That the dirt thrown in the air
from my heavy shovel was the pater noster.
Each muscle twitch under a sick tree
some other sign of penance.
Not the word written in rock with a sharp,
white fingernail.
Not a small shed built from bricks
used to house thirteen bales.
Each turn another notch in the moment’s
thick leather.
Each glass bottle uncovered in the sand
holding a blue oil cloud.
Each keloid scar housed on my back
pulsing with the touch of your damp tongue.
I can carry this rusty chain for weeks. Sleep
on sharp welds in the middle of this umber
gulch. I prefer to nest
in the dark to forget all my lies.
Your outline glows—interrogator—in the black
fold of shadows. Let me make it up to you
with my loud learned silence.


On my loamy sickbed,
no ashes, no dry twigs
to soak the marsh water.
I crawl in a small circle.

I’ve walked over the pond
& through a dense wood.
Whispered pretty necklace until
my throat tickled. Just to get here.

My hair full with soft, brown nettles.
Your petal-hand open,
holding a rag for my damp back.
Here, at this hill, I bend over.

Sprinkle flecks of grass over my face.

Charles Kell is a PhD student at The University of Rhode Island and editor of The Ocean State Review. His poetry and fiction have appeared in The New Orleans Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, IthacaLit, The Pinch, and elsewhere. He teaches in Rhode Island and Connecticut.

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