November Self-Portrait

I paint his name with a red candle
on a cut strip of black bark: to construct
the living dead. Head wrapped in travel
rags. One can talk or work, looking both
ways at once. Caught in the blue skull’s
snare, road here uneven, partly broken. 
Hair burns the color of leaves. Grief
eats. Fixed in a crawl space, copper

pipe, pixels. Gun powder on my sleeve. 
Animal in the distance creeps closer, 
ready to rip me. The tree hammers
every star to the sky. Tear my scab, stick
mud in it. More blur. Smear of black
ink over white, blue-lined paper.



About the Author: 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, and elsewhere. He teaches in Rhode Island and Connecticut.