A Boy with a Thorn

Please, Morrissey, if you can hear
me, come back to my bed-
room walls. Hand me over

twenty-two years ago. The door
gets erased by salt waves. Tear
it down now. See my green eyes.

Behind their hatred lies a murderous
desire. Say you still believe me.
Can’t escape this body no matter

how hard I try. Once we floated
a wave, broken arc, skin red
from the sun, your body open

to each crush. Forever that boy
to me in November. The animal
one becomes with the other. 

You should repent for your crime.
Bag up this cave’s detritus, crack a flame
then throw all the ash in the wind. 

I’ve kept a splinter housed
in my palm for years. Every time
it nervously tries to inch its way out

I drive it back in. Stare through me,
say Kell please, my disguise nearly
cracks. The short blue pin poking

my skin is a silent witness. 

 

 

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.

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.

Ghosts

There, while I slept, we
were together, moving under
jutting rocks, loose stone

falling on our windshield.
My dead father sat next
to me as I drove the car.

I kept an eye on the road,
while simultaneously stealing
glances at my passenger.

He said no more than a few words.
The wind, he whispered, never
changes. Feels the same here, every-

where. At the end he couldn’t eat
or walk or read or speak. The body
shriveled in twisted silence.

Barely breath, or any type of move-
ment. It is the silence I thought
of then. The silence I think of now:

I can steal, for a second, any quick
image. The glancing light on a bag
of piss. White lighter left motionless, 

covered in dust, on the nightstand. 
His right hand, gnarled from work. 
The silence I see with closed eyes. 

Everywhere, light on top of dark water.

 

 

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.

Dead Letter Office

The last word she said
was scared. Her hand,
black blister I felt
the bubble of, heat

from the hurt skin
on my palm. Sunk,
at last a ghost, inside
gives way to an invading

darkness. Slow wax
from the lit candle, light
waves on the wall. 
The machine I’ve made

out of this body erases
the words written before. 
Call to me, parasite, let
it ignite & consume the bitter

ails spreading. If you believe
you are sick you are sick. 
Everything outside is wet. 
If you believe the grass,

the scratch of earth on your desk
will fix you. I raise the belief
I once felt over my head.
Throw it in a hole opened

black in the middle of the floor. 

 

 

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.

Guilty

To drink one’s self sober
again, abstract way. Doppelgänger,
neon warrior, I live wide
open & ready, like a sick eye.

The city is still strange, the kiss
our names pledged, wet hand
in back pocket. Lost but not caring,
I kept after you, chasing.

Once I awoke in a cell,
yet wasn’t sure if it was a dream.
My name was called out,
& my mouth so dry

I couldn’t reply. They took my shoes,
my jeans & belt, placed my
wallet in a steel box. Blue swarm
before my eyes, river in a quick

glance from the barred window. 
I couldn’t say if I loved you, when you
held me down, writhing. Though
I whispered your name over & over. 

Little lights flickered behind my closed eyes. 

 

 

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.