2 poems

By Charles Kell


Feel my shape fossil, face
burn from black ash back

to a picture on the mantel.
Out of this zinc sheet

into a hot bubble. Out of steel
steps dripping with white

paint, green skin tossed
off along the rail. Out of names,

nickel, ampersand. The marriage
of tongue to salt back to chilled

aluminum. You were catching
my breath for hours on end.

Repeat Offender

Walls sweat under
lemon fluorescent. Wrists,
cuff-purple, plagiarized

by sick steel circles.
Sixty quick days
in Portage County Jail.

Caught drunk behind
a Lincoln’s shaky wheel.
Now, graph blue

lines on the shrinking
wall. Call six
times until someone

screams stop. I make
shadows again.
Catch a half face

with the edge of
a stripped pen.
I wasn’t three sheets

to the wind. No, interrogator,
not on the wrong
side of the road.

I was trying to talk
to the air. Play a bad
phantom hacking down

headstones. Smoke-
blown aesthete creeping
in the cell’s corner, unaware.

I know station numbers.
Know blind trigger
warnings when they come

to collect late payments.
Here’s glass currency.
Flecks of dead grass

in this orange uniform’s
pocket I call money.
Let the sick felon

sleep. Fold the cold
door gently
in its soft steel lock.   

Kell field.jpg

Charles Kell

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