Two Poems by Charles Kell

Cenotaph

There is a phenomenon amongst
former prisoners where after release
they begin to reconstruct the very
dimensions of the cell they once
were housed in. A rip inside where
the action ends then begins. A clock
is drawn with graphite. A window
is carved, then on top of it the limb
from a tree. Thousands of books out
of nowhere. A pencil and sheets of
white paper. With skinny arms

walls are aligned with wet grey matter.


Lincoln Town Car

After you hit Rob in the face
I tackled you & trapped, you
crushed your lips against mine.

Earlier that night, in your
maroon Lincoln Town Car,
you smash Dave’s father’s

antique corvette parked with
a tarp covering it. Your foot
accelerated & your right arm

reversed, laughing until Rob
& I forced you out & he drove
back to the Windham projects.

With a swollen eye, Rob looked
gaped-mouth at our kiss which
was over in a second & never

mentioned again, as if below
sea-level we met & our bodies
became tangled until we broke

the surface. Reminds me when
we were 12 & 13, how we cut
our arms & licked each other’s

blood in a boy’s ritual under
stars. Last summer we played
catch with an old football while

your wife looked on, your daughter
joining us & the sickness over
what we’ve done to our lives

leaves me. The football moves in
a soft arc through the air & I think
back to the summer fifteen years

ago, driving in your Lincoln Town
Car with open beers & a joint, how
you wrapped your arms around

my body that one night after
smashing the corvette & punching
Rob in the face, how a few days

later you touched my shoulder
& stared into my eyes, thanking me
for the 350 dollars for an abortion

you didn’t want your girl to have.


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 or are forthcoming in The New Orleans Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, floor_plan_journal, The Manhattanville Review, and elsewhere. He teaches in Rhode Island and Connecticut.

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