Charles Kell

2 Poems

The Stoics

One step draws light

to what you know.


False winter, suffereing

without words. On the riverbank


frozen water, foot over ice

brittle mirror. A boy fell in last


year, branch reached out to catch

a receding hand. Over in an hour.


Mother collapsed on glass

leaves, you kept her


shaking under a thick blanket.

Never a word. No sound


except pen scratching paper.

They say it was horrible


to watch. Two hours later

the sky savage clear. How a story


comes around. Moment forgotten

quick, quicker, what happened?


Light paper lifts then ascends.

The closing of something is not


The start of something else.

It is the end. Seems an easy


way to finish. This subtle

announcement. Not, instead,


the sickness one feels for

attempting to make some-


thing out of it.

The Lost Boy

Sister is sick, puking

up food on purpose, everyone

gone, “wings of a fly”

she says, caught in her throat “on fire.”


Huddle together, walk the white goat down

Freedom Road in Ohio.

My name is Dirt: nine-years-old.

The stars reach out grab one another


then blow up. Cold little

pieces of dirt rain down.

We watched The Lost Boys over & over.

She drove to the theater. Popcorn


& Pepsi. Snowcaps. “They’re maggots

Michael. How are those worms,

Michael?” In her throat burns

acid from the wretched food. “I’m all right”


she says. All that is required is empty

out. A little farewell.

When I was older I got sent

to jail. Sister disappears.


I have to find her. I swear on all

the salt floating in the air. She is here,

somewhere in the city. I search for bits of paper,

red string, loose strands of her hair.

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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