Anatomy of an Enigma

Charles Kell


for Francis

I watch him hold a gold ring
between fingers tousling brown hair.

Black leather jacket grips bare
shoulders. He catches me spying,

invites me through the open glass oubliette.
Slakes blue oil into spackled spider

webs on the wall. Throws orange flecks
in the air. Red wine cakes his lips.

Drops of plaster freckle his floor.
He calls me sober, short for sobriquet.

I call him mask. Sallow cheeks look
into gone green eyes, castanet & brush.

Arabesque come back laughing. Each chain
from the weather vane whispering black salt.



Charles Kell is the author of Cage of Lit Glass, chosen by Kimiko Hahn for the 2018 Autumn House Press Poetry Prize. His poetry and fiction have appeared in the New Orleans Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, Kestrel, Columbia Journal, The Pinch, and elsewhere. He is Assistant Professor of English at the Community College of Rhode Island and associate editor of The Ocean State Review. He recently completed a PhD at the University of Rhode Island with a dissertation on experimental writing, criminality and transgression in the work of James Baldwin, Rosmarie Waldrop, Joanna Scott and C.D. Wright.