Egon Schiele’s Hideous Phantom

Charles Kell


He is a champagne cork shat by the devil.

Star drop of semen in the jagged


of a broken glass bottle. To push,

to lay, to beat the chest’s hair

into matted lumps.

To crumble wet clay into small pellets

that dash in crooks of the wooden


Better to burn. To drink rubber liquid

until your hot head blows cold.

Better to pull purple vines

from the rotting trellis. The Inquisitor

waits, brush hairs hang on the easel’s


Face glistens like larva, halo

of white heat. Sculptor,

carve a mask, this lost year

into a flame eating paper. Rat nibbling

an ankle as the robe’s knot frays.

These arms are purple cylinders. Stand

so close to breathe in the fine dust of colors.     



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.