My Father

was a poet
who never wrote
a word. Composing

through silence, sly
glance, skirting
the letter

of the law
to within an inch.
I learned every-

thing & nothing
at all. How
to stare at a wall

for days & find
infinite worlds.
Play of light

over each widowed
crack. Spider
breathing low

in a dark corner
hole. How
to sleep with

one eye half-
open. To count
leaves. Wet

sand floating
over oceans.
How to strap

a 60 lb. chain
to my back
& ignore the pain.

We drove quietly
across highways.
Barely a word.

Black sky opening,
hot oil leaking
on the left-behind


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 in The New Orleans Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, IthacaLit, and elsewhere. He teaches in Rhode Island and Connecticut.