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Charles Kell

Skull Boxes

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Cold air swifts, composes
a hushed spectrum. Little
dots flash—gotten up
too quick—before your eyes.

A grackle’s wing, housed under
rows of twig, moss soft against
a worn rock, lays almost
hidden—absent of body and head.

We used to come here, this place
where the wood envelopes
before opening upon a small
clearing, two hours to walk to.

Then it was you, alone. I could tell
from your long absence, smell
on your coat, dried mud caked
to the soles of your black boots.

Have thought of being both present
and absent in one place. As though
this thought could will the physical
body away. We know this is false.

Like what we used to do together, here.
I could gather the wing, rub its cold
softness wet against my forehead,
Instead, nothing. Stare with unfixed

eyes at a branch, hear an unseen tree cracking.


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Space enough for Autumn to rest.
He’s his own ventriloquist.

He’s kept his house uncluttered
& unfettered.
He’s the same now as a year or twenty years ago.

Light affirms nothing in its passing.
The wind is just the wind, meaning

nothing other than its being.
My house grows wet from the flood.

Mold & rot suck raw the banister.
My lung drags with a single breath,

But breath I must, so I breath in.
I press his wet back with my burnt fist.

Hieroglyph his right eye with a hammer.
Dark nail, hollow reed, blamed him for all of this.

Dragged his limp body toward the marsh out back.
Black boots on steps, pockets fill with silt,

opening and closing of doors. What happens
to a body which once housed & now consumes no more?

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