The River of Strange Faces by Charles Kell

Old people shiver with-
out lights. No fire. A shovel
leans idle against the wet bark.
Over here, she whispers, finger

curling toward her blue face.
This shovel lifted coal. Moved
motionless bodies toward a dark
wood. The old people remember

yet say not a word. On
the bank at night—no light—
wait here awhile. A widow’s
sack of damp coal.

Here & here she points, people
carried their worlds in their arms.
In frayed sacks. Hidden deep
down thin socks, broken boots.

This shovel used as a weapon.
Moon-light blanked by clouds.
A shadow huddles behind a tree.
Come with me, she whispers,

take my hand, close your eyes.

© 2016 Charles Kell


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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, and elsewhere. He teaches in Rhode Island and Connecticut.


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