Francis Bacon’s The Black Triptychs

by Charles Kell


You could talk about the toilet.
Sideways face jutting
The way hands make claws—
nothing to hold onto.

Face smeared mirror—still, frozen

There. A red spot. Dark city
in the corner.

There. Sick light bulb, broke eye.
I have been in a place like this.

Seen a man bent over, arms splayed, still.


No, the air inside is still stale.
A wooden ship pushed in a bottle

Broken sail, broken mast. My favorite
pair of slacks vomit-stained. The remains

of a glass of port on the green
coffee table. Red ring. Naked bodies

bent facing each other in a dimly lit
room. I’ve lost my sense of direction—

behind closed eyes misery stars sprinkle.
Oblique creaking.


Forget the waves that once washed over your body.

Stripped to the waist. Salt clinging to your cheeks,
hair on your arms standing straight up & still.

The mirror novel walking down the sand. Go,
said the bird. Blue vein spiders his arm.

Go, someone far away calls. You are almost there—end.

Wrist watch two loops tight. You have made it—blue

lolling. Someone found you this way—not me—I would
have left your body there. Walked down the road.

Smoking a cigarette under the street lamp.

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

Photo by: Ana Prundaru