Three Poems

Collin Kelly


Spring Street where it crosses 10th,
the funeral home corner,
where they handed Terry back
in a cardboard box ten years ago,
reduced him,
made him fit in a ziplock bag,
made him volcano dust and bone chips.
AIDS made him Pompeii.

In a yellow newspaper clipping 1951,
the year Terry was born,
a photo of that same corner,
white walls and gabled roof,
ivy veined portico for shadow tears,
the building like Queen Elizabeth's
admonition to Orlando: do not fade,
do not wither, do not grow old.

From the second floor tonight
Spring Hill is a beacon, unchanged,
save for the mourners' faces
and the bodies of those once pretty boys.

One day, I'll be taken to that corner,
for whatever reason, so I take a good, long look,
memorize each brick,
in case the soul is blind or refuses to hover,
or if death is only blackness and I am just ashes.


No food is safe in a fairy tale,
a single bite enough to stop your heart,
or put you into a coma.
So who could blame the starving wolf
for wanting to eat Little Red,
suck the gristle off her skeletal frame,
hidden behind her Riding Hood,
the picnic basket a rouse,
so the girls won't notice at school,
her sharp shoulder blades and sallow skin
stretched over toothpick ribs.

And what about Snow White,
who already has texture issues,
she'll never eat fresh fruit again,
or comb her hair for that matter,
because the mirror is back talking,
making her paranoid about the Prince,
says he's got eyes for a skinny maid,
so she'll hide her dinner in napkins,
or discreetly vomit in a chamber pot,
the comfort she once took in apples
now gone to rot.

Pity the witch in her candy house,
luring chubby children into her oven,
having them build their own pyre,
she's too weak to even cut them up,
hopes their flesh will fall off the bone
into her swollen mouth, even a crone
isn't safe these days from poison,
and irrational fear of processed foods.

And Cinderella, slenderizing for the ball,
working her fingers to the bone, blaming
the stepsisters, so she can fit in a size zero,
ride a garish coach, not be the pumpkin
she sees in the mirror, that whispers to her
at night, calls her Two Ton Tessie,
says she'll be alone if her foot cracks
the dainty glass slipper, no one likes
a fat Princess.


          Scotland Yard asked London education authorities how many black boys aged four to seven had vanished from school. Between July and September 2001, 300 had disappeared, and police fear thousands may go missing annually. — BBC News

In summer lull,
before the towers fall,
when crossing borders
is easy like sliding doors,
a torso washes up
at Tower Bridge,
no head or limbs, he's maybe seven
this delicate-chested boy,
stomach filled with quartz
and rough gold, the Thames
returning sunken treasure.

Three hundred black boys
have disappeared in London
as police determine this one
came from Nigeria
by the density of his bones.
From July to September,
they dissolved, slipped
through cracks.
No fibers, no fluids,
no grainy video images
of incandescent flesh
or flashing eyes.
Just gone.

This is called human trafficking,
African men and women
selling their own and whites
still eager to buy
at public auction,
souls now channeled
through air and wires,
transferred like a car title,
to wind up on some heap,
or stripped to shell.

One small boy, his homeland
a gene, his identity a mystery.
His missing face frozen
in someone's mind,
maybe a mother who sold him
for a few day's food,
or the white man who consumed him,
or the voodoo priest who beheaded him,
a sacrifice to drive the evil back to Africa,
a long reach and hunger quenched.

One small boy, 299 still missing.
They call this one Adam.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet from Atlanta, Georgia. He is the author of Slow To Burn (2006, Metro Mania Press) and Better To Travel (2003), which was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award and Georgia Author of the Year Award. Kelley's poetry has appeared in Blue Fifth Review, Terminus, New Delta Review, Chiron Review, poeticdiversity, The Pedestal, Lily, Welter, SubtleTea and many others. He is co-editor of the award-winning Java Monkey Speaks Anthology series (Poetry Atlanta Press) and hosts the Internet radio show The Business of Words at Leisure Talk Radio Network. For more information, visit