Hannah Kezema





The bed had fleas so I threw it away. The rug, the couch, I did away with. My mother can’t seem to keep a house clean. She doesn’t bathe. I asked her for 200 dollars and she gave it to me. The roof is caving in. Our furnace will not last us through winter. He works and comes home late. I fall asleep to the television. I wake up with the sun.




If blue were a shade of warmth you’d find it: how I dreamt of her star.




When we sat across from one another I felt afraid. Wary of the words that came out. We sat in the office against single-digit weather imagining spokes of a wheel turning. Each sense a spoke. Each sense spoke with her and shook, and I watched a throbbing light grow.




Your mother: I don’t have to tell you. You should’ve seen it. They’re throwing me a party. For my 82nd birthday.







Some days at work I feel dull in the movie theater. We played a gig upstate somewhere and made a lot of mistakes. Going home became strange. My parents seem jaded. My sister thinks evil is the only good thing she has left.




There is something wrong with my phone. It drops your calls.




I’m behind in my novel. Nobody knows. It all made sense when my paycheck said I clocked in 79 hours in the past two weeks. I asked her about words for colors. I wanted to execute time passing through patches of surface where the light can’t reach. A deep cranberry red carpet, fading. Last night, at the kitchen table, we came up with brick at the very same time.









I read her letter a few times and wrote a response. 45 minutes a week isn’t enough, it’s true. A semester isn’t enough. She apologizes for bounds she hasn’t crossed and I remind her that only I can draw them.




I am a coyote.




We will find a bed. I will make her her favorite meals. There are options. I think the cat has cancer. Tumors on her belly. I don’t want her to suffer. I hope she got the money I sent. The money I got from my mother.







I stood close. I walked her out the door.




We were so close on the bus, under the moon. Our legs and arms intertwined, desperate for warmth. I went to work the next morning happy. They said we’ve never seen you happy before.




It’s been too long. Nicaragua is so hot. I’ve gotten used to sweating. Copious amounts of tea and water. I work so much. I miss you so much. I love you so much.







I’m moving out. We’re looking for a farmhouse, can’t stand the filth any longer. Your grandmother is losing her grip. We don’t speak. You’ll have a nicer place to stay. A bed.




I placed a chair down and asked her to speak to another part of her. She sat from one chair to the next, asking and answering her questions. I asked her to repeat things in order for the other part to hear. The exchange came naturally. It was there, always.




She bathed in the crystalline lavender pool, blooming. I cut her out.









When we went to the remote mountain town the power went out. The flash blew through nakedness, hotel room so hot the window had to be propped by an old coffee cup. We left the dark to find dinner, walked down the icy patch of street sloping under the bridge.



Ascending trees before us. Every shop window looked vacant despite OPEN signs made of paper. The corners silent.



They served chips and margaritas at the Aztecan restaurant and we ate them blindly. Only the square lights shot from cell phones balanced upright on tables, the blue shedding from a newly sundown sky into the window. Larger boxes of light slid across the restaurant in a line as each car passed.







It was the waiter’s first day. They said it was common, the lights shutting off. 22,000 people passing through a small town.



I remembered perception and wrote a rhetorical question: what is this but this? That is the question we ask because we rely on the metaphor. We need likeness, measured distance.



What is inspiration but something cruel? We spoke to each other hunched over the blue meal when suddenly, the lights. People clapped. People blinked, repeatedly. We saw the room we’d been seated in. A Mayan calendar faced us like a sun.







The waiter walked towards the door and stopped, stiff and erect. I heard his body fall like an anvil against the carpet. Around the corner I looked and found him, limbs jerking.



Turn the lights off, the hostess pleaded. Don’t touch. Roll him on his side. Wait.



That’s all that can be done.




Hannah Kezema is an East coast–born artist living in the Santa Cruz redwoods by the sea. Her work explores failure, the cross-overs of text and image, and divination. Her chapbook, Three, is forthcoming from Tea and Tattered Pages in October of 2017.