Kelly Hanwright


What do you do when you’re five
and Mama tells you she sees visions; thinks
you should know about the ones
of your father…

There’s the one where he’s sinking in quicksand,
head as far back as possible and she’s screaming;
praying but he won’t confess and the mire is just about to flow
into his mouth…

Or when he’s standing
at Grandma’s gate and the face is his but
the arms and feet are covered in the course hair
of an animal….

Finally, the dragon
that chased her down the river road and blocked
her path, eyes flashing, tail ready to swipe
her car into Sabine as she was bringing Daddy
a bible…


How are you supposed to know what to believe when she tells you
he’s possessed?



First time I tried it,
I must have been six.
Frustration forced tears.
I shouldn’t be here!

Without contemplation,
hands encircled my scrawny neck.
I already knew being strangled
stopped one’s breathing.
I squeezed tighter.

Mama says when little
kids die, they go
straight to heaven.

God, please take me
to wherever heaven is.
I know it’s better
than here.

I would have tried
even if I thought
I had to go to hell.




The Dark

Setting: Granny’s livingroom
Time: Darkest part of night

I get out of bed because I am not falling asleep;
run hands along walls and furniture,
reach the living room.

Granny turns out all the lights before she goes to bed.
I want to cry but
tears have stuck in my throat like
too-thick vomit.

I hold my breath so I can be quiet,
and she won’t think I’m a fraidy-cat.
I am, but I don’t want her to know that.

I make my way to the window,
teeth chattering.
A thin ugly curtain
shrouds the moon.

Turning away,
I move to the rocker;
huddle there frozen
without enough will
to turn on a light.





Kelly Hanwright is a poet and teacher who has come to believe in Regeneration as a force. She creates art to help understand herself, and shares to help others do the same for themselves. Work has appeared in American Diversity Report, Lady Literary Magazine, The Birmingham Arts Journal.