Rejuvenation

He enters her dark room
like a ghost
illuminated by memories
woven into the fifty-year-old shirt
he’s wearing—
the one his father never gave him—
the one he acquisitioned
after a soul passed from this life
into ashes—
and for all he knows
his father wore
that soft blue polyester shirt
with the once-fashionable collar
to work and back home
or to gamble away a paycheck
at the track
or to visit his mother’s grave
or to pick out paint
for the bedroom of his youngest son
or to a hundred church picnics
or to a meeting
with other intellectuals
to discuss the impact of Vietnam—
and maybe once upon a time
his father was disrobed
by a woman who wasn’t his wife
and maybe the shirt remembers
how it feels
to be unbuttoned
by a passion that doesn’t exist
back home in the bedroom
where it hangs.

 

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
5-21-18

 

“Four Lane Road” by Edward Hopper, 1956

Nights Like This

Nights like this

you wish he would

show up at your door

out of the blue sorrow

you’ve been swimming in.

Nights like this

you imagine yourself letting go.

You imagine breaking

the tight grip of every restraint

propriety has on you.

Nights like this

you are alone enough

to imagine yourself

out of bounds.

You are alone enough

to imagine yourself bold.

Nights like this

are nights

when he never comes.

Out Loud

Hearing myself speak
to a dear old friend
at the grocery store
about the one I loved
was a revelation—
and pulled out of me a few facts
I’d never heard out loud—
facts like:
I loved him because…
But this…
But that…
We didn’t…
We couldn’t…
and I watched pity
twist her face into a grimace
filled with an empathy
reserved for those
who should know better
than to put all one’s eggs
into one basket—
and because I had a dozen
in my cart as well as
frozen meatballs
and frozen fish,
I thought it best to part
before I let the truth
finish another sentence.
I said, He didn’t want me
to put my life on hold…
but the truth
was finished when the words
he didn’t want me
landed in my ears
and put a fresh sting
into my long dry eyes.

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
5-1-18

“Two Women on the Hillside” by Franz Marc, 1906

 

House of Cards

Flattened,
you stand back
to survey the damage–
you consider how long it took
to perfect those startling
and beautiful angles–
how long it took
to get them just right
so they could support
your next move.
You didn’t realize
the moments of triumph
would be so few and far between–
or that the between
was going to be so full
of uncertainty
and strong winds
there was no way
it could have held together.
So you pick up all those cards
and stuff them in your pocket.
You don’t have the energy
to rebuild what you know now
is only going to fall–
and right now
you don’t even have the heart
to cut — or shuffle the deck.

 

 

 

DeMaris
4-20-18

Double Feature

Friday, almost midnight—
a movie theater mass exodus
into the dim-lit parking lot.
Voices hurry toward sleep
while my keys jingle and unlock
my sleeping god of destinations.
But another movie plays out
in my rear-view mirror—
an un-young couple embrace their wish.
The long strap of her green purse
is a snake on top of her white Nissan—
his body pressed between hers
and his dark blue Honda Accord.
He holds her as if this night
is all they have, have ever had—
as if he’d give anything
to be with her, elsewhere, anywhere
except in the hereafter of two hours
spent in the only dark they could afford—
I imagine them holding hands
in the back row, leaning into a dream
that will never come true—
forgetting about the lives they’ve
stepped out on to be here—
why else would she be crying
if this wasn’t the last scene
in their clandestine romance?
Why else would he still be sitting
in his car long after she drove away?

DeMaris
4-15-18

God Talk

Of all places, a bar
the week after Easter
six women, six men
talking God, talking Jesus
recapping the resurrection
one of the men, of course,
doing most of the talking
and I was so close
I could reach out
and touch his clothes
if I wanted to,
if I wanted to
challenge that faith of his
if I wanted to
ask a few questions
about the mission
god had chosen for him
which was to spread
the Good News like butter
onto this bread of mine
to make sure every unbeliever
knew that an afterlife
was an option
in exchange for reason
in exchange for the kind of
common sense that says
you need to seek forgiveness
from whoever it was
you hurt, injured, or wronged
instead of from a man
who lived and died
fourteen hundred years
before the invention
of the printing press.
So instead of begging
for anyone’s pardon
I head for the door
that leads to a light so bright
it took ten million years more
than just one day to be created
and no one in the world
has ever existed
who I’d ask to pick up
and carry all my burdens
and while they’re at it
pay for my tab.

 

 

 

DeMaris
4-10-18