Compass 

Mine
was plastic
orange
inexpensive
with a cord
to go
around
my neck
and it never
seemed
to make it
easier
to find
my way
when I
was lost
while yours
was internal
invisible
instinct
with a
built in
barometer
a feeling
in the air
a trust
you had
that the sun
could be
relied upon
to make
no errors
on its
course
so you
never worried
about
making
a wrong turn
or heading
in the wrong
direction
until
our paths
crossed
and now
we are
navigating
the dark
together
and I’m
hoping
you’ll feel
your heart
quiver
like the
needle
on a
compass rose
as it
gets closer
to mine
searching
for its
true north.

 

 

 

DeMaris
10-15-17

Tug of War

Today
you will be expected
to demonstrate
your genetic fortitude
while you get the work done
efficiently and well
and you will be expected
to laugh at the jokes
made by your father
at the expense
of your mother
when she’s not around
and you will do this
with an effort so great
it will appear effortless
and later on
you will be expected
to use the manners
you learned as a child
while you listen
to your mother rehash
the past forty years
of emotional neglect
which was worth it
she swears
because she got you
so you listen
with a detached disgust
that’s replaced your empathy
making sure the lines
in your furrowed brow
appear authentic
because you
are on the payroll
and your job
isn’t damage control
your job is
favorite child
and you’re going for golden
on two accounts.

 

 

 

DeMaris
10-9-17

Proof

When
you’re driving
down the road
feeling content 
listening
to The Rolling Stones
bobbing your head
tapping
your left foot
you realize
in that moment
everything
terrible
that’s ever happened
in your life
is behind you–
that you got through it
that this moment
proves
none of that s***
was big enough
or bad enough
to keep you down
on the bottom
where
you were so certain
you would stay.

DeMaris

9-25-17

September Revelation 

Dearest
It occurred to me
Only today
That I might not
Love you
Forever
Or uninterrupted
That whatever we are
Might just
Be for now
For the time being
Until something
Happens
To bend
Break
Sever
Our bond
Which is only
A feeling in the air
Between us
And someone else
Might step in
To take you
Lure you
Steal your heart
Or my heart
Away
Which happens
All the time
Because I am not
The only one
And you
Are not
The only one
Who can make me laugh
Or bring me
The kind of joy
That inspires
A commitment
To the lie
That love
Is irreplaceable
And always true.

DeMaris
9-21-17

Night Walker

Plump red lips
pink cheeks
with purple swells
of lopsided skin
head down
eyes forward
hat on
sometimes off
the gait
full of sloppy bounce
the legs not
quite straight
the brain intact
whole
wholly intelligent
capable of
the self-awareness
that causes
embarrassment
great enough
to keep him inside
the house
when the sun
is showing off
everyone else’s
normal
symmetrical bodies
imperfect
as they are
he’d love
to have one.

 

 

 

DeMaris
9-15-17

“Four People Sharing a Meal” charcoal drawing by Vincent van Gogh, 1885

About this poem:

Since my childhood I’ve known of a man with major facial deformity who lived nearby. He was known to be very intelligent and worked as an architect.  I was always fascinated by his face, and occasionally would get a glimpse of him out walking.  Recently, I moved back to my hometown and I pass his house every evening on my night walk.  Sometimes, he’s out walking too and we say hello.  I can’t help but wonder about his life experience. Is he comfortable in his own skin?  Does he feel cheated out of a “normal” life? Has he ever been in love?  Has anyone ever loved him?

Anger Management

I don’t
want to calm down
don’t want to cope
with this disappointment
this anger
that’s on me
in me
around me
for what feels like miles
and I don’t want
to walk out from under it
escape it
stop it
end it
push it back
no
it can stay as long as it likes
long enough for me
to hold it
examine it
study its origin
its source
the way it tightens
then loses its grip
and always disappears.

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
9-14-18

Photo by Ansel Adams