What is that transparent

impenetrable barrier

like a plate glass window

that keeps the blue jay

from the cardinals nest

even though they visit

the same feeder in my backyard?


How do they know what they are

when they must see, as I do,

the variety of wings and colors

and songs?


What identification is theirs?

Is it the mirror of water or glass,

or some unmistakable pulse

that sets them apart?


Maybe it’s no different than

the way I am caught like a starling

in murmuration, unable to fly

out of sync into the independent air


where I watch you fly

with the solitary grace

of a golden bird above the rest of us—

and the wind in the sky

is like a boundary that keeps us

from falling in love.



DeMaris Gaunt


Beach Ball

Nothing special

about a beach ball.

Not much

to keep you interested

in a poem

about an inflatable toy

meant for summertime

except that when

it blew away

it reminded me

of the years

I couldn’t catch him,

so fast he was—

carried by the breeze

that stirred

above the waves

and when the sands

gave way to the ocean

I had to let him go or else

I’d still be drowning.



DeMaris Gaunt


Along the Lines

If you were one of those

who complained that longer lines

were going to be a problem for you

if the healthcare bill passed into law

the way a child might pass away

if he were uninsured,

come closer.


I want to look deep

into the trinity of your eyes—

the iris, the pupil and the white—

and see for myself if your humanity ends

where your religion begins.


After all, you,

who have paid your tithe

and lived so comfortably

on the soft pillow of coverage

cannot be expected to contemplate

the Lord’s complexity or question

his bestowment of blessings—

You simply accept by faith

that “deserve”

has something to do with it. 


All you know

is that it would be an abomination

if you had to wait an extra week

to see the specialist

or if you missed a tennis lesson at the club

because your appointment

got a fifteen minute bump

into your leisurely afternoon.


Come here.

Stand at the end of the line

and tell me what you see

before you close your eyes.



DeMaris Gaunt





Read this quickly


with urgency

the way you live your life

because there’s a message

inside these words

that might disappear

if you don’t speed up

and please

whatever you do

don’t walk away

in the middle

when you’re only

halfway through—

you’re almost there

you’re going to make it

don’t slow down

the finish line is close

it’s finally in sight

and this is where

you realize every time

that you didn’t really need

to rush.



DeMaris Gaunt




Now that I know what love isn’t,

instructed by a history of errors,


I can say for sure

what I’ve long suspected:


that night drive home from Cincinnati

dozens of years ago


(or was is only ten)

meant as much as the whole decade since.


Two lovers: one for a night and one for the long run,

one on wheels and one with an anchor.


It seems unfair that the first would

still drive me to the same conclusion:


that it’s possible for love to float alongside you

separate from the safety of your ship


like an old lifeboat, tethered,

just waiting for you to jump in.



DeMaris Gaunt



Faithful Airplanes

is unnecessary
if no harm’s been done,
but still, I think I’ll never tell anyone
how beautiful it was
to spend those hours
so fully enraptured by his company
in that small bar off the lobby
where we never touched
or discussed
what we’d have for dinner the next day
because there wouldn’t be one for us—
no next day, since airplanes
are mostly faithful to their schedule—
in sync with the plans we made
before we met.
And because we talked
so deeply about morality
we shook hands
as we exited the hotel,
both of us certain an embrace
would unravel us, turn us inside out
in one of those rooms upstairs
where anything could happen
and nothing
none of it
would ever be forgiven.