Countdown

We carved our pumpkins
that dreadful night
we learned how long
we could expect you to exist
in your current and only form.
Inoperable was the word
we didn’t want to hear
and as we scooped out handfuls
of that stringy pulp,
we tried to focus on your joy
instead of that small round patch of hair
starting to grow back
above your ear.
You were looking forward
to Halloween,
which would be your last,
and the costume you chose a month ago
before we were sure
the countdown was on
happened to be a skeleton
with glowing bones
and a plastic skull mask
with blinking red eyes.
Only now does it seem
a sobering choice.
We lit the Jack-O-Lanterns
and roasted the seeds
and tried to carve happy smiles
into our own faces
because we weren’t sure yet
how to tell you
or if we should,
and I hated those pumpkins
for their bright grins
and removable lids
that could so easily be replaced
after we lifted out what
wasn’t needed,
and because I knew your light
wouldn’t fade so gracefully
when it was your turn to enter
that eternal night.

 

DeMaris Gaunt
10-27-13

Lost

Lost.
I love that word,
so often pushed
upon the young and the single—
the wayward population of misfits
who don’t settle, or won’t.
But I’m anchored, happily,
to a house and family
in the uneventful suburbs
with navigable roads
and a grocery store in sight.
I already know
the story of tomorrow.
There’s no uncertainty
about the love I come home to,
no deficit of laughter or funds—
still, there’s the awkward nudge
to make lost my destination—
to escape inexplicably
into the night
to get there.

DeMaris Gaunt
10-29-14

Division

For a while
I suspected there was
something beautiful
growing in your heart that
wasn’t meant for me
and I watched it bloom
into abundance
and I watered it carefully
wondering who would prune
t
he branches
when they began to reach
for the door and the car keys
at odd hours in the day—
and how strange it was
to witness your betrayal
as a patron of the arts
with front row seats
to a performance
so spectacular
I wanted to applaud!
And I wanted to root
for the lovers, who after all
had only fallen out of love
and then back into it
with fresh sympathies
and renewed expectations.
I might have done the same,
my love, if the right seeds
had taken root in the right soil—
and now I’ll clip
that stubborn vine that links me
so haphazardly to you
and I will always love
the way we carved
our initials into this life
which is ours to
make jagged or smooth.

 
DeMaris Gaunt
10-21-14

 

Fan Mail (for Stephen Dunn)

I can only write this

because I know—

or at least I have reason

to assume—

you’ve been here

in a similar chair

in a similar darkness

which covers evening

with a kind of urgency

to speak in sentences

that can never be

mistaken for platitudes

or pleasantries—

I want to reduce

the enormous weight

of emotion

to a few words like

admiration and envy

and even love—

if you’ll permit such a word

to be used innocuously

and from a safe distance

and with the right amount

of reverence.

You have sliced me open

with words

and carved into my heart

a sculpture so solid

and centered—

not even my lover

can move it or lift it

or drop it and break it

as easily and effortlessly

as you.

 

 

DeMaris Gaunt

10-21-14

 

Almost in Amsterdam

From our small round table

I watched you maneuver to the bar

through a dozen shiny obstacles,

breaking up that straight line

I could tell you were used to walking.

 

Careless dancers writhed

and glistened under a sparkling globe

the size of another world

as the smokers, lifting their chins,

exhaled metallic puffs.

 

Smooth as mannequins,

a few enameled blondes sat on the tall stools

examining your suit as you waited for our drinks,

their sharp stiletto heels

pulsing toward your knees.

 

The music was bass heavy, loud

and more provocative than what

they played back home in that other country

where you came from,

where I knew you’d soon return.

 

You wanted to leave

before we finished our beers

but I liked the way it made you nervous,

this generation to which you didn’t belong;

all the cool indifferent faces.

 

I knew I wouldn’t need

to be drunk to return with you to your hotel

and I wanted you to offer,

so I began to dance beside you

in the dark blue light.

 

You shook your head and smiled

when I tugged on your hand and I could see

you struggling to speak and I wondered then

if you had a lover somewhere

waiting for your call.

 

By the time the song was over

I was in your arms, my cheek pressed

like a prisoner against those bars across your heart,

and in my ear was your apologetic whisper

that there was something I should know.

 

 

 

DeMaris Gaunt

1-8-14

 

 

 

 

Love Letter

My dearest, you are not my first love

or my second, or my third.

But you might be the fourth (or fifth).

I’ll have to give it some thought

and get back to you.

Just remember there were a lot of years

before we met, and even though

you aren’t my first husband

you’re my favorite, by far.

And you’re the best-ever guy

at all the important things

like cooking and doing laundry

and taking out the trash and

I love that we share all those things

fifty-fifty, unless of course

you happen to cook a few nights

in a row and wash the dishes too

if I happen to be busy

playing Candy Crush on my iPone

or stalking old boyfriends

on Facebook.

And you’re so handy around the house

which is so sexy, and I love

that we never have to call a plumber

even though the upstairs toilet

still doesn’t flush unless you hold

that lever down for a minute,

but seriously, we’re saving a buck

and I think it’s worth it

even if we have to spend

an extra sixty seconds of our lives

six times a day waiting to make sure

it all goes down.

Six minutes is a small sacrifice

in the whole scheme of things,

I mean I get to live with you

twenty four hours a day

and sleep next to you for six of them

and holy shit, you don’t even snore

which makes you even more kick-ass

and I know there must be a few ladies

out there who’d love to be me

and get to laugh like I do

at all the funny things you say

and no doubt more than a few

have wanted to snuggle up with you

because you’re so handsome

and you’re the perfect height and weight

and you’ve got the greatest legs

and you can out dance anyone I know

except the contestants on dancing

with the stars, but I don’t really know them

personally, so it doesn’t count, I guess.

And I don’t know any other artist as talented

as you, except maybe the one who

got to paint the Pope for Time Magazine,

and I think you give Elton John

and Lionel Richie a run for their money

when you sit down at your piano

and fill the air with such blissful nostalgia.

And how many other brides

were serenaded at their wedding?

I don’t need you to guess,

the question is rhetorical.

My point is that I know how lucky I am

and I’m really overwhelmed

by how good I’ve got it.

Your abundance of awesomeness

makes it easier to tolerate the fact

that you’re a slob in the bathroom

and that you’ve never cleaned a commode

in all your life, and if it weren’t for me,

there would be sticky shit everywhere

because that’s the way you roll

but it’s okay because you’re the one

who has to do a lot of jobs

that I don’t want to because

I’m just a girl in the world

and I don’t want to pop the hood

and get my hands greasy to check the oil

in our vehicles or shovel snow

in sub zero temperatures,

but you don’t seem to mind.

And I love that you go off to the library

and bring home stacks of nonfiction books

to improve our minds and challenge

our many indoctrinations.

You make life interesting and

fun and you make me proud to be yours

and even though I used to be jealous,

you’ve earned my trust,

even though there was that one time

you lied about where you were

and then there was that incident

in New Hampshire, but it’s been so long

I’ve decided to never bring it up again

and don’t worry, I forgive you

for blurting out during an argument

that you pretty much wanted to bang

every girl who walks and

who is good looking and old enough,

but who can blame you, right?

It’s not like you’re going to do it,

just like I’m not going to bang Steven

even if he wanted to

because I love you, and he’s married

to Rebecca anyway, and I don’t think

she’d approve or give him a pass

even though he probably has the same

lascivious thoughts as you,

and he’d probably want to bang me too

if he thought he could get away with it.

I guess what I’m trying to say

is that you’re my true love

and I think we’ve found a path

through happiness, however narrow,

and if you died, I’d die too

until I decided it was time to move on

and it might take a year or two

or a month or a week

or who knows— I might meet

Mr. Next at your funeral

and he might be there saying goodbye

to his mother or his wife,

supine in the adjacent parlor

and he might have a son who is our son’s age

and the boys might really hit it off and

it might seem like your death

was meant to be and I might

wonder for a minute if god really did exist

and this was his way of saying

“See, it all works out in the end,”

and I’d lie in bed next to my new lover

and cry a few bittersweet tears

because I know this poem

would have made you laugh.

 

 

 

DeMaris Gaunt

1-10-14

All There Is

Today

I’m in love with you again—

and it isn’t because

I choose to be,

but because preference

isn’t something

handed to you

which can be refused

by free will or reason.

 

Today

I am distracted

by this love

I didn’t ask for, didn’t want—

and all I can do

is wait for it to pass

into the days ahead

where it will be diluted

into memory.

 

 

And in the meantime

I will go to bed

and wait for you

to turn the fire into water—

and you will do this

without knowing it,

without a choice

and from two thousand miles

away.

 

 

DeMaris Gaunt

3-28-14