At the Table

If only someone would ask
the right questions—
who knows what secrets
might be revealed,
what depths might be touched.
Some of us wait our whole lives
for an opportunity that never comes:
a chance to be opened up
on the butcher block of truth.

We couldn’t be blamed if our truth
escaped us in the form of an answer,
but to speak it without invitation
would be some egregious violation
of propriety and order
and just might upset the very balance
of the natural world.

Still, no one asks the interesting questions,
and it isn’t clear whether it’s courtesy
or lack of curiosity that keeps the
conversation so placid and tedious
and breathtakingly far
from what I really want to know,
which is Why did you leave?
Why did you stay?  How bad does it hurt?
What would have changed your mind?
What would you give, trade or say
if you could just___?

Once or twice, I’ve been there—
on the brink of blurting out
some tidbit so delicious
it would give everyone permission
to follow into the undiscovered world
of common denominators,
but even I have felt the restraint of
decorum and good manners.

And maybe a busy restaurant
in the middle of a sunny afternoon
isn’t the right place for exposure.
And maybe the company is wrong too
if what you want
is to get to the bottom of things.
The bottom, after all, is that place
we all know how to find
but only some of us want to admit it,
and talk about the beauty
that we found there.

DeMaris Gaunt

Short Story

Fair has nothing to do with it—
If you want to know why
I fell in love with him, or when,
I’d have to answer that it happened
without intention.  Slowly.
I promise it wasn’t your fault, or mine.
It’s just that he was there each time
you weren’t.  When you didn’t kiss me
when we passed
in the narrow kitchen, he did.
When you weren’t interested
in my poems, he was.
Always, you left the lid up.  He didn’t.
You never wanted to go hiking,
so he met me in the woods.
Even in winter,
he didn’t mind the cold
or the snow or the steep hills.
His hands were warm
in my imagination, which is the only time
I allowed him to touch me—
so don’t be angry, my Love,
if you see him.  It isn’t his fault
for being part of my fiction:
this short story which must seem so unfair,
if I didn’t think you were as busy
writing your own.


DeMaris Gaunt







Nearly as bad
as the death of your child
is the promise
by other survivors
(other crushable mothers)
that there is a form
of recovery in your future.

It will always be
a tender wound, they tell you,
but it will scab over
and allow you short reprieves
where the pain is bearable
and even smiles can return
to the landscape
above your shoulders.

To entertain a future
without muddy shoes
running into the house
and all those messes
I hated to clean up
feels like a Gift of the Magi
gone terribly wrong.

A single joy
seems unimaginable
and undeserved,
but his abbreviated life was
was so large with love—
it’s pushing me against my will
to believe he wouldn’t want
my life to end with his.

DeMaris Gaunt

The Real Monogamy

~After listening to Dan Savage talk about monogamy (video below)


I liked it better
when it was just me
in love with “him”
from afar—
certain that he’d love me back
if we met one day
on some city street,
then occupied the same
table in a restaurant
where the music
was so loud
we had to lean in close
and pay attention
to the shape of each others
mouth when we spoke.
I could at least imagine
that our minds would
be an eternally perfect match-
which would be the strange
and beautiful taste
that couldn’t be fully
but would linger and carry us
for the rest of our lives.
Then, somehow,
when it became clear
that the statistics say
even the lover
who shares your bed
has an unknowable “her”
it diluted the euphoria
that lay down with my wish,
part of which
was that “him” and I
were the only two people
in the world
who could accommodate
the explosion of a second love
without damaging
the first.

DeMaris Gaunt

Here’s a link to the Dan Savage video.  Something to think about.

The Dawn of Man

The stick.

How long did it lie on the ground
before some curious, hairy human
picked it up, reached into the tree
with an astonishing new arm,
straight and long with an accurate aim?

The fruit fell down.

How long before it caught on?
Until everyone else saw the sense in it,
the way it made life a little easier,
a little more fun?

Was it unintentional,
that first violent contact?
The stick coming down accidentally
on the head of a brother,
the fruit rolling away
from the splatter of blood.

Such an event must have ignited
some pre-fire temper
that swelled into an agonizing grunt,
and though there were no words yet
for apologies,
it was clear what kind of pain was possible
with this new tool.

Imagine, now, the others,
open mouthed,
slowly backing away
from the one who made the accidental blow.
And when his reason
told him to show them the culprit,
he raised his stick above his head.

When they shrank to the ground
and covered their heads,
he felt the rush of control
and was the first to realize,
before language could explain it,
that creating fear was a kind of power
which would never be improved.


DeMaris Gaunt


The NASDAQ is down
48 points
which means nothing
to those of us (most of us)
who live without
savings accounts
or pension plans
in the suburbs of cities
which look so small
on any given map
of the world or country
or state.
The globe is blue and green
and full of brown
broken hearts
who care more about
locating their true north
than they do about
the dollars that leak out
of their thin wallets
to pay for the governments
We complain with best of them
but we don’t feel much
for the wall street crowd
and the mysterious exorbitant
loans we make to them
against our will.
What we the people
really want is one more
moment with that person
we walked away from
years ago.
You know the story
because you have one too.
The one thing you have in common
with every rich fucker
in the universe
is a longing longing longing
for the one thing money
can’t buy.


DeMaris Gaunt


Christmas Prayer

Most of the family,
for so long a single minded stem—
blossomed away
from those stubborn roots.

The old man,
that solid patriarch,
and one lonely son
were the only ones left
who felt  a prayer
offered before the meal
was necessary—
would be received.

Having already dropped
those mythical petals of promise,
the rest of us bowed
passive participants
in the familiar ritual,

knowing eternity will not bloom
above the grave
but will continue
as long as we all shall live.


DeMaris Gaunt