Bearable Things

There are so many
bearable things
like stepping out of bed
at 6 a.m.
into comfortable slippers
and trying to fall asleep
again at midnight
and failing
because you have a mind
that likes to play
in the dark alleys
of the wrong parts of town
and even when you aren’t
in the comfort of
the horizontal position
there are so many things
that are just okay
and nothing out there is
demanding your attention
or threatening your life
and the work
is steady enough
to order takeout without guilt
and still buy those boots
you saw in the window
even though
they didn’t have your size
and you were certain
it would be alright
because they were beautiful
and they would stretch
to accommodate
your need for them
which has been your approach
to almost everything
and might even be why
you said yes
on that occasion long ago
when there was just a tiny pinch
of uncertainty
but you convinced yourself
there was no such thing
as a perfect fit.

DeMaris Gaunt

Above Auschwitz

Pretend for a moment
you are the creator
of the universe,
which is easy to do
if you will visit Youtube
and find the footage
of a manmade drone
flying above Auschwitz
on the 70th anniversary
of its liberation.
Your view will be unpopulated
by the events of the 1940’s
but if you use your imagination
it will be clear by the double
barbed wire fences
this place was unkind
to bone and blood and breath.
And while you soar
try to imagine
what it must have been like
to see it all below
yet fold your arms indifferently
as you listened
to the hopeless masses
pray for bread
and mercy and deliverance—
or a one minute reprieve
to rest their tired feet.
The scene is accompanied
by music –
appropriately melancholy
which brings you to tears
and makes it impossible
for you not to be moved
or sickened
or compelled to believe
there was no god to care
or hear, or intervene—
which is what you would have done
if all the power in the world
were yours.

DeMaris Gaunt

Born Again

Well then, it’s settled.
There will be no death for you
who have accepted fiction over fact
and value culture over the cultivation
of knowledge—
which will go on
separating the wheat from the chaff,
the pit from the peach,
and the wise man from the fool.
Heaven and hell are waiting
and there’s a choice to be made
in the name of everlasting life
which you have faith will mean more
than any scientific discovery
which tells us that brains are not ghosts
inhabiting the machines of our bodies
and that death is the bittersweet reward
for having overcome the odds
that insist we’re lucky
to have even once been born.
Peace of mind at the expense of truth
has no appeal,
and comfort has never been responsible
for improvement, growth or change.
But if ignorance offers anything, it’s bliss—
an intoxicating concoction that aids
in the denial that reality is just as magical
as anything our imaginations
can conceive.


DeMaris Gaunt



I do not
cannot love you
but somehow
I wonder if I do
because here you are again
inflating my heart
with your big ideas
that won’t leave me alone
and you of all people
shouldn’t be surprised by
what goes on in
our uncontrollable
expandable minds
and how many times
have I heard you
talk about sex
and the need for it
and even if you never said
that innocuous word
I’d still be wondering what
it would feel like
to be in your company
with our clothes on
and I’m certain
I’d be drunk with admiration
and unable to speak clearly
or arouse in you
the kind of interest
that would inevitably lead
to both of us naked
in the ocean
of a king size bed
so I’ll just confess
that this heady intoxication
is beyond my control
and means nothing more
than I am a sensitive human
moved by your humanity
so don’t worry
that I’ll disrupt or contact you
because Gerald Stern and I
both know that you must never
fuck the muse
or send them the inspired poems
which drip
with the condensed
and saturated beauty
of all this wanting
and wouldn’t you agree
that the meaning of some words
like love
must be calibrated for
the unexpected
but not unwelcome feeling
of affection that lingers
for an unwelcome
period of time
and makes it so hard
to imagine how
or why I’m so in love with you
when I couldn’t possibly
be in love with you
without reciprocation
or communication
not to mention
the closest we’ve come
to touching is me
reading your mind
which inhabits a fair amount
of real estate
on my bookshelves
so just to prove my love
I’ll make a vow
that I will never
say your name.

DeMaris Gaunt

The Unexpected

(After Watching a Documentary on North Korea) 

there are unexpected pleasures
which appear
in the form of vegetables
on your doorstep—
a gift from your neighbor,
whose surplus
became a kindness
you will want to repay.

Once, we woke in winter
to the noise of another neighbor
pushing his snow blower
up and down our drive,
making it clear
that we live in a small world
covered with goodwill
that grows out of prosperity
and the altruistic
nature of humanity.

An open door
is the contribution of this house.
Children are welcome here
when babysitters get sick
or mothers won’t make it home
before the bus.
Snacks or dinners
or beds are available here
on short notice
without charge.

is easiest
when the streets outside
are clean and unpopulated
with hunger or need—
when every television on your street
offers the illusion of choice
between reality or news
and you have no remote control
to turn it off.


DeMaris Gaunt


A woman like that
does not exist on any sofa
no matter how soft
or affordable or white.
Page 41 is a beautiful lie
warmed by the California coastline
seen through those
whitewashed French doors,
open to the sugary sands.
It isn’t hard to believe
in the length of her hair
or the highlights that shine
with an angelic glow.
But isn’t skin, up close, always
pitted with disappointment?
And that book she’s holding,
I can only hope it’s a prop—
a silly vampire novel
or a dime store romance
which surely pales
when compared to her own reality—
exhilarating and charmed.
We mere mortals
exist in houses on another page
in another state
equipped only with our wit
and our deep thoughts
to entice our lovers
on the languid afternoons
when we secretly hope
that women like her don’t read Pinker’s
“How the Mind Works”
in their spare time
or work toward law degrees
from Harvard.
We are unable to imagine the luck
of being awarded brains too
with those thighs as long and smooth
as our lover’s dream.
My envy
isn’t a wish for hardship or harm,
just that she can’t cook
and that she goes home tired
to a second hand couch.

DeMaris Gaunt

Photo by Deanna Morae


Ivy and league are two words
independently definable
and somewhat pleasing to the ear,
and when we read them together,
like green energy
or civil liberty,
we understand that an improvement
has been made—
a sort of elevation into what is desirable,
even though it might seem out of reach.
Invoking education
and power and freedom
is often a stimulant for the oppressed,
who, in their oppression, feel righteous,
and it feels satisfying and good enough
to stay put and continue to covet
and want and wish for—
and they who understand this
understand that there are those who don’t,
and they are like the small circles of oil
that float effortlessly above the water,
and they are the well-greased cogs
who turn toward progress
in spite of the weight they must bear.



DeMaris Gaunt