Bad Poetry

More than decoding trigonometry
in high school is how much I hate poetry
when it’s bad and still makes its way
like a laughing FUCK YOU onto the pages
of prestigious publications that promise
news and art and poetry for poetry’s sake.

Poetry for poetry’s sake is as empty
as a dry water bucket in the desert—
cold as a wet blanket on a chilly night.
Put down your pen if your words can’t heal
or break or stir. I don’t need to bleed,
but you better prick the skin.

DeMaris Gaunt


No Music

So so soothing it is
to think of you
when days are rough
as sandpaper

So so beautiful it is
to watch you
on the spot lit stage
of memory

So so peaceful it is
to keep you alive
wondering if we might have
fallen in love.

So so strange it is
that beauty
is the trigger
on the gun of our eyes

So so sad I am
that you will never know
how you filled
my emptiness

So so sorry I am
that our abbreviated scenes
had no soundtrack
no music
no rewind button
or forwarding address—

just a few words
from our suspended smiles
before we passed
on the sidewalk
keeping the beat



DeMaris Gaunt



Graph Paper

If you want
to understand
why silence trumped
my love for him
you need to imagine the days
as paper.
Graph paper.
Not a single sheet,
but the entire pad.

100 pages of 1,496 squares.

That’s one hundred days
and one thousand
four hundred and ninety six
thoughts on every page
each page 24 hours.

And now,
imagine on each page
just one square colored red.
This is a weakness.
His weakness.
His daily weakness.
The kind of weakness
most of us have for beauty
and sugar and sex.

The chance
that he would
love me back
is as small as the probability
that, blindfolded,
I could open the pad
to any page
and draw a small circle
around his red square.

The odds are in his favor.
Silence is in mine.

DeMaris Gaunt


It would do no good
to ask you nicely
to stop bothering me
with your good manners
and your white teeth
shining from your smile.

I wish you would go away
and dial down the charm
of your vulnerabilities.

You keep showing up
on the newsstands and
and in the bookstores
and onstage in your
cowboy boots and purple tie.

That goddamned purple tie.

I won’t speak to you.
Even if you find me
in the library where whispers
could carry secrets
from our mouths to our ears
I wouldn’t speak to you.

It does no good
to run from you.
However fast I’m able to go
or how dark the room gets
when I turn off the light
I see you.

No matter how naked
my lover has stripped me
it’s you who move inside me.


DeMaris Gaunt

Loved Ones

Sometimes all you want
is for them to leave.
To leave the room.
To leave the house.
To leave you alone
just for a little while
so you can type out poems
or stir the soup into a
mesmerizing whirlpool.
But you don’t possess
the kind of grit it takes
to be unkind
so you watch a stuffed monster
do a few new tricks
and you praise the imagination
of your brown eyed boy.
It’s in the best interest
of a good marriage
to come when you’re called
and to not appear annoyed
when you’ve walked downstairs
to find a Youtube video
cued up ready
to entertain you with
a ten minute comedy bit
that had your husband in tears.
You will laugh
and that will be your sacrifice.
Later you will be the only one
awake with thoughts uninterrupted
and you will smile
as you think of all the sacrifices
made for you.
Earlier today
your son didn’t want to go
with daddy
to the hardware store
so you could have your peaceful hour.
Your husband didn’t want
to hang the new shelves
you wanted for the laundry room.
But he did.


DeMaris Gaunt

Freeze Frame

Back when photographs
came from film
wound up tight as the fear of heights
inside my chest
I stood on the sharp red edge
of the Grand Canyon
and smiled
as if that camera
was going to remember it better than me—
but the delicate pink streaks
that hovered in that orange sky
still cling to the black frame of my memory.

I never saw those pictures.
Never took them anxiously
to the one hour developer or filed them
carefully into a keepsake album.

Back when photographs
came from film,
those glossy spools were contained
in small black canisters
that became wheels of speed
racing toward gravity
if you dropped them accidentally
on the slightest slope
near the deepest
deadliest most beautiful edge—
you will never forget.
You have no choice but to remember.


DeMaris Gaunt