The Answer

When I was a younger
version of myself
attending poetry readings
in the afterhours bosom
of the bookstore—
made of amber lit rows
of perforated shelves—
I sought the faces
which looked most
unreadable and wise
and wondered
if there would ever be a time
when I wouldn’t feel curious
about the one single face
I would single out
each time I walked into a room
or walked up to the glowing mic
on stage.
And now that I have the answer,
which was always, to her,
an ambiguous yes,
I wish I could tell her
to just enjoy it—
her inexhaustible hunger—
because she didn’t know then
that it would last forever,
or that it could—
that the answer was no.
That desire would never
stop, abate or cool—
even though she’d already chosen
her favorite poem.


DeMaris Gaunt



Small Fires

So much dreaming last night.
My sister in law was alive again
and laughing about how happy she was—
and I looked closely, and wasn’t surprised
that she was breathing—
but that I couldn’t see any evidence
that a noose had been so tight
around her neck.
And she didn’t seem alarmed
that the man beside me—
the one I melted into—
wasn’t her brother, but a poet
who had opened his arms to me on the train—
and I walked into them as if we had a history
of meeting like that in public places,
in front of ghosts who we knew
would never tell.

DeMaris Gaunt


Things should be done
in order of importance
which means I should exit this room
and enter a state of reflection
before picking up the phone
to offer my condolences
on the death of a certain someone.
After that dreaded
and obligatory task
I should make a few more
phone calls that reinforce my love
to those too far away
to invite to dinner
or to drop in on unexpectedly
on a Sunday afternoon.
But things are never done
in the order of their importance
which is why I’ll just sit here a little longer
watching the sky darken
and descend into shadow
before I go to bed.
I want to cross something simple
off my list, which keeps getting longer
the longer I stare at this page.
The houseplants, for days,
have been thirsty.
They are still alive
and I watch them bow to my power.
The watering can is patient
in the mud sink.
There’s no reason in the world
I can’t fill the goddamn thing with water,
and restore the wilting leaves—
except that it reminds me
how easy it would have been
to make a phone call last week
to someone who will never again
be picking up the phone.

DeMaris Gaunt

Words, Recycled

Nothing new, really.
You’ve said them all before—
arranged and rearranged
until they sound just right
or mean almost what it is
you wish to say.

that something almost unique
can still be said—
that books continue to be written
which use all those words you know
to tell you something you didn’t.

it’s possible to hear them
as if for the first time
when someone says to you what they’ve said
for half a life to someone else:
“I love you”—
And it feels brand new.


DeMaris Gaunt



It never happened.
We never walked together
through the woods
on our favorite seasons.

His broad, sturdy hands
never brushed mine
in the quiet exchange
of a purple wildflower.

I never watched
as he rescued a small robin—
lifting it gingerly
toward the cupped palm
of dried mud and twigs.

He never took my hand
to help me cross the creek
over a fallen tree
as he steadied himself
on small islands of stone.

I never caught him
watching me with curiosity
out of the corner of my eye
as I gazed upward through the trees.

We never got caught in the rain
a mile off the trail, at dusk,
or found an abandoned shelter
without windows or a door
which we could safely lock.

We never acted like modest children
wringing out our clothes,
and he never asked
if I was warm enough.

I never told him that I wasn’t.



DeMaris Gaunt



(Click on the link below, and I’ll read it to you.)

It is innocent, isn’t it?
The places we go without them,
our cherished and beloved ones—

when the song on the radio, say,
lures your heart back to Colorado
to a long ago October

causing you to wonder
how he’s doing now in Estes Park—
if the job worked out,
if he misses you too, sometimes.

It’s the same
with butterscotch milkshakes
and a certain brand of blue jeans—

these landmarks in your history
that appear sometimes like landmines
blasting you back in time.

The dark walnut box
beside your bed is something
he gave you for your 27th birthday.

It contains nothing
but a memory of his smile,
and the silly, naïve promises
both of you made, and broke.

Your lover, too, is innocent
when it goes the other way—
when, unknown to you,

he drifts away with a certain song
or leaves the house mid summer
lured by the need

to take a drive into the past,
alone, to inhale the honeysuckle
that reminds him, always, of her.

DeMaris Gaunt

Moon Poem

bright ball
of borrowed light,
(light which you
charmed away
from the sleeping sun)
you are not
a secondary glow
as Genesis claims
in that first chapter,
but that great
irreplaceable star
of the night-
It’s you
who we wait for.

Most nights,
you’re not quite sure
of yourself
and you only
half smile
or pull the clouds tight
around you
becomes you,
But when you decide
to become
fully who you are,
the whole world stops
and stares.


DeMaris Gaunt