No Words

Wouldn’t it be
so much easier
if we could wear them
on our sleeves?
These hearts
that are so much heavier
than we expected
and so much more complex
than a construction paper cutout
on Valentine’s Day.
If only we didn’t have to explain
what happened long ago
to make us flinch
or cry, or run—
we wouldn’t need words
to paint the picture
of our deconstruction—
we’d just lift our wrists
collectively into the air
and everyone would gasp
in recognition
and in awe.

DeMaris Gaunt


you want the mountains
so badly
you have to throw
your car keys across the room
and cover your face
with both of your hands
for an entire minute
and hope you have the will
to walk over to the mantle
and look at the photo
of your second-grade son
who would become
as unstable as ash
if you decided
you couldn’t wait
another ten years
before you walked out
on every promise
you ever made—
so you stumble through
another day
that isn’t heaven
but is nowhere close to hell—
and you commit
to another decade,
day by day –
knowing your beloved child will,
by then,
have his own beloved—
his own set of hearts
to start breaking—
and his own gray mountain
looking glorious
in the dark blue distance.

DeMaris Gaunt

A Little Darkness

Some say
it’s a darkness—
but I say the light
is a little better
and little softer
as it comes in filtered
through the gauzy pinprick
of an alcoholic beverage—
when your focus is a red laser
that keeps skipping around—
which is the reason
you can’t drive – because
there’s only the steering wheel,
or only the gas,
or only the touchy brakes—
and you can’t possibly
work them all at the same time
when your eyes
just want to close
and feel the fluffy air
spinning around you
like pink cotton candy
at the state fair – so soft
that all you want to do
is write another poem
about love –
which is so often
just another word
for darkness.


DeMaris Gaunt

Thunderstorm, 2 a.m.

It hasn’t happened yet—
that thing you dread.
But you’re sure it’s coming
toward you like the
red splotches on the radar
making their way
to your front door.
You can almost hear
the tap tap tap on your
stained glass windows
and you brace yourself
for the kind of wind
that can rip up trees
and snap the roots right off
and leave the branches
reaching up for help
that will never come.


DeMaris Gaunt

Moon Poem

Posting this again, in honor of the rare lunar eclipse tonight…


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
is marvelous on you,
But when you decide
to become
fully who you are,
the whole world stops
and stares.

DeMaris Gaunt

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Things happened
that weren’t particularly
memorable or wonderful
or exciting today—
but I was alive with all senses intact,
and I smelled the roses in a literal way
when a child no more than five
ran right into me at the park,
fleeing her mother’s disapproval
over the handful of wild blossoms
she’d picked while her mother’s
attention was on her phone—
and I wanted to tell the child
to hold onto those roses
and run a little faster
while she’s still young enough
to believe that beauty is worth
such stunning futility.
But I was silent—
which is what, when grown,
we’ve learned so well to be.

DeMaris Gaunt

In Pieces

What value
has an ancient vase?
Japanese or Native American—
it doesn’t matter
which dynasty,
or what tribe—
the maker and admirers
are long dead
and not even their ghosts
attempt to quarrel
with our judgments.
And what if—
at the museum,
behind the glass case,
the balance is compromised
by a shaking of earth
or careless hand—
what then?
The pieces have broken
their promise to be whole
which breaks our commitment
to their worth
which is nothing at all
how we treat the pieces
of a lost child’s life—
every torn drawing preserved,
every clay animal precious
whether or not a leg is missing
or an ear chipped off—
and nothing in the world
will ever mean more.

DeMaris Gaunt

Vincent Van Gogh as a boy.