I didn’t—
but I almost did.
No longer
can I say with confidence
“I would never…”
because I know
that I would have—
could have—
couldn’t have
controlled myself,
couldn’t have kept myself
from letting it happen.
But it didn’t happen,
because the timing
was wrong.
All I can say
is that now I know
how it happens—
how easily and innocently
it happens.
And the thing I’ll never say
again, to anyone,
is, “How could you?”

DeMaris Gaunt


It was a lovely sound—
all that autumn color
crunching beneath my steps.
At a broad glance,
the sky was mottled gray
but seemed bright white
when I looked up
through all those branches,
mostly bare and trembling
in the dark coat
of their silhouettes.
Two leaves caught my eye
and caused me to pivot
underneath them,
walk a few steps back
and admire them
for their proximity to the end
of the longest branch,
and for their unwillingness
to fall.
They were so close
they overlapped
and though they both had holes,
one was less infirm
than the other,
and it seemed to me
in that hallowed moment
that I was witnessing some
act of kindness so great
I wanted to give it life—
so I imagined them
with tiny minds
and large emotions,
feeling the comfort that comes
when loved ones
agree to stay close
when a change is about come—
when everything familiar
has fallen away
except the enduring serenity
of friendship and love.


DeMaris Gaunt


For every question
you never ask
there is an honest answer
waiting to be revealed.
It may or may not
lie at the bottom
of an empty bottle of wine
and it might not
be high on that shelf
in the shoebox full
of old love letters
you were never meant to find,
but sometimes it’s on the tip
of my tongue—
the answer.
Just waiting for you to ask.
But you never ask.


DeMaris Gaunt


We carved our pumpkins
that dreadful night
we learned how long
we could expect you to exist
in your current and only form.
Inoperable was the word
we didn’t want to hear
and as we scooped out handfuls
of that stringy pulp,
we tried to focus on your joy
instead of that small round patch of hair
starting to grow back
above your ear.
You were looking forward
to Halloween,
which would be your last,
and the costume you chose a month ago
before we were sure
the countdown was on
happened to be a skeleton
with glowing bones
and a plastic skull mask
with blinking red eyes.
Only now does it seem
a sobering choice.
We lit the Jack-O-Lanterns
and roasted the seeds
and tried to carve happy smiles
into our own faces
because we weren’t sure yet
how to tell you
or if we should,
and I hated those pumpkins
for their bright grins
and removable lids
that could so easily be replaced
after we lifted out what
wasn’t needed,
and because I knew your light
wouldn’t fade so gracefully
when it was your turn to enter
that eternal night.


DeMaris Gaunt


Our small paychecks
afford us a small vacation.
Four days is all.
Not even a week
to leave behind our life
as we know it.
So how important it is
to make it count—
all those seconds
into a few moments
worth remembering!
Even the last few miles
are precious,
and so the vibe, the mystique,
our great escape
was somehow
diminished, relinquished
and maybe even spoiled
when I suggested
we stop for lunch
instead of waiting
another hour
before we got home—
but you didn’t want to
because you were already
making plans to go to the gym
immediately after
we unloaded the car—
no slow transition
back to the familiar,
no snuggly nap
on our comfortable bed,
no decompression
upon re-entry.
You were already back home
without me.
You were already gone


DeMaris Gaunt


The thing about
ending your own life—
or thinking about
what it would look like, sound like,
feel like—
is that you’ve consumed already
every crumb of sympathy
and empathy
and tolerance
from your loved ones,
and now their reserves
are bone dry—
and you’re to blame—
and what it boils down to
is that you want too much
so you end up
sitting alone in a dark room
in front of the computer screen
that offers you a watery blue glow
and a connection to absolutely
but no one in particular
would be alarmed
or interested in you
even if you sent out messages
that whispered
help me
I’m drowning…
And so the thing is—
you can’t do it.
You can’t become that brand
of public drama you despise.
But you want to.
You consider it.
You type it out.  Delete it.
You just want someone to notice
how deep you are, how only the tips
of your fingers are above the surface—
and every time
you scream for help
you take on a little more water.



You can cruise along for months
if not years
through the peaceful landscape
of your daily life—
greeting your loved one
in the morning,
touching them in loving
and affectionate ways,
talking and laughing easily for miles
and miles until something breaks
in the system.  It’s the engine.
Some tangle in the gears.
And all those years
of being well oiled and greased
have not welded into you
any inkling of how to reassemble
all the parts just right
so you can get back on the road
and arrive safely back at home.


DeMaris Gaunt

Photo Credit:
Brian Wells