Your Last Day

I wasn’t prepared
for that last day
like I should have been—
all those years ago
when the new year
meant a new job
and more money — and no you
to talk to anymore
as we sipped our morning coffee
from those mugs you made
out of red clay—
and I broke one
a couple of years ago
and almost cried because
it meant so much
and I knew I only had
three more mugs
(three more chances)
to keep you forever
in this solid form
with those shallow spirals
made by your fingers
as the clay spun inside your palms—
and even though I knew
I’d never give you the poems
I wrote about you,
I wasn’t prepared to hear
that today was your last day
and there won’t be another chance
if I ever change my mind.


DeMaris Gaunt

Just Below the Surface

In a parallel universe
or on a future day, perhaps,
I’d like to tell you how much
I’ve loved the ones
who came before you—
maybe sit down at the table
with the shoebox
full of love letters
you know nothing about
and rifle through my history
of loss that made our love
and I think it would be
kind of liberating
to hear your stories too
and invite our hearts
to be broken one more time
while I talk about Walter
and that wonderful winter
we spent in Duluth
and you could talk about Rose
and how you still
worry about her even though
she canceled the wedding
and moved 
back home to Israel—
and for just one afternoon
we wouldn’t have to pretend
that certain names never
float to the surface
of our memory
or that we wouldn’t love
to run into them again
while we were alone
in some cozy café
with nothing more urgent
than our wish
to hear where their life has gone
since that day we were
no longer part of it.

DeMaris Gaunt


Tiny and warm,
your cabin hugged us all:
your folks,
your brothers,
sister and all the kids—
and outside
we were surrounded
by velvet green meadows
which gave way
to a wall of trees glistening
with their last yellow hope
just as the light
invited the four of us
to walk into the landscape—
and my husband and I
thought you and your wife
were as happy
as we were that day,
and maybe you were
in that lovely afternoon
with our bellies full
and pumpkin pie
waiting to be sliced.
Only now is it clear
that deconstruction
doesn’t always  take its time—
beauty can peak
like the autumn leaves
and then disappear
into a wasteland
of colorless cold.
Everything you owned
was divided, sold—
the tiny warm cabin
no longer part of our holidays—
and those of us
whose marriages
hadn’t failed as completely
as yours
gave thanks the following year
when we learned
that you had stumbled
upon it again – Love –
and we took another walk
into a different landscape,
the four of us—
changed, ordinary—
still so much beauty
clinging like leaves
before the fall.


DeMaris Gaunt


I’ve been alive now
for 17 days.
That’s the number of mornings
I’ve lifted my head
away from the new pillow
and felt the metallic air
rush like a winter storm
into the warm
cocoon of my covers.
None of the problems of living
have been solved
and none have abated
since my close proximity to death,
but there’s an absence
of hope I’ve decided
I can live with after all—
and it will be the goal
of this second life
to polish that emptiness
until it shines.


DeMaris Gaunt


Without Shelter


You disapprove.
I think of the refugees.
How can I complain?
You do not look at me.
I think of the refugees.
How can I complain?
You do not speak to me.
I think of the refugees.
How can I complain?
You do not wear your ring.
I think of the refugees.
How can I complain?
You leave.
I think of the refugees.
How can I complain?
You don’t call.
I think of the refugees.
How can I complain?
When will this scale be tipped
so I can feel what I feel
without guilt?
You don’t come home.
I think of the refugees.
Sometimes we’re all
without shelter.



DeMaris Gaunt

About this poem:

With the current refugee crisis, I find it so conflicting to embrace my own occasional feelings of sadness or uncertainly.  There’s nothing in my life that compares to the plight of the masses who have fled their country to escape terrorists, and have lost everything as a result.   As good as my life is, and as grateful as I am to feel safe, I still sink into moments of melancholy and doubt, and I struggle with guilt for not existing in a constant state of gratitude.  But the truth is, I don’t think it’s helpful to be constantly coaching myself back to a state of joy.  Joy is out there, and it can wait.  I say feel what you feel.  Sit with those feelings and get to know them.  They want your attention for a reason.  They have as much power and purpose and value as your gratitude.

Anxiety Problem

You might
have a problem
with anxiety
if you daydream
about how nice
it would be
if a car
or a semi truck
rear ended you
on the way
to the soirée
where you
will be expected
to do nothing
but speak about
the things you love
which should be
easy because
all you need to do
is speak your truth
and smile
and shake hands
and thank everyone
for coming—
and if it were only
that easy
there wouldn’t be
any reason
to have your therapist
on speed dial
but you don’t have
a therapist yet
and you promise
if you survive
the night
you’ll get one.


DeMaris Gaunt