The Call

The Call
(For Sarah)

You don’t make it – the call—
because you’re unsure
if you’re really that close
to falling into the category
of folks who go belly up
if an ambulance isn’t called.
And as much as you love
a story with a happy ending,
attention that isn’t called
to you is the best kind.
So you watch the sky darken
with your lifeline within reach.
Anyone you called would come
and sit with you as your chest
caved in and you’d swear
you hadn’t touched the bottle
in five days, and it would be true—
but no one would believe you.


DeMaris Gaunt

Painting by Salvador Dali





Later in your life
after you’ve become
a closeted
functioning alcoholic
you realize
you’d been too hard
on all those folks
you knew to be dependent
on their loved ones
to make sense
of their happiness
and worth.
You’d been too hard
on everyone.
Even the dishes
waiting in the sink
tell you how much
trouble it is
to be so necessary
and so abused—
and you couldn’t agree
more unless
the comment came
from someone you loved
who was real
and sober—
and recovering from
the daunting chore
of giving up
the delusion
that they had it all
under some kind
of complete control.


DeMaris Gaunt


“My god”
was never something I said
when something shocked
or amazed or angered me—
back when I believed
in that thing which was once
at the center of my imagination—
that thing I thought
had the power to crush me
with an intelligence
I was too stupid to understand.

“My god.”
Still, it’s something I’ll never say—
for different reasons now.
The fear of punishment
for taking the lord’s name in vain
is as potent as the fires of hell—
which means there’s no power
in that phrase and no power
in that awful place
that exists only in the imaginary
glitches of our intelligent minds.


DeMaris Gaunt



The childless mother
wants to be alone on Mother’s Day
to stare out the window
into the world she no longer shares
with the little boy, who long ago,
brought her glistening dandelions
bursting from his little brown hand
and decorated her hair
with the yellow joy of life—
treasures collected after a storm
turned the earth to mud.
That day wasn’t Mother’s Day—
but it’s the one she remembers
on the second Sunday each May
when she’d give anything to go back
and withdraw the reprimand
for the traces of mud he left
on his way to make her smile.


DeMaris Gaunt

Narcoleptic Daydream

Everything you do
seems like a step
in the right direction
as you lift your foot
or your hand
or your heart
toward motivation –
and even though
you always end up here
in the same kind of
stifled narcoleptic
afternoon, you try
to believe that one day
you’ll accomplish
at least one or two
of the things
that keep pulling you
into that daydream
that always comes
between you
and the actual work
you must do to
become something
more than this.


DeMaris Gaunt

Candy Bar

There’s nothing wrong today
so I drove to the dollar store
for a king size candy bar
which I ate entirely by myself
in five minutes or less—
and even though I’d never do
such a thing if I were sober,
I felt like I deserved some sort
of reward for living through
a perfectly mundane afternoon
which could only be improved
by risking the life of everyone
on the road for a chocolate bar
filled with caramel, and make it
back home in time to read
a bedtime story to a kid whose
existence is the sole reason
I haven’t yet found myself
trading in my boredom for
the west coast roads that drip
into the ocean like they can’t
make up their mind if they want
to offer you a view of the edge
or tempt you to drive off of it.


DeMaris Gaunt