Unsent Invitation

You’re invited to
accompany me for drinks
or a walk or a swim
after the main event
begins to drag into evening.
I promise to act so nonchalant
no one would suspect
I’ve been in love with you
from the moment
I saw your picture
on the dust jacket.
It was all those words
you strung together
that carried me away
and left me stranded inside
an imagination
that persuaded me to think
it might be possible
you would be curious
about a poet
at the writers conference
who looked like me
and could barely speak
without stuttering
when she asked if you wanted
to exit the hotel for a while
to get to know each other
off the page
before returning
to the question mark
of where to sleep
and with who.


DeMaris Gaunt


Between Us

is what’s between us
even when I can see you
up close so clearly
hundreds of miles away
because I have
this picture of you—
and your earnest eyes
have no idea
who it is who scrutinizes
their paleness from afar—
and I’ve fallen in love
with the way the mind
can close the distance
and open doors
and erase any gap
or thread that comes
between us.


DeMaris Gaunt




How We Get Here


Several years before my birth
my mother said I do
to a man she would never love
as much as the one who came and went
before him—
a man who worked for her father
chopping meat in the family grocery store—
taller than my dad, with dark curly hair
and an age that carried too many numbers
to be an acceptable match.
And he would never get her parent’s blessing
because his ears didn’t work like everyone else’s
and when he spoke there were whispers
and giggles and sideways glances.
But they ran away together, overnight,
when she was only 17
and when she told me this, I was 30,
which is how old he was then– that young man
who loved her not enough to absorb
the temporary wrath of her family
for what they’d done—
that young man who wouldn’t listen
to his heart, or hers.
He was fired, of course, then moved away.
So here I am—
the result of a failure of nerve—
the result of a lost love, and then a half love.
And this is how most of us get here.


DeMaris Gaunt

Shared Spaces

Some people whistle
and infect the air
with a kind of abandon
I don’t understand.
I envy them
their inhibitions—
their disregard for others
who share the space
without an option
to turn down the volume
or change the station.
I wish my intrusions
were as innocent
as theirs.
All they want
is to enjoy their own music
and to share it with me—
who only knows
how impossible it is
to sound unkind—
or to mention how in love
I am with silence.


DeMaris Gaunt