Breakdown

For months, weeks, days
you’ve been falling in love
with his surface and his pretty eyes
and the way he sees the world
as a broken toy
he’s determined to fix—
and you love the sound of his voice
teaching you the Latin names
of every wildflower and tree
that grows along the river—
and you smile when he smiles
as the sandhill cranes fly home
and when the monarchs return
from their winter retreat—
and you love the way he loves you
so freely and correctly,
without expectations or demands—
and now that you’ve broken
the surface and reached his depth
you know you can’t ask him
to belong to you—which would be
like asking a wild thing
to feel free inside a cage.

 

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
3-31-17

 

 

 

Mad Love

Madness.
This is what you want.
This is what you hope for
crave
desire.
This is what you’ve never had.
You want love to mean necessity
no matter what.
You want love to mean
whatever it takes.
You want love
to be waiting up for you
longing for you
searching for you
carving out a place for you
dying for a moment with you—
sometimes you want love to say
just a minute
to everything but you—
You,
who would give life and limb
to hold such passion in your arms—
to breathe it
swallow it
become it—
this is what you want
on a night like this
when everything you have to give
is contained inside you
boiling
steaming
waiting to be wanted
and consumed—
all of it going
to such terrible waste.

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
3-1-17

 

“Lady of Shalott” John William Waterhouse, 1888

Another Sunday Afternoon

You were already hanging on
by a thread today
when you answered the phone
with as much normal in your voice
as you could muster
and you listened to your spouse
explain the need for something
unneeded
and you don’t have the patience
or the desire
to pay attention anymore
to what amounts to gibberish
after the mad money
goes up in smoke every afternoon
so you hung up the phone
and packed your bag
and wished upon a star
you could be gone when he gets home
but you just sit on the bed
with the keys in your shaking hands
because you know
you have nowhere else to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
3-26-17

“Repose” by John Singer Sargent, 1911

 

 

Modern Complexity

Days like this
remind you how silly it is
to get too comfortable
with his skin next to yours
since you can be
turned inside out so easily
when he reminds you
in an innocent and flippant
kind of way
that you’re not the only one
he loves or likes to please—
and because you are
a scavenger for his affection
you laugh and smile
and pretend it’s perfectly
alright with you
that he goes home
hoping to get lucky with her
and for some reason
he wants you to know it.

 

 

 

DeMaris
3-25-17

 

 

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
possible—
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
11-27-15

How to Forgive

I can remember
with clarity
how much I hated
my father
after my mother told me
that he’d cheated
back when I was only
five years old
and for years
I couldn’t look at him
without feeling
like he betrayed me too
even though I read
Bridges of Madison County
twice
and watched the movie
seventeen times
and I loved the way
those two characters
loved each other
despite the fact
that Francesca was married
and I forgave them
for making love
on the living room floor
which is where
I’ve found myself lately
beside a man
who never meant
to become my lover
or the kind of man
who’d make it possible
for me to realize
how fast a grudge
can turn to empathy
and all of a sudden
I am the one who is sorry
for all those years
I acted like I could never
be swept away.

 

 

 

DeMaris
3-23-17