House of Cards

Flattened,
you stand back
to survey the damage–
you consider how long it took
to perfect those startling
and beautiful angles–
how long it took
to get them just right
so they could support
your next move.
You didn’t realize
the moments of triumph
would be so few and far between–
or that the between
was going to be so full
of uncertainty
and strong winds
there was no way
it could have held together.
So you pick up all those cards
and stuff them in your pocket.
You don’t have the energy
to rebuild what you know now
is only going to fall–
and right now
you don’t even have the heart
to cut — or shuffle the deck.

 

 

 

DeMaris
4-20-18

Double Feature

Friday, almost midnight—
a movie theater mass exodus
into the dim-lit parking lot.
Voices hurry toward sleep
while my keys jingle and unlock
my sleeping god of destinations.
But another movie plays out
in my rear-view mirror—
an un-young couple embrace their wish.
The long strap of her green purse
is a snake on top of her white Nissan—
his body pressed between hers
and his dark blue Honda Accord.
He holds her as if this night
is all they have, have ever had—
as if he’d give anything
to be with her, elsewhere, anywhere
except in the hereafter of two hours
spent in the only dark they could afford—
I imagine them holding hands
in the back row, leaning into a dream
that will never come true—
forgetting about the lives they’ve
stepped out on to be here—
why else would she be crying
if this wasn’t the last scene
in their clandestine romance?
Why else would he still be sitting
in his car long after she drove away?

DeMaris
4-15-18

God Talk

Of all places, a bar
the week after Easter
six women, six men
talking God, talking Jesus
recapping the resurrection
one of the men, of course,
doing most of the talking
and I was so close
I could reach out
and touch his clothes
if I wanted to,
if I wanted to
challenge that faith of his
if I wanted to
ask a few questions
about the mission
god had chosen for him
which was to spread
the Good News like butter
onto this bread of mine
to make sure every unbeliever
knew that an afterlife
was an option
in exchange for reason
in exchange for the kind of
common sense that says
you need to seek forgiveness
from whoever it was
you hurt, injured, or wronged
instead of from a man
who lived and died
fourteen hundred years
before the invention
of the printing press.
So instead of begging
for anyone’s pardon
I head for the door
that leads to a light so bright
it took ten million years more
than just one day to be created
and no one in the world
has ever existed
who I’d ask to pick up
and carry all my burdens
and while they’re at it
pay for my tab.

 

 

 

DeMaris
4-10-18

A Public Place

A public place
is an unfortunate venue
to have the wind
knocked out of you—
to find yourself flattened
after your heart performs
the acrobatic shock and swell
of being caught off-guard
by your brush
with the-never-was
the-not-quite
the-almost-love-of-your-life.
And he sees you
before you can locate
a restroom
or an emergency exit
so you make sure
the smile on your face
appears natural
and that the soul
you don’t believe you have
gives the impression
of being untortured
and maybe even lightweight—
and for the next 10 minutes
you’re on autopilot
watching his mouth move—
the one that kissed you
only once
because one of you
was already married—
and love is bad news
when it has nowhere to go
but into a private cage
now on display
for everyone to see—
and somehow it looks
inconspicuous—
like there was never
a rip or a tear between you.

 

 

 

DeMaris
4-8-18

“Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper, 1942

Raw

So rare
is the steak before me.
Not the rawness
but the frequency.
I can count the years
since I’ve had
a steak like this:
tender
pink
the flavor of reward,
the taste of a craving
finally satisfied.
But the price is so high
I can’t appreciate
the way the seasoning
has been perfected
over time.
I begin to wish
a pizza was before me–
chicken, spinach and tomato.
Those familiar flavors
careening
into a circle of happiness
melted together
at 1000°–
the temperature of my heart
in love with a memory
it isn’t ready to swallow.

 

 

 

DeMaris
4-2-18