Navigational Error

4 a.m. isn’t a good time
to walk through the door
when you are supposed to be
sleeping on the couch
where you’ve slept
for almost half your marriage
because the bed wasn’t big enough
for you after she decided
she wanted to sleep
with all your flaws
packed in between you.
And even though intimacy
is a fond memory without hope
of resurrection,
the hours-old memories
twisting in your body
won’t allow you to be believed
when you tell her you
got lost on the way home
from the midnight movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
5-31-18

“Interior” by Edgar Degas, 1868-1869

Tightrope

Driving down the road
you become aware of how lost
your mind is
and you wonder how
you’re keeping it between the lines
on this tightrope
taught as the invisible line
between lovers
and you could so easily fall off
on one side or the other
as you watch the rain
pixelating the windshield
and the wipers
are like an old pocketwatch
hypnotizing you
as you go back and forth
between your wishes
and your needs.
And someone else is in control–
that man you inexplicably love.
The one who offers you nothing,
yet you are like a starved child
chasing after it fast as you can.

 

 

 

DeMaris
5-30-18

Fairy Tale

The atheist pretends
for a moment
that he has a soul
shaped like a heart
given to him before birth
by Yahweh or Zeus or Baal—
it doesn’t matter
who is responsible
for this flat Valentine—
it’s his to keep
or give away
or cut into pieces like confetti
falling from grace,
which seems to him to be
the best way to celebrate this life
which has no one to thank for it
but the two people
who believed his birth
was a blessing
from their favorite god.

 

 

 

DeMaris
5-27-18

 

 

Rejuvenation

He enters her dark room
like a ghost
illuminated by memories
woven into the fifty-year-old shirt
he’s wearing—
the one his father never gave him—
the one he acquisitioned
after a soul passed from this life
into ashes—
and for all he knows
his father wore
that soft blue polyester shirt
with the once-fashionable collar
to work and back home
or to gamble away a paycheck
at the track
or to visit his mother’s grave
or to pick out paint
for the bedroom of his youngest son
or to a hundred church picnics
or to a meeting
with other intellectuals
to discuss the impact of Vietnam—
and maybe once upon a time
his father was disrobed
by a woman who wasn’t his wife
and maybe the shirt remembers
how it feels
to be unbuttoned
by a passion that doesn’t exist
back home in the bedroom
where it hangs.

 

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
5-21-18

 

“Four Lane Road” by Edward Hopper, 1956

Nights Like This

Nights like this
you wish he would
show up at your door
out of the blue sorrow
you’ve been swimming in.
Nights like this
you imagine yourself letting go.
You imagine breaking
the tight grip of every restraint
propriety has on you.
Nights like this
you are alone enough
to imagine yourself
out of bounds.
You are alone enough
to imagine yourself bold.
Nights like this
are the nights
he never comes.

 

5-18-18

 

 

 

Out Loud

Hearing myself speak
to a dear old friend
at the grocery store
about the one I loved
was a revelation—
and pulled out of me a few facts
I’d never heard out loud—
facts like:
I loved him because…
But this…
But that…
We didn’t…
We couldn’t…
and I watched pity
twist her face into a grimace
filled with an empathy
reserved for those
who should know better
than to put all one’s eggs
into one basket—
and because I had a dozen
in my cart as well as
frozen meatballs
and frozen fish,
I thought it best to part
before I let the truth
finish another sentence.
I said, He didn’t want me
to put my life on hold…
but the truth
was finished when the words
he didn’t want me
landed in my ears
and put a fresh sting
into my long dry eyes.

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
5-1-18

“Two Women on the Hillside” by Franz Marc, 1906