Category Archives: Musings

Out of Reach

He said it was years after the fact—
years after he walked away
before he realized it was the right thing to do.

He spent years waiting for her to leave him—
her husband.
He waited years for her to become his.

She went so far as to make promises on paper.
Promises he thought would be proof, one day,
that she loved him back—

that she wanted the rest of her life
synchronized with his.

But always—
always there was something blistering
between them.

Birthdays, anniversary’s,
graduations, first loves, a driver’s license,
a new car, a job hunt, motherly responsibilities—

all these events that accumulated
into an ongoing delay.

Even her beauty became tiresome.
He found himself not-quite-in-love-as-he-once-was.

And he began to breakdown, he said,
comparing it to the way one sip of tequila
leads to another.

And all of a sudden
he was incapable of moving—

and he said he realized it had been a while
since he felt drunk on her.
He’d been so long in the hangover—

and all he wanted to do
was get clean and put that bottle out-of-reach
on the highest shelf.

 

 

DeMaris
3-14-19

How Does it Look?

With tons of help from my family, I built a lovely home in the woods. It’s my dream come true and I’m so fortunate in so many ways. My family is healthy, I have a job, I have food, and I can pay my bills. But I can barely pay my bills. Barely.

I was in Goodwill yesterday and again today. I made a small purchase each visit. If you’ve ever been to Goodwill, you know that they ask if you’d like to round your purchase up to the nearest dollar and your change will go toward education.

In theory, I think this is a great idea. It allows people to do something small that adds up to something big. Even if you’ve never been to Goodwill, I’m sure you’ve been to the grocery store or any number of other retail establishments that ask if you’d like to donate a dollar to a children’s hospital or the Children’s Miracle Network, or the Humane Society, ad infinitum.

While it’s a great thing that these places can raise money almost effortlessly, there is often pressure to donate, which I really really don’t like. Especially when there are people behind you. It’s like advertising you’re a heartless wretch if you say no.

Yesterday I said yes and donated almost 60 cents. I will choose products at the grocery store based on a 10 cent price difference. I bet you do too.

Today I said no. I kept my 20 cents. 20 cents is kind of a big deal. It’s a big difference when you’re talking about the price of a gallon of gas, or a gallon of milk. 20 cents is how much it costs me to list an item for sale on Etsy for 4 months. I pick up pennies on the sidewalk or the street or the parking lot. They go into a jar that accumulates, and when I cash it in it’s always about $100. The small stuff adds up.

There was no one behind me in line today, which is why I said no. It was only the cashier who I had to look in the eye with shame. And I felt shamed over 20 cents. Twenty effing cents. The whole drive home I felt terrible inside. I felt judged. I felt like I should have explained why I didn’t round up. I am trying to justify why I didn’t just donate the 20 effing cents.

I was so shaken by the experience that it makes me not want to shop in Goodwill again. But I’ve had that feeling before, and I always go back. Because, well, I can find good deals on things I need.

I know what poor looks like. I also know what poor doesn’t look like. Sometimes poor wears a disguise. Sometimes it looks miserly and stingy.

Dropping the two dimes into my change jar sounds like I got away with something selfish. But mostly, it sounds like music.

So what about you? How do you feel about being asked to donate? Are you happy to, or does it ever make you feel uncomfortable? If you decline, do you give a reason?

Speculation

Watching him
I imagine he is serious, intellectual—
too good-looking and well-dressed
to be a failure at anything.
And the laptop holding his focus
must contain a secret or two about his life
or maybe all of them are being corralled
into a memoir I’d pay a lot to read.
And the pensive brow
behind his thin rimmed glasses
makes me wonder if maybe
he’s typing a resignation letter
to his boss or to his lover or his wife
in which he’s apologizing
for the wasted time, for the years it took
to discover exactly what he didn’t want—
which might explain why he’s been here
in the lodge for days, alone,
speaking and looking at no one
except for me
when he asks if I can recommend a trail—
and because the woods are where I answer
all my own questions
I tell him any of them
will take him where he needs to go.

 

 

 

 

DeMaris Gaunt
12-28-18

“April Wind” by Andrew Wyeth, 1952

 

Street Corner

It’s 10:50 a.m.
and no calls are coming in
from employers
needing my un-degreed skills
to wash dishes or make beds
or sell shoes
or dispatch emergency vehicles
or cash paychecks—
and I haven’t had a payday in a while
but there’s still food
in the fridge and in the pantry
and the electricity hasn’t
been disconnected
and even though
I was only half-joking
with my ten-year-old when I said
I hope I can pay the bills this month
his decade on this planet
has been sufficient
for him to understand poverty
and to cause in him enough anxiety
to suggest we find some cardboard
and make a sign for me to hold
on the street corner
and he didn’t understand
why I said I would never do that
and I told him about pride
and he told me he’d rather me lose it
than the house we just moved into
and I told him that would be a last resort
and now it’s 11:00 a.m.
and I’m thinking about
that cardboard box in my closet
full of my childhood dreams
that could be emptied out
and repurposed with the irony
of a black permanent marker.

 

 

 

DeMaris
10-16-18

“Migrant Mother” by Dorthea Lange, 1936

Introducing Gut Punch Poetry

Hey Friends!

I started a YouTube channel for my poetry! It’s called Gut Punch Poetry.

I’ll still be posting here, but if you want to hear me read my work, please subscribe!

You can like, share, comment, and ask questions! It will feel more engaging and personal.

I’ve been putting it off because I didn’t feel I had the right setup (the right camera and audio equipment, the right space, the right lighting, etc…) BUT I just needed to BEGIN.

I figure I can make improvements over time, and I’m sure I’ll look back on my early videos with shame and embarrassment, but I had to start somewhere!

Welcome!

Falling

Parrish Broady—
a boy who hadn’t reached out
to grab my memory
in a long damn time.
But driving fast down 46
I see a truck waiting for its turn
to pull into traffic.
Broady Electric.
Blue letters.
The association begins.
A middle aged man
behind the wheel.
Middle age
never grayed the hair
of Parrish Broady.
Never calloused his soft hands.
Middle age didn’t arrive
with a birthday cake blazing
or a crisis of identity loitering
in his high school yearbooks.
Parrish Broady—
the boy with the strange name—
more haunting
now that he’s gone—
now that I have lived
more than double his short life.
Parrish Broady—
the boy
who must have climbed that tree
a hundred times—
that tree that was finally able
to reach its branches
into the powerlines
like fingers searching blindly
for the switch in a dark room.
And he perished—
the young boy
the son
the little brother
the friend
the beloved and adventurous kid
who must have mistaken
that dark limb for the one
that would keep him
from falling.

 

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
6-7-18

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