Category Archives: Uncategorized

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?

Stones

This is the winter of my life—
cold, vacant, sad.
All those words that describe
emptiness
sitting alongside
something otherwise beautiful,
otherwise full of obligations
I don’t mind.
But I keep finding stones
that asked to be picked up
and carried
in the pocket of my heart
and it’s hard to say no
to their beauty, their form,
to the way they feel inside my hand—
but they are accumulating
like snow drifting into my door
making it impossible
to leave, to exchange them
for something lighter, like love.

 

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
2-2-19

Lesson

We are taught
it isn’t right to feel good
or satisfied
or clean
about parting.
About leaving the future
out of sex—
but I have enjoyed
the present of the now
the gift of nothing else
to look forward to—
just one night
spent without fear or hopes.
Just a few hours
where the only thing that lived
or breathed
or mattered
was his body
swollen like a wet sponge
over the blackboard of my life—
erasing everyone else
who made promises
impermanent as chalk
to make me believe
they’d still be here
now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
1-12-19

“Summer Evening” by Edward Hopper, 1947

 

Last First Day

Together
we made his bed
on the last day of the year
in a room in a house
that belonged to his friend
and the white sheets
spotted with wildflowers
would become the only garden
we would ever have a chance
to lie down in
because this country
wasn’t his home anymore
and the plane ticket
in his soft brown leather bag
couldn’t be exchanged
for a future in my arms–
where I held him
for five beautiful hours
before I had to give him up
to the years ahead
which would never include me.

 

 

DeMaris
1-1-19

“Lamia” by John William Waterhouse, 1905 (not the full painting)

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

 

In Flames

After I forgave you
again
for leaving me alone
for making me wait
for making promises
that weren’t quite promises
I tried to step outside
the room of my heart
and look back into my life
through the eyes of a stranger
who might be passing by—
and if they saw in my window
a tiny glow
they might assume the source
was a Rockwellian scene
of contentment—
a woman waiting by the fire
for her love—
but if their curiosity
led them to step closer,
to peek inside the door—
they would see me
holding a torch
above a flammable pile
of our history—
deciding whether or not
to set the whole thing
on fire.

 

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
12-3-18

“By the Hearth” by Platt Powell Ryder, 1881 (American painter, 1821-1896)

 

 

“Art About the Land”

The doors open at 6, and there you are
under the familiar stained glass atrium
where you kissed your girl a long time ago
when you thought no one was looking
and now you’re alone in the aftermath of love
feeling torn apart
by the painting of the White River
where you spent one hundred summer days
floating alongside her
certain you would never reach an end
and the close-up photo of the stones hit you hard
as you remembered
how sore your shoulder felt the next day
after skipping so many of them across Sugar Creek
because she looked at you with awe
every time you landed one on the other shore
and you know the mosaic tree
wasn’t made by her hands
but you stand there anyway, remembering
the times you watched her cut the glass
and you always wanted her to make you
a stained glass window
with various oak leaves to remind you
of that trip you took to Mammoth Cave
and you know you taught her everything
she knows about spring wildflowers
which are on display in watercolors and in oils
and there is even an abstract sculpture
of what appears to be bleeding hearts
which reminds you of a poem she wrote for you
and you keep your eye on the door, believing
it’s possible she might walk through it—
that she might be trying to find you again
in this tangled mess of weeds.

 

 

DeMaris
11-29-18

“Sierra Nevada Morning” by Albert Bierstadt, 1870