Category Archives: Writing

Backdrop

There were so many days
before you
filled with joy
filled with wonder and curiosity
and the fine mystery
of my own imagination
there was no you
to want
to follow
to dissect like a frog
full of a hundred round eggs
full of potential—
before you
there was a desire for you
a place for you
so deep and holy
my emptiness expanded
until it found you
until you became real one day
on the edge of the woods
and what happened after that
would become the backdrop
for this day of grief and
terrible loss
that is the beginning
of so many days to come
where you will exist in my past—
the sweet perfume
of every season
the taste of bitterness
I almost pray
will give way to the sweetest
of memories
we will always share.

 

 

 

DeMaris
8-20-19

“View From Fern Tree Rock, Jamaica” by Martin Johnson Heade, c.1870

Deadlines

Today
someone
somewhere
has a week
to make a choice—
to stay or not to stay
to re-up the lease
or gamble
everything on a job
three states away—
and someone
somewhere
has a week
to decide
between two burdens:
student loans
or another bleak year
flipping burgers
every day
until midnight —
and someone
somewhere
has a week
to decide
if the second heart
beating
inside their body
will be given
a chance to grow
to the size
of its fathers’ brutal fist—
and somewhere
someone else
is standing at the deadline
having had a week
to choose
whether to walk
toward love
or away…

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
8-4-19

54 Minutes

The crisis text line

doesn’t tell you up front

that your responses

need to take less

than 5 minutes

or you’ll be bumped —

so the first time

I try to connect

I spend 8 minutes

typing out my crisis

only to have a message

pop up “failed to deliver”

so I try again

after I see the prompt

telling me to try again

and it seems my crisis

is too long

too detailed

too personal

and then the real human

texts me her name, Katrina,

and says it’s best to talk

and I tell her I’ve been trying

and she tells me to try again

and I do

and again the message appears

in all its splendid truth:

“Failed to deliver”

and I agree with that diagnosis

I give up

I put the phone down.

Old Home Movie

Everyone is ten years younger
in the home we used to live in
where there is a birthday party
for a one year old, now eleven —
he and I are watching it together,
the only survivors
witnessing the difference between
how he was loved and how
his older brother was treated
as if he were getting in the way
as if he wasn’t even supposed to be
in the picture or the video
or our lives —
as if he was a fly being swatted away
by the tail of the monster holding
the camcorder.

 

 

Mechanical Room

In the basement
in the home he’s lived in for sixteen years
the man finds a leak in the water heater
while he’s cleaning out the mechanical room—
while he’s rummaging through piles
of tools and tape and fixtures and nails
he’ll no longer need—
he notices the damp corner, dimly lit—
the concrete darker, glistening,
cold and musty, filling him with dread
because he’ll need to fix it himself—
because he’s not going to pay another man
to come into his house
and down the narrow basement steps
to witness what it looks like
to dismantle a life from the inside out—
a few boxes marked with his name,
the rest marked with hers—
and he doesn’t want to explain to anyone,
especially another man,
that he couldn’t fix it, even though he had the tools.
It’s surreal enough that he’ll pay an attorney
to divide his life in half, jaggedly,
like the teeth on his hand saw, barely used.
The man picks it up, considers all the things
he never got around to building—
considers all the lives he’s about to cut down.

 

 

 

DeMaris
7-13-19

 

“Alvaro and Christina” by Andrew Wyeth, 1968

Sting

Today the weather
is a grumpy neighbor
I’m trying to avoid
so I don’t get the mail
or disturb the wasps
trying to use the mailbox
as a place to make plans.
So far they are only annoyed
by the twice daily disruption—
first the delivery
then the gathering—
and not once have they
attacked or even moved.
They just appear there
each time I open the door—
never more than a handful
and never in the same spot
so I know they’re alive
inside their plump red bodies
that are like drops of blood
with long black wings—
something almost hideous
about the way they look
in the dark shadow of the box
because I know
what they could do
if their peaceful protest
turned into a riot—
and every day I expect them
to grow in numbers
which is why I have ready
a can full of killer
every time I reach in
to extract the stack of bills
that never includes
a handwritten letter
from a lost love
telling me something
that would cause my eyes
to water and sting.

 

 

DeMaris
4-29-19

An Understanding

We rode down together
in the elevator,
the housekeeper and I,
from the 22nd floor.
We are careful
not to catch each others eye
as she pulls her braids into a ponytail
and I pretend to look
for something in my purse,
and I find it as the elevator stops
at the 11th floor
and at the 4th
I almost tell her why I’m here
and why I’m not supposed to be.
I want to tell her I understand
the way she feels about
changing sheets for people
who are on paid vacations
or who are here on company business
that covers room service
and valet parking.
But I don’t tell her how wonderful it was
to sleep on those sheets
with a man
who asked me to come
who asked me to exit
into the hall only after it was clear
no one could see.

DeMaris

4-25-19

“Morning Sun” by Edward Hopper, 1952