Category Archives: Writing

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?

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

 

Flight

After we met
there was so little time
we couldn’t help but give in
to the eloquence of language
and follow it
to the natural conclusion
of a hotel bedroom
where we gave each other
nothing we wished to take back.
And when we parted
there was a conspicuous
absence of sorrow—
a painless
almost joyful goodbye
without complication or tears.
No silly declaration of love
to muddy the future.
No trouble understanding
distance, borders, boundaries.
No confusion about silence
and how it would live between us
now that the sky has taken him—
along with the answers
to all the questions
I will never get to ask.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
1-5-19

 

 

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

 

Constellations

When I was in love,
when I was madly in love
I knew it wouldn’t last—
that there would be
an explosion,
an after—
I knew what I felt
was temporary
temporal
but it felt like something
beautiful
and significant
even if it only meant
that I was human—
that I could feel everything
I was supposed to feel
even at this age
even in the middle of my life
even halfway to death
or maybe only a day
away from it—
when I was in love
there was no limit
to what I’d do to please
to satisfy, to elevate, indulge—
there was no fear that I could
give it all away—
but love began to
take take take
as I gave gave gave
and what love left
is a permanent pattern of holes
that collect and store
the constellations of joy
that now
feel light years away.

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
11-2-18

Robbed

Tell me
why
when
where
tell me how
you can love me
without knowing
what
when
where I am
right now
tell me how
you spend the days
knowing
I love you
knowing
you love me
tell me
where
when
why
you robbed me
of yourself
tell me how
tell me when
tell me why
your love
allows this distance
this absence
tell me how
to be patient
tell me
how to stand
how to lay down
without you.

Reductionism

You watch him
walk into the kitchen
for a drink of water
watch him turn
to open the cabinet
for a glass,
his profile sharp
against the soft pine,
and by now you know
he isn’t going
to offer to bring you
anything
while he’s up,
and he helps himself
to a bowl of berries
before returning
to your side,
and you will say
something about the
beauty that still exists
in the world
because you are trying
to stay positive
in spite of being
invisible,
but he won’t respond
because
he didn’t hear you
or he wasn’t listening…
either way
you are unheard again
as he focuses
his attention on the TV
which is advertising
male enhancement
between news stories
and you wish
there was some magic
potion to enlarge
his heart
which you are
beginning to realize
has always been
a few sizes too small.