Because you can see
it is clear to you
how important it is
to watch where you’re going—

the curb, the sudden street
six inches below your next step.

And you wouldn’t have heard it
in time to duck—

that Frisbee whizzing toward your ear—

but your eyes, like magic,

absorb the necessary light and shadows,

the motion instructing you to step aside.
As you look ahead,
focused on the colorful horizon,
an image of your friend appears in your mind.
Yesterday, she just got the news.  Bad.

Not a hope in sight.

They’ll have to go, the doctor said.

both of them—

the two bright planets
dying like stars,
an explosion of cancer
before the permanence of dark.

Blind.  A life sentence.
Once, when your vocabulary was incomplete
it was only a word that followed love is….



DeMaris Gaunt




The tight fisted sun
pounds the party
on the beach
this fourth of July.

brown bodied
and glowing with laughter
throw Frisbees
and bodysurf
along the shore.

Colorful umbrellas
dissolve the heat
with their small round
while bellies fill
with the offerings
taken from the fire:
roasted corn
hot dogs,

Slowly, the ocean
drinks from the sky its light
and the smaller fire
ignites a fuse
held by careless hands
a little drunk with
and all of a sudden
all the water in the world
is twenty feet
too far away.

DeMaris Gaunt

Driving Too Fast

Driving Too Fast

I like driving

ninety miles an hour

as if there was a need

to travel at the speed of risk.


I love when the car

in front of me

gets out of my way,

merges right

because they’re paying attention

and they know how to play this game.


But what I really love

Is being the driver

who spots you

coming into focus

like an animated short

inside the TV

of my rear-view.


I like to imagine the moment

when you realize

you are at my mercy—

that I am the boundary

of your urgency

and all you need

is for me to recognize your greater purpose

and move over,

which I do.




DeMaris Gaunt

July, 2010




It was a Buick.  Red.

On fire with a kiss.

The stoplight gave them

just enough time

to carry on

with the passion of youth

while it gave me

just enough time

to write the first three lines

of this poem.


Startled by the honk,

I looked up to see

the Buick already

pulling ahead

disappearing into the future

when out of the window

a cigarette appeared

on the end of his arm;

a small glow


in the sudden rush of air.



DeMaris Gaunt


Hard to Say

Hard to Say 

Who knows if it will live

or not—

the small baby robin

whose black speckled body

I lifted out of the hole

between the garden

and the basement window.


He heard the struggle,

my son—

whose thirteen years

of life experience

have accumulated into

a sad indifference

to its cries for help.


Instead of rushing

out the front door to investigate

the source of such commotion

he called to me

from the comfortable nest of his chair

in front of the computer screen.


“Something is dying

outside the window,” he said

with an unfamiliar voice

beginning to hatch and deepen.


When the tiny wings

fluttered out of my hands

into the motherless afternoon,

I felt its chances were as good

as the kid downstairs

who had made no effort yet

to fly.


DeMaris Gaunt





It began as work, as words,
an exchange of ideas
made possible by the blind eye
of technology.

His intelligence conjured an image
that did not correspond
to the one I searched for
and found on the faculty page,
the dark eyes, the long hair,
both so easy to imagine myself lost in—

a beauty so completely his,
he chose to hold his kitten for the photo.

When it was time to meet

months later,
loose ends needing to be tied,
I traveled across the country
with a gut full of butterflies
to share a conference room
on the twenty second floor
with those who would approve
of our creation, and agree
that our minds had coalesced
into something just right.

Afterward, we filed into the large elevator
and as we waited for it to fill, descend,
he silently took my hand
and stepped back into the corner,
making room, making it clear

with such a pained expression

that he felt what I felt
as he pulled me gently
against his height,
a private confession in such a public place—

that first and last time
we would ever meet or touch
before returning to our changed
unchangeable lives.

There isn’t a word in the universe
that could name what we created.
Not a single word that could carry the weight
of that goodbye.

DeMaris Gaunt