Faithful Airplanes

is unnecessary
if no harm’s been done,
but still, I think I’ll never tell anyone
how beautiful it was
to spend those hours
so fully enraptured by his company
in that small bar off the lobby
where we never touched
or discussed
what we’d have for dinner the next day
because there wouldn’t be one for us—
no next day, since airplanes
are mostly faithful to their schedule—
in sync with the plans we made
before we met.
And because we talked
so deeply about morality
we shook hands
as we exited the hotel,
both of us certain an embrace
would unravel us, turn us inside out
in one of those rooms upstairs
where anything could happen
and nothing
none of it
would ever be forgiven.





Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-Winged Blackbird

From a distance

I thought it was a toy—

a glossy black

hard plastic

action figure

still holding tight to its bright red

secret weapon.


I could imagine the

crestfallen child

in the backseat of a minivan

having accidentally misjudged his grip

or the invisible strength of air—

the caped good guy down,

the villain still clutched in his hand.


To my surprise

it was a red-winged blackbird—

unarmed and fragile,

who may have been driven into traffic

as it fled a red-tailed hawk

or maybe it saw something

strange, similar to itself

dangling from tiny fingers—

and in a moment of brave curiosity

dove, and was lost

and would not be mourned

or missed

by anyone.




DeMaris Gaunt




Bread Alone

Bread Alone

Peanut butter is what you craved first

after surviving so long on bread alone.


You wanted to find out if His words were true—

if man (or kid, for that matter)

couldn’t live on bread alone—

or maybe you just wanted to prove Him wrong.


But on day two, your mother,

who you feared more than God Himself

said she was getting tired of this silly experiment

and insisted you eat some peanut butter

on the next slice.


At eight years old your reason told you

that to cheat just this once

would throw off the whole enterprise,

so you declined,

and took a few plain slices from the bag

before retreating to your room, alone.


You ate the bread alone, and dreamed all night

of the creamy taste of peanut butter

absent in your mouth

and by morning on the third day, you rose

to the tempting smell of bacon and eggs

which made you grin as you imagined Jesus –

silly Jesus, locked into an eternity

of believing some people might actually want

to live on bread alone.



DeMaris Gaunt




The Euphemistic Guide to Sexual Encounters

The Euphemistic Guide to Sexual Encounters


I’d love to come up

and see your etchings

if they are the skin deep scars

on your body.



It’s only fair

that I’ll polish your rocket

after you grease my wheel

that’s been spinning since we met.



We can explore my cave

before we play with your magic wand

and watch the rabbit

jump out of the hat.



I’ll blow the whistle

when it’s time to pull a train

into the station

after we’ve been travelling

all night long.



I want to sleep with you

as long as it means staying awake,

wide as the yawning moon.



I’ll walk through

the gates of heaven with you

if we don’t have to thank god

for what we find.





DeMaris Gaunt


At the Airport

At the Airport

The eastern sky

is clearly on its best behavior,

but like a smiling child

holding some precious breakable thing

behind his back,

the western horizon

has conjured a few white clouds

to conceal the single dark one

floating solo,

taking its time

deciding what it wants to become.

Like a large black period

it punctuates the calm indifferent ocean of air,

making a statement

that doesn’t require my approval.


I’ve never worried about the sky

or second guessed its ability

to hold up its sun,

enormous, floating,

destine to shine—

billions of years of practice

making perfect

the grand choreography of stars and moons,

the effortless way they avoid collision

with an audacity so large

I would send my own young son

into that sky,

smiling, breakable,

destine to shine.



DeMaris Gaunt



On the Playground

On the Playground

I saw it first

from a distance.

It was bright red


and looked as if

strawberry jam

had landed on the boy’s cheek

instead of his mouth

in an attempt to lick the spoon.


As he played

with the children

just like him

but without a mark

of such misfortune

I watched

and hoped my young son

would not point to it

or make fun of the boy

who wore it so bravely

as if he were

just like the other boys

with soft and tender cheeks

who would go home

to their mirrors

and scrub their faces clean

without the shock

of what couldn’t be

washed away.


My heart fell

like a fumbled spoon

of strawberry jam

when my son came toward me

tethered to this boy

with one hand

pointing to his cheek

with the other.


All of a sudden

anxiety dissolved

like the large

temporary tattoo

of an apple

half washed away.



DeMaris Gaunt


For My Daughter: A Short History of Your Existence

For My Daughter: A Short History of Your Existence 

There she is:

that pretty girl

standing with my boyfriend

at the Cincinnati Zoo,

his arm around her

like no one is watching.


A friend showed me

the photograph as proof

that she was beautiful.

I nodded slowly to agree

and noted that she must be

twenty years younger than me,

sun bleached blond

and apple cheeked

in front of the purple tongued



She looks like me

but doesn’t know half

of what I know.

She doesn’t have a clue

that I exist

or that he is lying

to her about everything.


I’m not jealous

of her youth or her beauty

but of her long list of choices

still to be made.

And if I could spare her the

betrayal that would separate them

before the child

could be conceived

I wouldn’t.




DeMaris Gaunt