This was a hard poem to write, because it’s true. Most of my poems are a mix of truth, fiction and daydreaming, which allows me to enjoy them without taking them too seriously, but this hit home.

In this poem, Richard Cory is referring to the poem “Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson…a poem I read in middle school.  Google it. It still makes me tear up.


The expected gesture

is to console the widow

by whispering sincere apologies

into her ear as you hug inside the funeral parlor

which happens to be the church basement

where a dull urn holds the last of his ashes

that long ago began to scatter like weeds

in what once was a lovely garden.


The polite thing is to mention

what a gentleman he was as he lived among us,

handsome and imperially slim – always with two faces,

like Richard Cory, but without the mess of a bullet.

He chose a cleaner method.


The thing you won’t say

is that you wish he’d had the courtesy to do it outside,

or in the barn, or the garage, sooner,

and that you’re glad he’s gone—

and you’ll never tell her that you know

she feels the same.



DeMaris Gaunt


Happy Birthday Stephen Dunn

Last year, on a whim, after reading on The Writer’s Almanac that Stephen Dunn’s birthday was June 24th, I sent him some of my poems along with a note that gave him credit for igniting my interest in poetry.  The following poem was first on the stack.  He was very gracious and emailed me that he liked my poems…here’s a snippet…

“your work is full of pleasures. It’s limpid and full of achieved honesty, which, despite your first poem and note, I will take no credit for.”

That was pretty thrilling coming from my all-time favorite poet who happens to have won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2001 for Different Hours!



Happy Birthday Stephen Dunn

Here it is,

a book of poems—

the birthday present you didn’t ask for,

didn’t want.


It’s really a thank you gift in disguise,

a sort of offering

to a god who might have ears

who may just listen.


And you, now on the other side of the page,

in this reversal of roles

can choose to light the fire

as I have done so many times

to welcome the evening,

the perfect light to read your words.


Don’t hesitate—

if you find the light too dim,

offer these pages to the flames

so they might be useful,


their only purpose

is to burn.




DeMaris Gaunt


Proper Pairs

Proper Pairs

Most of the time

you see proper pairs

walking near each other on the streets

or at the art museum

or entering the movie theatre hand in hand—

their degree of beauty

in the ballpark of the other—

beauty seeking beauty

and homely seeking a compatible face.


How fascinating it is, on occasion,

to see the balance so tipped—

one so striking and the other striking out

in what must be, you guess,

their only deficiency.


The triumph is beneath the skin—

some transcendent pulse

beating out a code of distraction—

“look here,” it says,

coming from an illuminated place

close to the core

where everything is imagined anyway,

and in this language

it has convinced another heart

to become blind to everything

but love.



DeMaris Gaunt



Email From Writers Digest

Email From Writers Digest

“Could your novel benefit from an additional critique?”

               (This, in the subject line).


Of course it could.

Of course my novel could use another critique

before it gets rejected fourteen more times

by agents and publishers who,

bless their hearts,

regret to use the word “regret”

in yet another outgoing letter that they don’t really sign

or see

or stamp.


But there it is in the last sentence,

that redeeming wish for us:

that we find another “home” for our orphaned words, which,

if we could spare a few dollars and hire someone to clean them up,

polish their shoes,

and parade them once again

before the critical eyes,


will be the answer

we are a few steps

closer to.



DeMaris Gaunt




When You Love Someone, And Also Someone Else

How sad it is that shame
can press the beauty out of love,
and what a pity when we are led away
by the guilt in our hands, as if we held
the tears of a disapproving father.

You mustn’t make that face
or shake your head,
or pretend you’ve no idea how it happens.
How many children can you love?
How many friends or pets or landscapes
fill equally the chambers of your heart?

No one dares to tell you how precious
the emptiness can be— that ache-filled longing
which reaches toward heaven
when something like love takes root in the
desert of years.

And even though our beds are full
of monogamy and babies and even joy,
our large hearts can nourish
with forbidden tenderness
an invented life which sometimes
is the reason for our smile.

DeMaris Gaunt

Your Last Day

Your Last Day

I wasn’t prepared

for that last day

like I should have been—

the new year meant a new job

and more money and no you

to talk to anymore

as we sipped our coffee

from those mugs you made

out of red clay,

and I broke one

a few years ago

and almost cried because

it meant so much and

I knew I only had

three more chances

to keep you forever

in this solid form

with those shallow spirals

made by your fingers

as the clay spun inside your palms—

and even though I knew

I’d never give you these poems

I wasn’t prepared

to hear that this

was your last day

and there won’t be another chance

if I ever change my mind.




DeMaris Gaunt




I remember laughing with you

for the last time

at the art fair,

and when it was time to leave

I walked away

with the reluctance of honey

dripping from the comb.


At least you lived

in the same little house

perfect and white—

hidden from my heart

behind the mesh of trees

where sometimes, driving by,

I could see you drift from car to door

or glimpse the smoke

float upward from your grill

and know you lived happily

up on that ridge without me,

impervious to my daily wish—

which would have altered

so much sweetness

had it come true.


And now that you’re buried

I find I can’t remove

that yellow T-shirt from the hanger

to wear

or offer to the rummage sale

because it represents

the sliver of possibility

that always seemed to contain

and separate us,

especially in that public place

where you hugged me so tightly

within the thick arms of the crowd

where my wish—

so wing-like and fragile—

soared before it fell

and entered earth,

finally broken.




DeMaris Gaunt