Tag Archives: Children


My days are spent
with a dozen children
who do not know
their mothers.
Mothers I pretend
are dead
were stricken with grief
the day they exchanged
their baby
for their freedom
from the life sentence
of a disabled child.
And though
my own children
were born
into perfection
I remember the way it felt
to see them struggle
with what would one day
become easy.
will not be
a part of these lives
but there are moments
with each of them
that inspire praise
and adoration—
a crude drawing
of a school bus,
a new word correctly used,
hard-won comprehension.
I like to kiss the tops
of their heads
and pull them into me—
and for a moment
I am their mother
in love
with my creation.







“A Dame’s School” by Thomas Webster, 1845

Tug of War

you will be expected
to demonstrate
your genetic fortitude
while you get the work done
efficiently and well
and you will be expected
to laugh at the jokes
made by your father
at the expense
of your mother
when she’s not around
and you will do this
with an effort so great
it will appear effortless
and later on
you will be expected
to use the manners
you learned as a child
while you listen
to your mother rehash
the past forty years
of emotional neglect
which was worth it
she swears
because she got you
so you listen
with a detached disgust
that’s replaced your empathy
making sure the lines
in your furrowed brow
appear authentic
because you
are on the payroll
and your job
isn’t damage control
your job is
favorite child
and you’re going for golden
on two accounts.






you want the mountains
so badly
you have to throw
your car keys across the room
and cover your face
with both of your hands
for an entire minute
and hope you have the will
to walk over to the mantel 
and look at the photo
of your third-grade son
who would become
as unstable as ash
if you decided
you couldn’t wait
another ten years
before you walked out
on every promise
you ever made—
so you stumble through
another day
that isn’t heaven
but is nowhere close to hell—
and you commit
to another decade,
day by day –
knowing your beloved child will,
by then,
have accumulated
his own set of hearts
to start breaking—
and his own gray mountain
looking glorious
in the dark blue distance.




Revised 1-10-17

Photograph, Ansel Adams, the Tetons and Snake River, 1942


Of all the poems I’ve written, this one is probably my favorite. It reflects the many times I’ve contemplated the death of my youngest, who has various health problems. I often wonder if it might be offensive. No doubt some mothers won’t agree with the sentiment here. But I see life as beautiful not because it’s smooth and easy (it’s mostly that), but because it can be so damn hard. And how happy would you be if your heart had never been broken, scattered and rearranged?  Have a listen.



The childless mother
wants to be alone on Mother’s Day
to stare out the window
into the world she no longer shares
with the little boy, who long ago,
brought her glistening dandelions
bursting from his little brown hand
and decorated her hair
with the yellow joy of life—
treasures collected after a storm
turned the earth to mud.
That day wasn’t Mother’s Day—
but it’s the one she remembers
on the second Sunday each May
when she’d give anything to go back
and withdraw the reprimand
for the traces of mud he left
on his way to make her smile.


DeMaris Gaunt

Candy Bar

There’s nothing wrong today
so I drove to the dollar store
for a king size candy bar
which I ate entirely by myself
in five minutes or less—
and even though I’d never do
such a thing if I were sober,
I felt like I deserved some sort
of reward for living through
a perfectly mundane afternoon
which could only be improved
by risking the life of everyone
on the road for a chocolate bar
filled with caramel, and make it
back home in time to read
a bedtime story to a kid whose
existence is the sole reason
I haven’t yet found myself
trading in my boredom for
the west coast roads that drip
into the ocean like they can’t
make up their mind if they want
to offer you a view of the edge
or tempt you to drive off of it.


DeMaris Gaunt

Speed Limit

Going the speed limit
it takes ten minutes
to get to the hospital
and in the car
with you on my lap
it felt like twenty
and the simple directions
on the side of the Epi-Pen
were written in English
which might as well
have been another language
as foreign as the doctor
who saw in my eyes
the universal fear
that transcends words
when a child is in peril
this time
after eating a peanut butter cookie
camouflaged in white chocolate
as thick as the conversation
at the Christmas party
where your father and I
were the only ones
who didn’t believe in god
and when we took you home
hours later
we put you to bed
and lay awake taking
about how grateful we were
to all those people who worked
to save your life
with all that
accumulated information
in their brains
and those inventions and machines
that took years to develop
and test
and then your father sighed deeply
before turning out the light
and said into the darkness
how amazed he was
that we got to the hospital
in under five minutes.
“Miracle,” I said
and he agreed.


DeMaris Gaunt