Tag Archives: drinking


You wonder sometimes
how you make it this far
into the day
after the rejection letters
arrive in your mailbox
because the New Yorker
didn’t want your poetry,
and neither did the
American Poetry Review—
and it feels as if rejection
is your life sentence
because you could paper
a cell with these envelopes—
heck, you could paper it
with the stamps you buy
instead of that whiskey,
which you decide will
be your next purchase—
and the perfect consolation


DeMaris Gaunt



Later in your life
after you’ve become
a closeted
functioning alcoholic
you realize
you’d been too hard
on all those folks
you knew to be dependent
on their loved ones
to make sense
of their happiness
and worth.
You’d been too hard
on everyone.
Even the dishes
waiting in the sink
tell you how much
trouble it is
to be so necessary
and so abused—
and you couldn’t agree
more unless
the comment came
from someone you loved
who was real
and sober—
and recovering from
the daunting chore
of giving up
the delusion
that they had it all
under some kind
of complete control.


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

Night Walk

No whiskey in the house tonight,
so I step outside into October.
And down the street, on foot,
I am snared by the scents of curry
and Mountain Fresh dryer sheets
and the lingering mesquite
still warm on a charcoal grill.
It used to be difficult to put on
lace-up shoes and call it exercise,
but it’s become an alternative
to all those things that need doing,
and has become as compulsory
as the evening prayers of popes.
Nights like this I think of Hemingway
and his denial that he drank
when he wrote, which seems
almost unfortunate when you consider
his bone dry Old Man and the Sea.
How did it happen that his name
is the one we remember—
when thirteen years earlier,
Richard Llewellyn penned a novel
so intoxicating, each page was a libation
to the god of poetry and prose!
How Green Was My Valley
is a book worth staying sober for.
It made beautiful the mundane life—
like the one I walk out on sometimes
when I leave the house in spirit or on foot.
But I am always home and fully present
by the time the a.m. alarm sounds off,
and I wake to the gift of another round.

DeMaris Gaunt

“Nellie Lake,” 1933
by A.Y. Jackson

A Little Darkness

Some say
it’s a darkness—
but I say the light
is a little better
and little softer
as it comes in filtered
through the gauzy pinprick
of an alcoholic beverage—
when your focus is a red laser
that keeps skipping around—
which is the reason
you can’t drive – because
there’s only the steering wheel,
or only the gas,
or only the touchy brakes—
and you can’t possibly
work them all at the same time
when your eyes
just want to close
and feel the fluffy air
spinning around you
like pink cotton candy
at the state fair – so soft
that all you want to do
is write another poem
about love –
which is so often
just another word
for darkness.


DeMaris Gaunt


Red or brown

it doesn’t matter

what color they are.

They hold the cup

which we fill constantly

to come here—

they take the tokens

and deliver us

to this place

where we float

a little higher

than would be allowed

at breakfast, say,

or lunch—

those milestones

of the day we reach

and jump across

to land in this gauzy room

where our thoughts

can blend with the music

as well as everything outside

these windows—

which look to us

like stained glass—

colorful and distorted,

yet perfectly clear.



DeMaris Gaunt


Night Poem

Night Poem

Stop reading if it isn’t late at night.


And if there is any light,

let it be the glow of a half burned candle.


You must be alone to understand

this tale of disappointment:

that the number of people in a room

can be too large and too quiet

and too drunk to understand your poetry,

even if it’s the only thing you’ve ever said

worth saying out loud

or remembering.


Morning will burst in other houses

and like the wine and the weed,

your words have gone up in smoke—

for a moment filled a hollow space,

stirred the air with transparent wings

then disappeared.




DeMaris Gaunt