Tag Archives: dying


We carved our pumpkins
that dreadful night
we learned how long
we could expect you to exist
in your current and only form.
Inoperable was the word
we didn’t want to hear
and as we scooped out handfuls
of that stringy pulp,
we tried to focus on your joy
instead of that small round patch of hair
starting to grow back
above your ear.
You were looking forward
to Halloween,
which would be your last,
and the costume you chose a month ago
before we were sure
the countdown was on
happened to be a skeleton
with glowing bones
and a plastic skull mask
with blinking red eyes.
Only now does it seem
a sobering choice.
We lit the Jack-O-Lanterns
and roasted the seeds
and tried to carve happy smiles
into our own faces
because we weren’t sure yet
how to tell you
or if we should,
and I hated those pumpkins
for their bright grins
and removable lids
that could so easily be replaced
after we lifted out what
wasn’t needed,
and because I knew your light
wouldn’t fade so gracefully
when it was your turn to enter
that eternal night.


DeMaris Gaunt

Another Day

You are alive
next to me
without difficulty
and I smile at you
all those times
I’ve pondered
your death
and how I’d live
without you
if I forgot your
Epipen or your
inhaler if we
went for a walk
or visited the zoo
or were stuck
in traffic twenty
minutes away
from home
or the nearest
and you ate
the wrong
granola bar
or got stung
by a honey bee
or a wasp or
mauled by lions
who escaped
their cages
or hit by a bullet
meant for a beast
or fell into the
sinkhole I am
always imagining
will open its mouth
to swallow you

DeMaris Gaunt


This is it.
It’s enough.
This bathtub
this music
this time I have left
to feel something warm
and pleasant
surrounding me
before I become lost
in the watery ambiguity
of what is dry and cold
and eternal.

Water is the bridge
between life and death—
it’s in the womb
before the light appears
and it’s the sloshing
after it fades.

Faced with death,
it isn’t the end
that makes me sad
as much as the desperate way
believers beg for an extension
and pray in earnest
to gods who know nothing
of warmth or music
or mercy
or what it’s like
to have laughed and loved
or existed at all.


DeMaris Gaunt

O Negative

The email says
“Urgent: Your Negative is a Positive!”

and has been sent out en masse
with the impersonal
“Dear Donor”
at the top of the page.

I’m reminded that my blood
is in great need today,
and 30 is the number of orders
that couldn’t be filled
over the weekend.

is the gift of my blood
because it can go to almost anyone
safely and without rejection
if there’s no time, say,
in the case of trauma,
to test for a patient’s type.

At my earliest convenience
it’s requested that I be heroic
and raise my sleeve
and offer my rare juice
to the injured and the dying—
and I will.

But as with all proper superhero’s,
there’s a kryptonite story.
An ironic Achilles heel.

When this rich red liquid
pumps through the hearts of women
who carry a baby in their womb,
there is trouble.

If the blood of baby and mother
mix together, there will be a war
and the child will suffer
and lose.

When my three children
were waiting to be born
the doctors had to save them
from my blood—

which is fiercely territorial
yet willing to explore.


DeMaris Gaunt

Life Support

Tempting to ask
what were you thinking
out there on the open road
without a helmet

but everyone already knows
the answer to questions like that

and if we who ask
want the correct answer
instead of the right answer
it might be a good idea

to rewind the tape
and watch your life in reverse

and it does no good now
for your family to tell you how sorry they are
that they didn’t let you live in peace
with the one you loved

because they didn’t understand
that love could transcend gender

or that love could stretch and bend
only so far before it turned into
something reckless
and worth dying for.


DeMaris Gaunt


When I think
that you may die
before me,
the source of the sting
is not the absence
of a smooth
and polished future
that mothers wish
for their beloved children,
but the shortage
of the many terrible breaks
and losses and dents
which would have
carved into you
those pockets of emptiness,
without which,
no joy
could ever find purchase
and no pleasure
could ever cling.


DeMaris Gaunt