Tag Archives: fear

Up in the Air

“I’m too shy” you said,
with a vulnerability
any 10 year old boy
would only show his mother.
And new to the neighborhood,
who could blame you
for imagining the humility of rejection
if the boy down the street
didn’t want to come out and play
and make a new friend,
which is what you hoped for
as you held the rocket launcher in your hand
and took a few steps into the street.
So I continued without you—
and in the minute it took to walk
between our house and the boy’s,
my own imagination
filled in ten thousand blanks
and I saw you two playing in the woods
catching toads
building forts
tracking mud into the house
fighting over a girl
playing baseball in the backyard
shooting arrows
falling out of trees
double dating
best man-ing—
and after I rang the bell
and watched the boy run toward you
his father and I talked about
where you and I lived before—
and he told me he was military, Air Force,
on their way soon,
like one of your rockets,
to they didn’t know where.

 

 

DeMaris
6-4-18

 

Haircut

He tried to pay me
that first time I cut his hair
and I said no—
no way—
said I was happy
to do something for him—
reminded him how much
he’d done for me.
And I found a twenty
in my purse the next day—
but since then
my dad just sits
in the chair on the patio—
closes his eyes
and crosses his arms
when its time for me
to spread the towel
over his shoulders
and cut away
the excess gray—
he knows that love
is the only currency
we’ll exchange—
and today we both know
that between this haircut
and the next
he’s going to have his heart
opened up for repairs
and someone else
will be making the cuts—
and I know both of us
are hoping
the surgeon’s hands
will be steadier than mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
2-21-18

“Samson and Delilah” by Padovanino (1588-1649, Italy)

The Dawn of Man

The stick.

How long did it lie on the ground
before some freshly-human being
picked it up and reached into the tree
with an astonishing new arm—
straight and long with an accurate aim?

The fruit fell down.

How long before it caught on—
until everyone else saw the sense in it?
The way it made life a little easier
and a little more fun.

Was it unintentional,
that first violent contact?
The stick coming down accidentally
on the head of a brother—
the fruit rolling away
from the splatter of blood.

Such an event
must have ignited some pre-fire temper
that swelled into an agonizing grunt—
and though there were no words yet for apologies,
it was clear what kind of pain was possible
with this new tool.

Imagine, now, the others—
open mouthed, slowly backing away
from the one who made the accidental blow.
And when his reason told him to show them the culprit,
the perpetrator raised his stick above his head.

When they shrank to the ground
and covered their heads,
he felt a rush of control
and was the first to realize,
before language could explain it,
that fear was a kind of power
which would never be improved.

 

 

 

DeMaris
7-24-11

 

 

 

 

Certainty 

I don’t know
what love is—
if, when it’s new
it isn’t a perfectly
irrational urgency
to end the day
exhausted
after digging into
and exploring
a capacious mind
and perfectly
imperfect body
that contains
a beating heart
that shares
this mania and
this wish to be
consumed by
what could only
be known as a
complete
and total absence
of uncertainty
and fear.

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
2-9-17

Independence Day

Independence Day, 2015 

Even though the lawn needs mowed
I’ll stay in the house until evening
because there are things to celebrate indoors,
like air conditioning and running water
and the kind of freedom
that allows me to choose what book to read
and what kind of flag to criticize
on social media if I want to—

but today, my flag is the one that represents
the sacrifice made by Jack,
my neighbor down the street,
whose time in a distant battlefield
has preserved our enthusiasm
for tonight’s display of fireworks,
while they remind him of similar explosions
he’ll do his best not to think about after dark.

 

DeMaris Gaunt
7-4-15

Glitch

“My god”
was never something I said
when something shocked
or amazed or angered me—
back when I believed
in that thing which was once
at the center of my imagination—
that thing I thought
had the power to crush me
with an intelligence
I was too stupid to understand.

“My god.”
Still, it’s something I’ll never say—
for different reasons now.
The fear of punishment
for taking the lord’s name in vain
is as potent as the fires of hell—
which means there’s no power
in that phrase and no power
in that awful place
that exists only in the imaginary
glitches of our intelligent minds.

 

DeMaris Gaunt
5-17-16