Tag Archives: fear

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

 

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
12-24-13

Thunderstorm, 2 a.m.

It hasn’t happened yet—
that thing you dread.
But you’re sure it’s coming
toward you like the
red splotches on the radar
making their way
to your front door.
You can almost hear
the tap tap tap on your
stained glass windows
and you brace yourself
for the kind of wind
that can rip up trees
and snap the roots right off
and leave the branches
reaching up for help
that will never come.

 

DeMaris Gaunt
9-29-15