Tag Archives: grief


He was just
a little bird
in your love
for 13 years
by accident
he ended up
eating the
prairie dropseed
your window
and you knew
he wouldn’t
last long
some kind of
from which
he must
have escaped
so you
lifted him
into your life
when he died
you felt
your feet
leave the ground
as if Sporobolus
was trying
to take you
with him
but you were
too heavy
for his wings
and you
onto the couch
in tears.






to go
to be alone
and hidden
from the
of loved ones
except the
the bathtub
if you can
get away
with it—
and you have
ten minutes
to get rid
of those tears
that will be
not another
and when you
turn off
the water
there will still
be grief
to push
you under
you consider
for a moment
to be
you should go.







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


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

Otherwise (A 9-11 Poem)

It will never be as clear
as that black smoke
how much relief was born that day,
or in what form—
the beatings finally over,
the incurable sickness inoculated,
the dull shame of loving the wrong gender
forever buried
in the breakable steel.

You must believe that marriages
headed for ruin
were spared the public disgrace
and the private divisions—
the children blessed
to be left with nothing
to stand between them
and the happy lie of ignorance.

In addition to those who meant to kill,
there must have been a few
who survived safely on the other side of town
or in another state or country
who were inwardly pleased
to learn of a certain death—
a debt suddenly erased
or a secret vaporized
in the painless explosion of cells.

I like to think
that one of the named dead survived—
stumbled away—
the fathomable unfathomable event
having just provided an end
needed to begin again—
to step into the bright freedom
of anonymity
where it might be possible to experience
the longed for joy of unabusive love
and maybe bring into the world
at least one child who otherwise,
if the skies of that blue day
had been left undisturbed
would never have been born.


DeMaris Gaunt





Happy Guy

Some mothers keep it all—
Every little thing the lost child
loved or touched or made.
I wasn’t such a mother.
I wanted only a few keepsakes—
made more precious by the value
he had given them.
His favorite thing was my favorite thing—
which was one of his earliest drawings
he called “Happy Guy”—
a big blue head with a tiny blue body
that made us howl every time
he pulled it from the scrapbook.
Some perfect combination
of cartoon eyes and a wild open grin
turned us upside down.
He used to sneak up behind me
when I was at the sink or at my desk
and shove it between me and my task
and we would squeeze each other
while we laughed.
And now I only think about the box
in the closet which contains it.
I know where it is if I need it.
The image hasn’t changed,
but my reaction is somewhat altered.
Everything now is so much altered.


DeMaris Gaunt