Tag Archives: restraint


The filter is on
and love is squirming
trying to say
what it feels
like it needs to say
but I am the gatekeeper
who decides
how much
should be revealed
and I have one finger
on the trigger
one foot on the gas
another finger
over the barrel
and one heel
about to catch fire
from all this friction
all this dragging
all this restraint
that is supposed
to save me
from embarrassment
and the sudden
doe-eyed expression
on my face
that contains
every truth I can
never say.





Painting by Vilhelm Hammershoi, public domain


Our lives expand
like the controlled
stretching of a rubber band
that snaps at the end—
and in between
our beginning and our end
when breath
is taken for granted
there is time
for music and art
and walks in the woods
with pleasant company—
and there are
the regular joys
like sweets and babies
and holiday parties—
even indulgences
that become secrets
to tell your best friend
after you’ve had
a glass or two of wine—
and who doesn’t have
a file of regrets
that have scratched
the shiny surface
of those accomplishments
we made?
Our measured risks
add up to the reputation
we have in our own little circles—
and I’m sure that mine
is sanguine in nature,
and that my vibe
belies my truth—
that I exist on a knife edge
between bravery and cowardice—
and I favor one over the other—
and no one really knows
how often I hold back
or how much—
and restraint is not
what I’ll be
remembered for—
though it should be.






you want the mountains
so badly
you have to throw
your car keys across the room
and cover your face
with both of your hands
for an entire minute
and hope you have the will
to walk over to the mantel 
and look at the photo
of your third-grade son
who would become
as unstable as ash
if you decided
you couldn’t wait
another ten years
before you walked out
on every promise
you ever made—
so you stumble through
another day
that isn’t heaven
but is nowhere close to hell—
and you commit
to another decade,
day by day –
knowing your beloved child will,
by then,
have accumulated
his own set of hearts
to start breaking—
and his own gray mountain
looking glorious
in the dark blue distance.




Revised 1-10-17

Photograph, Ansel Adams, the Tetons and Snake River, 1942

In the Dark

Oh, you.
You who exist
so flawlessly
in my imagination—
I want to ask you
I want to walk
into the woods
with you in silence
and return days later
with an understanding
of what it means
to live a holy life
without guilt or gods
or fear of the dark—
which is where
you’d teach me
the correlation
between ecstasy
and restraint—
the way restraint
is the home
of eternal ecstasy—
and the imagined touch
is the only one
we’ll never tire of—
the only one
we’ll never need
to plant or water
or make a place for
in the sun.



Where you are it’s 2 a.m.
and you exist in sleep
six hours apart from me—
on a future date, in fact.
For you, it’s already tomorrow
but I’m stuck here in the past
at 8 p.m. writing a night poem
about your yesterday—
about the way we almost
told the truth
with a code of black letters
on a white screen and through
a thoughtful exchange of music
which is always dangerous
because lyrics can mean
almost anything you want them to
if you want them to—
and I wanted that song
you shared with me to mean
you wouldn’t be the man
to ruin my life—
even though you wanted to.


DeMaris Gaunt