Tag Archives: Secular Poetry

The Right Word

What is the right word
if the right word isn’t fair
when a man prepares to leave his wife
after thirty years together,
believing he has found himself
right at home
in the arms of a younger woman
who is about to leave her older husband
because of the way it feels
when she is standing three feet away
from this new man,
knowing that one day
they will close the distance
until there is nothing between them
but a kind of crime
committed in the name of love—
Somehow, fair
is never the word for what it means
when two people
have found happiness in each other
out of order, in the wrong sequence,
even if they move slowly and cautiously
toward the future they’d like to share.
And even if the children are old enough
to survive such an earthquake,
it still isn’t fair
that these two leavers should have
a second life to look forward to
when the ones they leave
will be left baffled and alone.
And who could blame the abandoned
for feeling bitter
as they witness someone else
revive in their loved one an exuberance
that’d been replaced long ago
with boredom?
Only a monster—
or someone who has experienced
the thrilling unexpected shift of love
from one body to another
would dare to call it right.





“An Out-of-Doors Study” by John Singer Sargent, 1856

No One Is Going To Die

You are friendless
on a night
it would be helpful
to have someone intervene
and interrupt your sorrow
and take away the bottle
that is almost as empty
as your heart—
so all you can do
is pretend you see a light
at the end of this dark tunnel
where he waits for you
the man who could erase
your tears just by existing
a little closer
to where you are








I want too much
after I thought
I’d convinced myself
to enjoy
he gives me
which is all he can give
because he’s giving
to her too
and why should I
want more
than his love
which he promised
is mine
even though
she gets his bed
and his time
and his considerate lies
to keep her heart
from breaking
the way mine
is breaking
I know
what she doesn’t know—
that neither of us
will ever have him






What You Will Pay For

Months in advance you put in for the time off.
You book the flight, hotel – the rental car.
It doesn’t have to be Europe or exotic.
It can be Vegas or that Grand Canyon
that many have fallen into by accident or on purpose.
All you want is to stand on that edge of anticipation
for as long as you can.
It doesn’t matter that the beach
won’t look like the pictures
or that the accommodations you can afford
will fail to overwhelm.
You already know that absolute happiness
is impossible wherever you stand—
that you are the wrong end of a magnet
unable to make a connection.
Joy is an achievement of your mind as it hovers
above the pillow before you go to sleep.
It isn’t the view from the mountaintop
or the taste of fresh lobster
that will make your trip worth the exchange
of a paycheck or two.
The sweet pleasure of longing is the prize.
The delicious expectation, prolonged and satisfying—
this is what you wanted.
For this, you would pay almost anything.


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.



There seems to be
something missing most days—
and I know
it isn’t Steven Pinker
who I’ve loved so completely
unrealistically these past few years—
but it feels like a similar void.
Like something could actually fill me
or complete me
if I could locate the vacancy—
but it won’t hold still long enough
for me to identify the need
or the solution.
So I return to my reliable
if not enthusiastic lover
for what amounts to necessity
if not love—
and we become to each other
the stepping stone – the wish
the body of someone else
we know will never
touch the vacancy we keep
for them—
and only for them.




DeMaris Gaunt



My Nature Poem


I am ready to confess
that no one
has held me captive
inside their flesh—
in between the heat of arms
and chest and chin
in such a way
that I wanted never to escape.
And I will also confess
that to find myself
in such a place
is a desire so constant
it seems it’s all
I’ve ever wanted.


DeMaris Gaunt