Tag Archives: Secular Poetry


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


After Party

We were all there
gathered in the bar
some of us dancing
all of us drinking it in—
the high of the past two days—
that Festival of Dangerous Ideas
making it possible
for us to meet in public
for the first time
even though you seemed familiar
as my favorite pair of jeans
and when it was time to part
you insisted on walking me
to my hotel which was not far
and not far enough
because somehow our arms
became linked as we walked
and I didn’t want to disconnect
from your warmth
and your smell—
and when you pulled me into you
under the neon NO VACANCY sign
I heard you whisper
What do we do now?
and I reminded you
that you were married—
and you reminded me
that I was too,
and by that time
it started to rain with a kind of
fervor that felt like a blessing
from one of those forgotten gods
who still had something to prove.

DeMaris Gaunt

Three Avocados

The new neighbors
who we didn’t know well, but didn’t like,
were going on a mission trip
so they knocked on our red door
and offered us three black avocados
and two ripe tomatoes
because, God bless us,
they didn’t want them to go to waste.

We were newly married then
and I had never tasted an avocado
or been in the same room with one.
My Indiana upbringing was void
of anything exotic or unknown—
and because my father had no appetite
for exploration, my mother,
(whose appetite for adventure was never satisfied)
filled our dinner table
with banal predictable flavors.

Those avocados did not enjoy salvation,
as our neighbors prayed they would.
It would be another ten years
before I’d have my first taste.
Dinner at a friend’s house—
burritos and sliced avocado.
I think about them sometimes—
those three wasted avocados—
how a sprinkling of salt and a spoon
would have changes our lives sooner
and for the better.

Eventually they moved away, our neighbors,
to start a new church up north.
We never liked them,
but had we known they’d given us
a fruit from heaven
we might have forgiven them
for the way everything they did
was in god’s name.


DeMaris Gaunt