Tag Archives: tenderness


“You own everything that happened to you.  Tell your stories.  If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”  ~Anne Lamott


You’ve been told
warned is more like it
that you really shouldn’t
write this down
and add it to the internet
or to the sum of your woes
but you know what it’s like
how it feels to be silent
wide eyed as you hear
the sharp words enter you
destroy your self-esteem
those letters arranged
in sentences that suggest
you control your appetite
do something about the size
of your ass your thighs
are thicker than your skin
so you obey and swell up
on the inside as your body
shrinks into invisibility
hoping someday someone
will notice that your voice
is just a mirror reflecting
everything your heart absorbs
and maybe someone would even
try to test it with something
tender like love to see
how sweetly you can sing.






*As I explain in my bio, my poems are sometimes true, sometimes fiction, sometimes a mix. This poem came to me last night after I ate not one, but two brownies (gasp!) and was reminded of past relationships (yes, plural) with individuals who were more concerned with my appearance than my happiness.


I float into the night
how you will feel
when there is nothing
between us
but warm water
and skin so lonely
we will need
to cover each other
with tenderness
to help ease
the exit wound
that will follow us home
after we pick up
our blankets
from the forest floor
and kiss goodbye.







“Sun Shield” Andrew Wyeth, Watercolor 1982


When the mountains
have had enough of you
and send you home sore
and craving sleep
I want to be the balm
that covers you in the dark—
I want you supine beneath me
between my legs and inside
my soft wet warmth—
I want your eyes closed
and your only sensation
to be the slow and prolonged
ecstasy that I will draw out
of your body and into mine.





The Botanist

I don’t think he knows
he’s beautiful—
which is lovely and strange
and maybe even telling
of a kind of innocence
that comes from loving
wild things better than
human things, who sting
and wither and grow thorns
that can be hard to pull out
if his center is as soft and fragile
as his Bleeding Hearts—
those plump and tender blossoms
who return to him every year—
and will never break his heart.



Crisp and tart like a September apple
is how it tastes to remember you calling out to me to stop—
to wait for you to catch up so you could take my cold hand
into your warm one and tell me you’d give anything
if I’d turn around and change course—
and I was tempted to follow you back into the library
and miss my train to Boston all because
we reached for the same book at the same time—
and it really did seem surreal that you were so beautiful and bright—
and a dozen years later I can’t remember your last name
which would make it so easy to find you in this new world
of Google and Facebook and Linkedin.
But I admit that I am happy you’ve been with me ever since
without flaws, or age, or disagreement, or pain.
You have been more perfect than is possible if I had turned around
and given us a chance to begin, and a chance to end.

DeMaris Gaunt

An Authentic Spiritual Experience

We know morning will come
and deliver our end
but still, we enter the room
with a key that resembles a credit card
and there, in the middle
is a single bed
like the nucleus of an atom
where we will make a payment
to each other’s body
in exchange for a memory of sensation
which will last longer
than the way you smell tonight of cinnamon
or the way I taste after the few sips of wine
which can’t be blamed
for bringing us here after we won the debate
on stage in that auditorium
split wide open between followers
of a certain book
and believers in a kind of science
that rejects absolute claims
that the tenderness we are about to share
is somehow immoral or irresponsible
instead of natural, necessary
and profoundly beautiful.


DeMaris Gaunt

Exactly What Happened

Lighting is everything

and the time of day too


is important

and always partly to blame.


And the large room

full of people with drinks


in their nervous hands

must also be considered


as much as the reason

we were there,


which was art – bad

and under the scrutiny


of bright white light

and we knew each other


from the books we wrote

and we were there because


it was part of the event

which featured both our names


in the program.

And before the crowd thinned out


we found a balcony that hovered

effortlessly in the dark air


and felt the north exhaling

it’s cold breath


which prompted you

to step closer and inhale


my perfume

as you looked into me


for a moment without a word

and you didn’t even take my hand


which might have seemed strange

if we were both still young,


and instead, you swallowed hard

and silently lowered your chin


over my spinning head

and both of your arms were


tight and tender around me

as if you were apologizing


for something we both knew

couldn’t exist in this beautiful


and whispering dark.



DeMaris Gaunt