Careful now—
don’t deny yourself
the gratification of self pity
just because the son
of your high school friend
will by dying soon of cancer
or because reputation value
goes up as your vulnerabilities go down.
And I recommend crying.  Alone.
Because no one wants
to see it or hear it or carry it around
for the rest of the afternoon
no matter how much
they say they love you.
It’s best to take a little drive
out to the country
where you can contain the sound
of your indulgent weeping
inside a space designed
for getting from one place to another.
Drive slowly on the bumpy gray road
between the empty fields
painted with snow
and try to quit worrying
about the kid with cancer.
He has his own entourage,
but you’re the only one
who can coach yourself out
of your tiny despairs.
And you should try
to quit feeling guilty
for feeling what you can’t help but feel.
No one you love
wants to read your poems
or hang your art on their walls
and that kind of rejection
deserves a good sulking
and stings as bad as any needle
delivering killing fluid into your veins.
Maybe we’ll both be saved—
the kid and I.
And maybe we’ll both grow old.
Or maybe I’ll be the one to die young
and unexpectedly.  Tomorrow, say.
A car crash or heart attack.
And those who survive me would say
“She didn’t suffer.”
And they wouldn’t be lying,
but they’d be wrong.

DeMaris Gaunt

Published by demarisgaunt

I currently live in Greenwood, Indiana. I love to listen to music, books on CD, podcasts or NPR as I work in my studio.  My favorite artists are Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper. I love poetry, but only the good stuff that isn’t so abstract I can’t understand it. Abstraction better lends itself to visual art, I think. Stephen Dunn is my favorite poet. He’s said just about anything that can be said about the inner workings of the heart and mind. My favorite novel is Atonement by Ian McEwan. My all time favorite band is The Cure. I love science, and anything that relates to how the mind works. I don’t believe in the supernatural. If I could meet anyone in the world, it would be Richard Dawkins or Steven Pinker. If you don’t buy my art or read my poetry, buy one of their books. It will enrich if not change your life.  My favorite things to do are hiking, kayaking and camping. My favorite food is so common, I’ll keep you in suspense (It starts with a P). I prefer chocolate to vanilla. Green is my favorite color. I have an aversion to planning or scheduling of any kind, and I live for spontaneous adventures! Telephone conversations make me anxious, and I avoid them at almost all cost. I had a happy childhood. I’m having a pretty fantastic adulthood. I have every intention of seeing my 100th birthday, after which I will happily relinquish my guts to the future of medicine. Cheers! ~DeMaris

6 thoughts on “Survivors

    1. Wow! Thank you, Heather! That means so much, especially since I was worried that this poem would strike a nerve with those who thought I shouldn’t be comparing ANY kind of pain to the pain of losing a child to cancer. I don’t think anything COULD be worse than losing a child, but I think it’s important to understand that whatever we feel, it deserves to be felt without restraint.

      I also want to say thank you for sharing my work on Twitter! 🙂


  1. I love your art, be it language or visual. Your skilled efforts are always conveyed from your heart to the world, unfettered. Great piece, but I do hope your solitary country cruises wane as you begin to take heart of your unique talents that others, too, enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

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