It’s come to this:

you want it more than money.


It isn’t the bed sheets

or the scenery out the kitchen window


that need to be replaced

or improved


it’s the tired way the mornings begin

before the need for coffee


is great enough to pull you to that view

that spreads out like art


on a giant canvas.

That gap between the mountains


feels like a vacancy

only you can fill,


but there it is—

the clock on the wall


a reminder

that time doesn’t belong to you


that you belong to someone

else’s landscape.


Your good health

gives you no excuse to call in sick


instead of hiking into the mountains

where the gray stones are as dull and valuable


as those nickels that accumulate

in your deepest pockets.


DeMaris Gaunt


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.




Before You Sit Down

Before You Sit Down

If you knew you’d not get lost

would you explore

those exquisite caves that

begin as small dark circles

in the distance?


If you climbed upward

toward the rocky threshold

and passed through the tunnels

with your curiosity and

temporary light,

would you turn around

if you found that another

had arrived before you—

built a fire?


Would you follow the source

of this unexpected warmth

or back away

not wishing to disturb?


And if outside

the familiar sky began to darken

as you were invited to stay,

how many questions

would need to be answered

before you sat down,

switched off your own pale light—

added another log to the fire?


DeMaris Gaunt





It has been your answer

so many times.


It is what you would do





give up.


Any one thing.


If any one thing

could bring back




or change,


you would hand it over




But you have never found scales

sturdy enough to measure

your need

against your hope or

your regret,


and you are still searching

for the powerful hands

that are wide enough

to receive your precious exchange,

compassionate enough

to give it back,


divine enough

not to need it.




DeMaris Gaunt


July 9, 2014

July 9, 2014

There are blueberry muffins

and strawberries for breakfast

waiting peacefully on the oak table

in our brick house on our safe street

often noisy with happy children

like my little boy, six,

who just woke up from a fearless

night’s sleep, unaware that

in the Gaza Strip, nine children

were murdered while he slept,

their families killed too, about thirty in all,

said the guest on the Diane Rehm show.

And with a thick white milk mustache,

my son goes still and doesn’t move

while the news sinks in,

and I wish I’d turned off the radio

before he sat down, before he could look

at me and ask, “Why?”

ready to understand what I wasn’t sure

could ever be explained.



DeMaris Gaunt