Chard deNiord

June 9, 2015 deNiord Chard


For Philip Levine


History sings “misery, misery.”

The force that gives us meaning

is terrible, bloody and sweet.

So many lenses the clock holds

up to the past in shades of rose,

lilac, and pansy. The holy,

irrevocable scenes of things

as they were—ignited, burned,

mistaken. The day, as in, back in…

The day, as in the day we played

both sides of the ball; the day,

as in the day we talked to God,

then wrote it down; the day,

as in the day we lived offline

in caves and drew on walls;

the day, as in the day a pack

of cigarettes cost a couple of dimes,

the same as gas; the day, as in the

first, the second, the third, the last;

the day, as in the day we waited

in line for how many hours

to say to the man like Phil Levine,

“I want your job”; the day, as in

the day we built enormous things

with only our hands, then threw

away the plans; the day, as in

the day no novocaine numbed

the pain and we felt it to the bone.

Chard deNiord is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently In My Unknowing (University of Pittsburgh Press 2020) and Interstate (U. of Pittsburgh, 2015). He is also the author of two books of interviews with eminent American poets titled Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs, Conversations and Reflections on 20th Century Poetry (Marick Press, 2011) and I Would Lie To You If I Could  (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018). He co-founded the New England College MFA program in 2001 and the Ruth Stone Foundation in 2011. He served as poet laureate of Vermont from 2015 to 2019 and taught English and Creative Writing for twenty-two years at Providence College, where is now a Professor Emeritus. He lives in Westminster West, Vt. with his wife, the painter, Liz Hawkes deNiord.