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 six books of poetry, most recently Interstate (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015) and The Double Truth (The University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011) and two books of interviews with eminent American poets titled Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers Stapled Songs and I Would Lie To You If I Could.. His new book of poems titled In My Unknowing is due out this coming February, also from by the University of Pittsburgh Press. His poems have appeared recently in Poetry, The Michigan Quarterly, The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Antioch Review, AGNI, and Blackbird. He served as Poet Laureate of Vermont from 2015 to 2019.