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 In My Unknowing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020), 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 I Would Lie To You I I Could (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018) and Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers Stapled Songs (Marick Press, 2011)He is the essay editor at Plume Online Poetry Magazine, a trustee of the Ruth Stone Trust, and the former poet laureate of Vermont (2015-2019). His poems have appeared recently in Poetry, The Michigan Quarterly, The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Antioch Review, AGNI, and Blackbird.