Poem-A-Day

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is now distributed via email, web, and social media to 300,000+ readers free of charge and is available for syndication by King Features.

Dream of Heaven

About this Poem 

“This poem was inspired by a friend who writes every day without any overriding ambition to publish his superb stories. He occasionally checks in to cheap motels by the ocean just to write. His love of writing for the sake of writing reminded me of John Berryman’s advice to the young W. S. Merwin when he was a student at Princeton—advice that Merwin recounts in his poem ‘Berryman’: “I had hardly begun to read / I asked how can you ever be sure / that what you write is really / any good at all and he said you can’t // you can’t you can never be sure / you die without knowing / whether anything you wrote was any good / if you have to be sure don’t write.” I found these lines disturbing at first, then strangely consoling, almost in the religious sense.  But how to write about writing as its own ultimate reward and capture its never-ending process at the same time? In the conceit of a dream, I thought. I almost called this poem ‘Motel Seven.’”
Chard deNiord

Dream of Heaven

Chard deNiord, 1952

I’d smoke cigars all day and into the night
while I wrote and wrote without
any hope or slightest assurance
that anything I’d written actually mattered
or rose to a standard of literary merit.
I’d languish in the smoke that did me in
and call it the cloud of my unknowing,
so sweet in its taste, such as it was,
of Cuban soil. That would be paradise
in heaven that’s so overrated as endless
bliss it kills to imagine as a place for living
forever, no less, with nothing to do
or lips to kiss. I’d curse, therefore,
with the best of them—the legion
of Saved—as I sharpened my pencils
and smoked my Punches in the simple room
that I’d be given with a desk for writing
and bed for remembering the things
I’d forgotten. And reading too, I almost
forgot. I’d read and read since I’d be done
with sleeping, but dreaming, no, still dreaming
a lot. I’d live to live again with moments
of dying to see how “lucky” I was. I’d use
my body as an eidolon with invisible wings
that fluttered in the void as if it were air
and hummed in the dark in which I could see.

Copyright © 2015 by Chard deNiord. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 27, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Chard deNiord. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 27, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.