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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 25, 2017.
About this Poem 

“After reading several recent news stories about the targeted air strikes on schools, homes, and hospitals in the rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo, Syria, I felt compelled to write a poem about these horrific war crimes, focusing specifically on the hundreds of child casualties that have resulted from these bombings.”
—Chard deNiord

Children of Aleppo

The children were asking
a thousand questions about why
the sky was blue and grass was green
when suddenly their tongues
were stilled by an answer they
never saw. Now silence rings
in their place so loud a stone
can hear it in Arkansas.
So why not the men inside
the sky who only hear the roar
beneath their wings that rip
the clouds? Who believe the distance
is theirs for the way it turns
the heavens into a high of feeling
nothing at all? In which
they have everywhere to turn
as excellent pilots—really
superb—with nowhere to go.

Copyright © 2017 by Chard deNiord. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 25, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Chard deNiord. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 25, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Chard deNiord

Chard deNiord

Chard deNiord was born on December 17, 1952, in New Haven, Connecticut, and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he attended Lynchburg College. The son of a doctor, deNiord anticipated going into the medical profession as well until his college professors introduced him to religious studies, which he chose as his major. DeNiord graduated from Lynchburg College in 1975 and went on to earn his MDiv from Yale Divinity School in 1978. Before pursuing ordination, deNiord got a job working as an inpatient psychiatric aide at the Connecticut Mental Health Center.

by this poet

poem

My tongue leapt out of my mouth
when I lied to her and hopped away
to the stream below the house.
Mute then, I started to write the truth.
My tongue turned wild in the stream,
for which I was glad and unashamed.
I listen now from my porch to the complex things
it says in the

poem
I still taste you from the time
you painted my tongue
with your scarlet finger.
It cured my heart of innocence,
that single dose, and I have tasted it—
the double truth—ever since:
the bittersweet in the words
I cannot speak but stick
in my mouth like stones
I've learned to talk around.
poem

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