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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

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.

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

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She breathed a chill that slowed the sap 
inside the phloem, stood perfectly still
inside the dark, then walked to a field 
where the distance crooned in a small 
blue voice how close it is, how the gravity 
of sky pulls you up like steam from the arch.
She sang along until the silence soloed 
in a northern wind
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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

2
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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