Chard deNiord (Vermont, USA): Three Poems


Death is the mother of beauty.
Wallace Stevens

They emerged from a door that wasn’t a door
and floated across the room to the stage
which they ascended and began to sway
and bend and turn with only their g strings on.
I sat at the bar drinking gin and smoking
a cigar, watching them work beneath
the lights, accept the funds of happy men
who took great care in folding their bills
like miniature towels inside the belts
around their thighs that went k’ching,
k’ching, until a ring of bills adorned
their thighs and the music stopped
for a moment, long enough for them
to disappear into the dark of the high
stone door at the end of the stage
where they waved good bye, good bye
and then were gone beneath the world
like the ghosts they were, to rest for a while,
the longest time, before returning live
to die again as they had before.


Memory is almost enough if you’re in solitary
or intensive care in which case the past merges
with the present in such a way that time passes
imperceptibly as thought itself causing you to lose
yourself in various versions of what only partly happened
so that you’re here and not here at the same time,
both real and virtual, adding recall to supposition
and vice versa in the mercy of waiting somewhere,
as if the Higher Power were cognizant from the start
that pre-humans were destined to become human
that moment they became aware that they were remembering,
remembering, and it wasn’t enough, and as an addendum
to this thought, that nothing was enough, nor ever would be,
would be. A wind blows across the earth like a page:
More, More, Whatever It Is. See how it passes away-
girders and all-in the flames you can only see on the screen
of your lids, not so towering but persistent, licking.
The single stroke that Lily made comes close,
her simple, untalented mark that was enough for then,
and now, which is all anyone can hope for at the end
of a war, which is always, at least so far. So far.


I willed the knife to hit the mark and it did
sometimes at the point, and stuck. Practice led
to skill until my eyes were covered with a handker-
chief and my beloved straddled a wheel
for all to see as I threw at her but hit
the space between her legs, beside her head,
beneath her arms. This was it, all
or nothing: my life and hers in a perfect art
where every night she was reprieved for having
lived, and I was kissed as she was freed
as part of the act that traveled the country and built
my fame as the man who misses with perfect aim.

© Chard deNiord 2007