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About this poet

Born in Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1953, David Rivard is the author of Sugartown (Graywolf Press, 2005); Bewitched Playground (2000); Wise Poison, which won the 1996 James Laughlin Award; and Torque (1987), which won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and was published by the Pitt Poetry Series.

Rivard's honors include two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and fellowships from the Massachusetts Arts Foundation and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He has also received the Celia B. Wagner Award from the Poetry Society of America and a Pushcart Prize.

David Rivard is Poetry Editor at the Harvard Review and teaches at Tufts University and the Vermont College MFA in Writing Program. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Plural Happiness

David Rivard, 1953
A curtain bellying like a pregnant cloud, warm white
light refracted through a tumbler of peat-smoked scotch—
a scorcher of a day at cooling end, with stupendous berries
to eat in lieu of supper, the scoffed pint box of blueberries
chased by a half of cantaloupe & Maytag blue cheese
spread across the remains of last night's baguette—
a plural happiness—I feel encouraged for all
within range—even the hang-gliding error that sent
Jesus spiraling down to earth seems a commitment.
Tomorrow we'll go to Alison's wedding, who
at age 2 & 3/4 attended our wedding 26 years ago,
her blond curls a mystery to be held up & photographed
between her mother & father dark-haired Diane & Larry—
in the riddle of our recessive genes once in a while
something surprising waits for anybody out & about.
Like hearing for the first time a blind preacher or waking
in a Gros Vent campground south of Jenny Lake,
the best happiness is always accidental,—& why not?
I was going to say something about boundlessness
back there (or was it getting gassed I meant?), but that
isn't it exactly either. Tho it is pretty close. Close
enough. And real. Real enough, & sure. God it felt good
to heat water on a primus stove while yawning
and to wash my face in cold Gros Vent & love Michaela.

Copyright © 2011 by David Rivard. Reprinted from Otherwise Elsewhere with the permission of Graywolf Press.

David Rivard

David Rivard

Born in 1953, David Rivard is the author of Wise Poison, which won the 1996 James Laughlin Award

by this poet

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The moon in time lapse sliding over skyline
the way a remote frisbee might wheel through air
as slowly as a banjo once floated across the wide
Missouri River in my

poem
I've died enough by now I trust
just what's imperfect or ruined.  I mean God,
God who is in the stop sign
asking to be shotgunned, the ocean that evaporates even
as we float.  God the bent nail & broken lock,
and God the hangnail.  The hangnail.
And a million others might be like me, our hopes
a kind of