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.
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 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. Five years later, he left to pursue poetry, attending the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he received his MFA in 1985.
Returning to New England, deNiord taught at private schools for over a decade while publishing his poems. In 1990, he published his first poetry collection, Asleep in the Fire (University of Alabama Press, 1990), while teaching comparative religions and philosophy at the Putney School in Vermont.
In 1998, deNiord began teaching at Providence College, where he was eventually named the tenth recipient of the Joseph R. Accinno Faculty Teaching Award. That same year, he founded the Spirit and Letter Workshop, a ten-day program of workshops and lectures in Patzquaro, Mexico, featuring faculty poets such as Thomas Lux, Gerald Stern, Jean Valentine, and Ellen Bryant Voigt, among others.
In 2002, deNiord cofounded the New England College MFA program in poetry, which he directed until 2007.
DeNiord’s other poetry collections are Interstate (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015); Speaking in Turn, a collaboration with Tony Sanders (Gnomon Press, 2011); The Double Truth (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011); Night Mowing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005); and Sharp Golden Thorn (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). DeNiord also authored a book of essays and interviews with renowned poets called Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs: Reflections and Conversations with Twentieth Century American Poets (Marick Press, 2012). The poets featured in the collection include Robert Bly, Lucille Clifton, Donald Hall, Galway Kinnell, and Maxine Kumin, among others.
DeNiord is currently a professor of English at Providence College and the poet laureate of Vermont. He lives in Westminster West, Vermont.
Interstate (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)
Speaking in Turn, a collaboration with Tony Sanders (Gnomon Press, 2011)
The Double Truth (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011)
Night Mowing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005)
Sharp Golden Thorn (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003)
Asleep in the Fire (University of Alabama Press, 1990)
Date Published: 2017-01-25
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/children-aleppo