Retirees Association

DDN: Local poet’s words make a permanent mark

Excerpt from the Dayton Daily News

Most all of us have written, at one time or another, on the sidewalk.

And we’ve heard about, or visited, the Dayton Regional Walk of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, each with sidewalk pavers that memorialize accomplished individuals.

Now, a local poet, David Lee Garrison, will have his work memorialized in a unique literary project in Youngstown, Ohio.

“Just recently I was notified that the first stanza of my poem, “Chant of Change” will be stamped into a sidewalk in Youngstown as part of the city’s public poetry project,” David shares.

Lit Youngstown ( is a literary arts non-profit founded in 2015 to celebrate and support the literary arts.

Its “Words Made Visible Sidewalk Project” stamps the words of writers from their excerpted works. (Learn more at

Though the opening stanza alone will be stamped in the Youngstown sidewalk, David shares, with permission his poem in its entirety. It is particularly appropriate for this time of year.

Chant of Change, by David Lee Garrison

Set the clock one hour ahead
and that vague redness
of budding trees glows
against the blue air.
The first warm day
flies out of its nest
and perches inside you,
pecks at your heart.
Turn the clock back an hour
and lose in one day
all the light you saved.
Morning air is lake water.
The wind’s sharpened edge
cuts you open as you cling
to branches, and with their reds
and yellows you fall into winter.
Spring forward, fall back.
The saying that reminds you
not to take root,
the command — like the echo
of a jump rope chant —
to keep on living
and dying. It tells you
what you will do, want to or not:
swim against the current
and drift back, back.

David’s poem is from his collection, “Sweeping the Cemetery,” published by Browser Books. (Though the book has sold out at his publisher, it is still available via and other online publishers.)

The Ohio Poetry Day Association named David, Wright State University Professor Emeritus in Modern Languages, as one of two Ohio Poets of the Year in 2014 in honor of his recent book “Playing Bach in the D.C. Metro.” The title poem from “Playing Bach in the D.C. Metro” was featured by Poet Laureate Ted Kooser on his website, “American Life in Poetry,” and other poems by David Lee Garrison have been read by Garrison Keillor on his radio program, “The Writer’s Almanac.”

His newest poetry collection is “Carpeing the Diem: Poems about High School.” More information about this book may be found at his publisher’s website,