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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, April 22, 2016.
About this Poem 

“The inspiration for this poem came from something my friend told me about her grown daughter’s creative projects, to which I added fantasies of my own. I think the utopian impulse is generated partly by distress at the world as it is, and partly by something childish (in my case girlish) or even infantile in us, some memory of a time when everything was okay. Of course, the poem says you can’t get there from here—though it can seem so close.”
—Alicia Ostriker

Utopian

My neighbor’s daughter has created a city
you cannot see
on an island to which you cannot swim
ruled by a noble princess and her athletic consort
all the buildings are glass so that lies are impossible
beneath the city they have buried certain words
which can never be spoken again
chiefly the word divorce which is eaten by maggots
when it rains you hear chimes
rabbits race through its suburbs
the name of the city is one you can almost pronounce

Copyright © 2016 by Alicia Ostriker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 22, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Alicia Ostriker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 22, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Alicia Ostriker

Alicia Ostriker

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1937, Alicia Ostriker has been a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. She currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

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Just finished folding laundry. There's the news. A slender prisoner, ankles shackled, nude back and legs striped by a brown substance you might take for blood but which probably is feces, hair long, arms extended at shoulder level like a dancer or like Jesus, walks toward a soldier with rolled-up pants and a gun,

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Do you remember our earnestness our sincerity
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The Beautiful along with the Star-Spangled Banner
and say the Pledge of Allegiance to America

We put our hands over our first grade hearts
we felt proud to be citizens of America

I said One

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he can prove it exists and is everywhere

forming invisible haloes around everything
and somehow because of gravity
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