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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.

by this poet

poem

His speed and strength, which is the strength of ten
years, races me home from the pool.
First I am ahead, Niké, on my bicycle,
no hands, and the Times crossword tucked in my rack,
then he is ahead, the Green Hornet,
buzzing up Witherspoon,
flashing around the corner to Nassau

poem
I watched you walking up out of that hole

All day it had been raining
in that field in Southern Italy

rain beating down making puddles in the mud
hissing down on rocks from a sky enraged

I waited and was patient
finally you emerged and were immediately soaked

you stared at me without love in your large eyes
poem

Do you remember our earnestness our sincerity
in first grade when we learned to sing America

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