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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
The downward turning touch
the cry of time
fire falling without sound
plunge my hand in the wound

children marching and dying
all that I do is a crime
because I do not reach
their mouths silently crying

my boychild reaches with his mouth
it is easy, being a mother
his skin is tender and soft
kisses stitch us
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 am not lyric any more
I will not play the harp
for your pleasure

I will not make a joyful
noise to you, neither
will I lament

for I know you drink 
lamentation, too,
like wine

so I dully repeat
you hurt me
I hate you

I pull my eyes away from the hills
I will not kill for you
I will never love you again