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American Life in Poetry: ‘Monopoly’

I’m writing this column on a very cold day, and it’s nice to be inside with a board game to play, but better yet, for me at least, to be inside with a poem about a board game. This Monopoly game by Connie Wanek is from her book “Rival Gardens: New and Selected Poems,” from the University of Nebraska Press.

Monopoly

We used to play, long before we bought real houses.

A roll of the dice could send a girl to jail.

The money was pink, blue, gold, as well as green,

and we could own a whole railroad

or speculate in hotels where others dreaded staying:

the cost was extortionary.

At last one person would own everything,

every teaspoon in the dining car, every spike

driven into the planks by immigrants,

every crooked mayor.

But then, with only the clothes on our backs,

we ran outside, laughing.

Poem copyright 2016 by Connie Wanek, from “Rival Gardens: New and Selected Poems” (University of Nebraska Press, 2016), and reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by the Poetry Foundation and the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.