American Life in Poetry

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.


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.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It also is supported by the department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Introduction copyright 2014 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. Unsolicited manuscripts are not accepted.