Monday, January 22, 2018


Every year, for many years, we played a game of Monopoly on Thanksgiving day. I got tired of the game after awhile, but because it was a tradition, I continued playing it with the family (until the last few years, when we found a new game that everyone liked better). So when I read this poem in my weekly American Life in Poetry email, it brought back happy memories.

Introduction by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006: 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.


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

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2016 by Connie Wanek, “Monopoly,” from Rival Gardens: New and Selected Poems, (Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2016). Poem reprinted by permission of Connie Wanek and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2018 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.

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