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Ideal Cities


Ideal cities are cities where the neighbors
play soul music all night long & don't care

who they bother because who doesn't like Holy Ghost
or Loose Booty? Ideal cities have at least one drunk lady

outside the liquor store mornings, who asks you to hold
her cigarette so she can lean in to touch your baby.

In ideal cities, the pharmacist knows your prescriptions
by heart. In ideal cities your neighbor sells pot to the cops

for a living, though you've never seen him do it & most days
he wears a caftan to glue rhinestones on the cement frogs

in his yard. On trash night in ideal cities your other neighbors
swap stories in the alleys. Ideal cities

have margins that aren't pretty or bleak
and are without proper representation

but have no grievances. My ideal city
has a wish list written on the back

of an envelope scrap, an ATM slip.
My ideal city is peripheral and claims

uneven sidewalks. In the ideal city
my neighbor is a taxi driver.

My neighbor is at sea.
My neighbor thinks

his house is haunted
while his wife's away

on business. My neighbor
gives a robber a glass

of Chateau Malescot St-Exupéry
and a hug. In the ideal city my neighbors

are a multi-generational
family & one guy

who puts chairs
in the street

to save a spot
for our moving truck.


Erika Meitner

Ideal Cities
Harper Perennial


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