Sonnet. To Tell the Truth

By Alicia Ostriker b. 1937 Alicia Ostriker
To tell the truth, those brick Housing Authority buildings   
For whose loveliness no soul had planned,
Like random dominoes stood, worn out and facing each other,   
Creating the enclosure that was our home.

Long basement corridors connected one house to another   
And had a special smell, from old bicycles and baby carriages   
In the storage rooms. The elevators
Were used by kissing teenagers.

The playground—iron swingchains, fences, iron monkey bars,   
Iron seesaw handles, doubtless now rusted—
Left a strong iron smell on my hands and in the autumn air   
And rang with cries. To me it is even precious

Where they chased the local Mongoloid, yelling “Stupid Joey! Stupid Joey!”
Now I’ve said everything nice I can about this.

Alicia Ostriker, “Sonnet. To Tell the Truth” from The Little Space: Poems Selected and New, 1968-1998. Copyright © 1998 by Alicia Ostriker. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: The Little Space: Poems Selected and New 1968-1998 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998)

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Poet Alicia Ostriker b. 1937

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Youth, Living

Poetic Terms Sonnet, Free Verse

 Alicia  Ostriker


Poet, critic, and activist Alicia Ostriker was born in 1937 in New York City. She earned degrees from Brandeis and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Twice a finalist for the National Book Award, Ostriker has published numerous volumes of poetry, including The Book of Seventy (2009), which received the Jewish National Book Award. Other books of poetry include No Heaven (2005); The Volcano Sequence (2002); Little Space (1998), . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Youth, Living

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Sonnet, Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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