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Painting by Alejandro Costas

Amaya here and maybe it’s because today was mid-term Election Day in the U.S., or it’s because of the accelerating rate at which species and forests are being wiped off the earth, or even it’s because my dog was outside chasing squirrels and the neighbor boy went to get the mail and our gentle, wouldn’t hurt a fly, nanny-of-a-dog wouldn’t stop barking at him to the point where he was frozen in fear. Whatever the reason, I’m thinking a lot today about creating different circumstances and visualizing my own version of utopia, where animals can run free and be at peace with squirrels and small children alike, etc, etc.

I realize there has been considerable criticism of even broaching the subject of ideal societies and [cue dreadful ‘dun dun dun’ ditty] COMMUNISM! I think back to my high school government class and the teacher asked us if we could choose, what kind of government would we implement? I said a capitalist dictatorship –“But a good one!”– just to see what he would say, and he reacted as you are likely doing now, with an eye roll, a harumph, and a swift dismissal moving to another hypothetical, slightly less casuistic scenario. Yes, my proposal was more reminiscent of a 6 year old’s mind, not a 16 year old’s, but isn’t it childlike imagination and natural altruism that are what’s missing from our world’s societies? I don’t see harm in infusing a bit of idealism into the systems in place, and perhaps even, I don’t know, turn them on their heads.

Consider this excerpt from Lauren Groff’s novel about a sixties commune, Arcadia:

It was the people, the interconnection, everyone relying on everyone else, the closeness. The villages are all dying now, small-town America is dying, and the only place where the same feeling exists now is here, in the city, millions of people all breathing the same air. This, here, now, is more utopia than utopia, more than your pretty little house out in the middle of the forest with only woodchucks for neighbors. Can’t you see? All of we kids are here, almost all of the kids from Arcadia, are here in the city. We’ve gone urban because we’re all looking for what we lost. This is the only place that approximates it. The closeness. The connection.

Or the poem, ‘Toward Utopia’ by Louis Gilmore:

The product of utopiasts is varied
Each to his own idea
the pattern state

c’est moi

An ivied wall surrounds it

Over its portals read

The castles in the close
are air-conditioned
The Muses dance aloofly
on the green


And if you haven’t seen La Belle Verte, directed by Coline Serreau, a film in which highly evolved aliens from a utopian planet go on a mission to save other planets but they’re reluctant to go to Earth because it’s particularly toxic and set in its ways, then spend a few minutes and check out the trailer:

So tonight cheer me up with a poem about your personal paradise. You can choose to make a list poem, or be specific and focus on one aspect. Perhaps you’re living it and you want to highlight your optimism? Go for it. Even humor me with a parody if the idea is too wacky/hippie for you. I won’t bite. I’m just the bartender (and fresh out of the kool-aid.)

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