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The Good Life

When some people talk about money
They speak as if it were a mysterious lover
Who went out to buy milk and never
Came back, and it makes me nostalgic
For the years I lived on coffee and bread,
Hungry all the time, walking to work on payday
Like a woman journeying for water
From a village without a well, then living
One or two nights like everyone else
On roast chicken and red wine.

—Tracy K. Smith

From Life on Mars. Copyright © 2011 by Tracy K. Smith.

Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc. on behalf of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota,

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Tracy K. Smith (1972- ) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and currently serves as the 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. The author of three poetry collections, including Life on Mars (Graywolf Press, 2011), Smith is the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities, and Director of the Creative Writing Program, at Princeton University.

Learn more about Tracy K. Smith.