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Someone has balled the clouds and thrown them into one corner of the sky—the clouds getting together up there, and moving this way.
Someone has sharpened the trees and jammed them in.
Someone has parked the cars with just the right amount of distance between them—and then one of the cars is parked too close, front and back. That’s the car to worry about. Don’t park like that.
It’s time to go, says the mourning dove. Where?
Someone makes us take the longest way around the lawn. Sidewalks rather than more efficient walks—someone decided.
What I have in common with other people is that we’re different people.
Someone has put Beauty in the same aisle as Health Essentials.
It’s not a moral place out there.
Someone has used the human penchant for choice to justify their self-loathing. Now it’s a weapon.
Real people have big problems.
Someone has divided us. We succumb to those divisions: you’re over there and I’m over here, and we’re not the same.
Rarely do we get the exact ice cream. Despite quality control, and the consistency with which mixing and chilling and the addition of artificial flavors makes for taste testing approval, and unified branding concepts, and the ice cream always squarely on the same shelf in frozen foods, the flavor’s wrong. Not quite Mint Chip, when Mint Chip is why.
Money is unfair.
Someone has decided to increase the differences we feel. Some of that’s physical: we’re aware of not having the body of the person next to us, or what that person could possibly be feeling. Alternatively, we also might feel closer to that stranger, but then it’s time to go, we’re gone.
Someone has put windows in our rooms, to accentuate our longing. We pay more for rooms with windows, for rooms with views, for our own backyard or “fire escape,” which might be ironic, or simply part of the plan.
What’s the difference between a clock that’s four minutes slow and one that’s not? Someone made me care.
Someone has built obsolescence into my nostalgia.
Now or later, no matter.
There are living beings we cannot see, and they’re here too. Some are organisms or microbes, we know that, but others might be something else. What we can’t see too often remains beyond our ability to imagine, even though we suspect that problem has to do with the current limitations of science—it’s worth blaming science, until there’s some kind of legit study that proves the problem is the human imagination.
Someone keeps changing the technology, so that aging happens faster and lasts longer. The people who are aging faster are older than the younger people—and that’s a feeling some older people like to take personally. Except in some other cultures.
It’s true the people who keep changing the technology are young people.
If I were in charge, there would be no difference between the inside and outside. But someone else is in charge. Someone’s out there.
Is it you? And if so, will you help?
About Alan Michael Parker
Alan Michael Parker is a writer and cartoonist. The author of four novels, eight books of poetry, he has won a number of awards for his work; in 2021, he judged the National Book Award in fiction. AMP holds the Houchens Chair in English at Davidson College in North Carolina. His next book will be a collection of flash fictions, Bingo cards, and ephemera: BINGO BANGO BOINGO (Dzanc Books, 2024); he contributes a weekly cartoon to Identity Theory magazine.
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