elegy for the walkable city

where do we go, where do we belong

elegy for the walkable city
Photo by Jezael Melgoza / Unsplash

by Lizzy Sparks

in the backseat of an $11.69 Lyft home darkness outside creeping         in
  ultraviolet  city lights  blot out the stars      darken the night sky

office buildings 5-over-1s Bank of Americas Taco Bells: clogged arteries
  blocking blood  from pulsing  to the beating heart  of the city —

do you  feel trapped  beneath the weight of concrete and steel beams,
  beneath the    flicker   of  cold    white   streetlights

beneath  these buildings  that circle around you like fences, like cages,
  beneath these roads that   circle and  circle    endlessly,

this city  was not  built for us:  endless  highways, parking lots
  stretching  prairies  and tundra,  desert and woodland,

where do we go, where do we belong, what is human about this world of flashing lights and buy-more save-more, this world where Jeff Bezos is a Christ we can’t crucify, what is human about all this artificial light, about the roads that stretch endlessly and the humans just out of reach, where is the human, how do you find the human in this, how do you find the human in the Walmart parking lot, how do you find the human off the highway exit — we have nothing to do for miles but talk, so: did you know that Cocaine Bear (2023) was based on a real bear, they found her body and stuffed her, they made her a spectacle, they put her on display at the Kentucky Fun Mall alongside $50 baseball caps — when i die, don’t bother with cremation or a funeral, just embalm me and stuff me and display my body at the Victoria’s Secret in Reno or Anchorage or Toledo, it doesn’t matter which one (they all look the same), it all looks the same — they’ll stitch my lips into a white-toothed grin and i’ll smile knowingly at the prepubescent girls averting their eyes from my half-naked body, my hand will be molded into a wave to soothe concerned mothers as they walk in — don’t worry, it’s just a phase, they’ll fuck a Josh or a Michael or maybe even a Kyle soon enough, don’t worry don’t worry, i was just like them when i was younger and look how i turned out, i’m so perfect and beautiful and sexy i’m sexless, don’t you want this for your darling daughters, isn’t this the American Dream?

Lizzy Sparks is an English and creative writing major at Ohio State, where she has recently read for the annual Non/Fiction Prize. Her work appears in Sheepshead Review and is forthcoming in Mantis and Outrageous Fortune.