elegy for the walkable city
where do we go, where do we belong
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.