My Letter to the Parking Clerk
Paul Hostovsky

Sir, I am a clerk like yourself,
not some kook from Chelsea,
and I appeal to your sense of
the record, which I want to set
straight. You can see from my
margins I am the kind of man
who pays attention to limits
of time and space and I swear
on the eyes of my dead mother
who taught me punctuality and
the value of thrift, not to mention
good manners and a contempt for
poor excuses in general, I should
be excused from paying enclosed
parking violation #87763219-CJ
affixed to my vehicle via the left
wiper on 7 June at the corner of
Commonwealth and Main for who
doesn’t love a good parade, sir?
Public expressions of patriotism
warm the cockles of my heart
(a cockle is a bivalve mollusk with
valves, sir, whence the expression)
but I ask you, how can a patriot
such as yourself or myself cross a
street with a parade going on just
to get to the other side like some
proverbial chicken before his meter
runs out? Somewhere in the desert
a young soldier, a boy really, barely
old enough to drive, must face this
tough decision alone: does he stay
and risk everything for the sake of
a music, a wind fluttering in his soul
which is what tells him he has a soul,
or does he run back to his vehicle
which waits for him in a green shade
with its spurious promise of cover
and freedom via escape? When his
number comes up, sir, there is no
mailing it back with a note from his
mother. He pays. And when he pays
we all pay. Please reconsider. Yours,


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