From Alt Vices


We say grace before eating and file into orderly lines to exchange commerce. In this way we ritualize patience. Are virtues something practiced but never owned? We rent what we cannot afford but buy what we must borrow for. When someone close to us dies we are inspired to live for the moment—and what of the moment we’ve patiently waited for? Virtuous people create art just as scandalous. We are more judgmental of our flaws when they appear in others. It is even easier to begrudge the incongruity of art.


As children we are overtly rewarded for good grades and behavior. In this way each generation incites the next to work for a living. Reward systems are less conspicuous as we age but are they any less effective? Societal class determines if indulgence is learned or believed earned. Over time we diversify our surroundings before surrounding ourselves with shared vocabularies. In this way experience advocates dating many people before marrying. If we physically enter and leave the world at the alt-default of singularity, striving for companionship in between is some kind of rebellion. But do we feel more present when we belie our past and future selves?



When surrounded by interesting people, one thing we feel is dull. Our perception of others is shrouded by our perception of ourselves. But shouldn’t we feel more like farmers when everyone around us also owns a plow and sheep? Temperament aside, we want the interest others take in us to be genuine. In this way we take genuine interest in others. Reciprocal concern is not adequately expressed in every moment. Forget imbalanced desire. Friendships that form without intent enjoy the art of surprise.



Michelle Dove is the author of Radio Cacophony, forthcoming from Big Lucks Books. Recent writing appears or will appear in Chicago Review, Alice Blue Review, DIAGRAM, ILK, and Sixth Finch. She lives in Washington, DC.



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