University of Kentucky’s Text Alert System

︎︎︎ Jiv Johnson 

︎ June 28, 2021

If I still believed in the power of communication
maybe I’d believe in text alerts. Someone
out here’s always in trouble. My favorite
part of Lexington is the sirens because I never
really know anything. Sometimes, I listen
to old emergency voice mails to discuss
topics with the robot. He doesn’t know anything
except what we tell him and that’s why I’m jealous
of the computer. I wonder if he has a desk
or any cacti for his window. What’s your favorite
key binding? CTRL + V is what I want mine to be
but it’s ALT + TAB, actually. Robots
talk in the language of acronyms. Like CTRL,
or AIM. Sirens again in the afternoon, does he hear
or just read? Does he just speak or does he call,
too? Does he use a number keypad or the ones
above the keyboard? There’s a nurse getting robbed
somewhere in a parking garage right now. He sounds
like he doesn’t care but he tries his best to and I appreciate
it. Acronyms + codes like 211-in-progress. My favorite
acronym is MILF, for contrast. He does not
find it funny. He recedes and records into the static
like a television set but he is most definitely not a television
because he is relevant. He is used by texting this word
to this number. Did you hear about the revolution in
The United States of America?; there’s a sentry on every corner,
cornering around on CCTV cameras; there are men in handyman
attire, attaching cords to the plaster walls; there is
a robbery occurring in a parking garage, please stay
away from all windows and lock your doors but
stay online, we need you very badly. Badly, like the
robbery going on. It’s a gun no it’s a knife, no.
He doesn’t care, I want him to tell me more
but he won’t so the sky tumbles down on me
like a plastic bin. Metaphor is extravagant and simile
like a virus. Irrelevant descriptions. Mulder off X-Files
told me about the aliens but I think they’re already here
and they’re not green they’re grey. They sound
like keyboard keys typing in a neon bedroom;
they sound like a drone strike launched from
a refitted retail outlet office;
they sound primitive like a payphone being slammed. Text alerts for eternity
is all I need to keep me away from men with guns. Treat life
like a Wikipedia article; follow blue words from
Adolf Hitler to World War 2 to United States of America
to the Internet to iPhone to iOS 8 to Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector.
I go down on the list from a shooting to an arson to an old woman
who tripped down her steps and swears that a clown pointed
a heavy machine gun at her. Whatever happened to flip phones?
He screeches a dial tone but the towers fell a long time ago:
do you remember Crocker? John McCain? Saddam? Zezima?
They’re still stacked in him, lined up in ash urns
on dark shelves. Circuit boards are people, too.
I don’t even remember why I’m on him—by now
I’ve ignored all the text alerts. I don’t care about
the woman getting robbed at Parking Structure 3 or the kid
getting shot on campus. I don’t care about a gas leak
up the street. I sent those messages straight to inbox.
He gave me conversation, here, at college, where I’ll never
know anything. I tap the button at the top.

Jiv Johnson is an accountant from Kentucky. He currently resides in Los Angeles. He has a father, a mother, and a brother.