Poem: The Problem

The Prob­lem
–Tay­lor Mali
From What Learn­ing Leaves

You’re the this that some­body ought to do some­thing about.
      — Jef­frey McDaniel

The guy in front of me try­ing to get on the subway
who is block­ing my way onto the subway
is not the problem.
He’s my problem,
but even I am not so self-cen­tered as to think that my problem
is THE problem.
Besides, he’s try­ing to do what I’m try­ing to do:
get on the subway.
I rec­og­nize him as my broth­er in transit.
No, he’s not the problem.
Nor is the woman in front of him,
nor even the peo­ple in front of her.
None of us is the problem,
we few, we hap­py hap­py few,
we band of tran­sit brothers.

But there’s a guy inside the subway
with noth­ing but emp­ty space to his left.
You know who he is? He’s the problem.
I wish he would look at me and say
“What’s your prob­lem?” so I could say
“Don’t you mean, who?”
All he would need to do is step aside
and we could all get on.
But does he real­ize this? Noooo.
Does he know he’s the prob­lem? Noooo.
Do prob­lems ever real­ize that they’re problems?
That’s why they’re problems.

Which makes me think,
am I any­body’s problem?
Am I keep­ing any­one from get­ting somewhere?
Not out of cal­cu­lat­ed­ly mali­cious intent
but unwit­ting­ly lazy complacency.
If I knew where to look, would I see some­one point­ing at me
angri­ly try­ing to get me to do something
that might not occur to me otherwise?

New life resolution:
try to be aware of the problem.
If you don’t know what it is, it’s prob­a­bly you.
So step aside.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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