Requiem for a Dying Mall

It used to be my mall, back when it
used to be my old neighborhood.
It used to be a lot of people’s mall.
Back when the now barren empty
asphalt ocean was once full of cars.

One of the first real malls
long made small and obsolete
by ever leapfrogging, ever mega
megamalls in ever growing
circling nooses of suburbia.

I only visit now because my
car dealerships across the street.
This old tired liver-spotted mall
as good as place as any to catch
a movie, while tires are rotated.

It’s like walking through
an abandoned carnival in the
morning glare, laid bright dead.
Daylight harsh, unforgiving,
too many missing light bulbs.

Empty store fronts given over
to displays and signs begging
“Visit us across from the food court.”
The one hair stylist with her
solitary station in a row of ten.

Offering prayers on toothpicks
“try the Mongolian beef?”
The smell of fresh pretzels
mixing with the sickly incense
from the discount import shop.

The whole world’s on sale,
everything’s fifty percent off
America’s been marked down
2 for 1, take an additional
25 percent off marked price.

Only the pitter patter of
two elderly mall walkers
to break the cutting silence,
there’s not even muzak
to numb the pain.


The Coming Cultural Revolution


I’m really looking forward to the coming cultural revolution of 2010-11 — you know the one being driven by the current recession. Have you been in a coffee shop during the day lately? They’re practically standing room only these days with all the unemployed bloggers? Everyone desperately and earnestly typing away on there laptops. You can’t even get a seat. I even decided to attend a “Blogging Your Way Out of the Recession Seminar”, not a bad way to spend a day, the spread was particularly nice, there were even mimosas. When I talk to some of my friends that are also unemployed, they’ve long gotten past any real hope of a job until the economy starts to turn around – so what to do? Time to dust off that half-finished novel, the screenplay, or the short-story collection.

Forget the NEA, Guggenheim Grants, all those hotty-totty high-brow foundations – the greatest benefactor of the cultural community today – unemployment checks. We creative types are after all hit disproportionately hard by recessions. First, creative types tend to gravitate towards jobs that are particularly fickle and recession prone: marketing, advertising, design, writing, non-profits. Plus we tend not to go “all in” on jobs. They are after all just jobs, a way to pay the bills. We are after all not defined by our jobs so much as our free boxes vista-print cards, and it says right on there things like poet, writer, actor, artist.

It can’t come soon enough though after a summer of recessionista escapist faire like Star Trek, Transformers, and G.I.Joe. By next year, hopefully with the Obamaconomy chugging along (fingers crossed) we’ll all be ready for big Hollywood productions and hard cover releases of this collective societal soul-searching, angst, and identity crisis that unempoyment brings on. There will be the stories of middle-aged executives who’ve blindly toed the corporate line only to be laid off and through a long tortuous self-discovery learn the true meaning of life (actually there will probably be a lot of those). There will be the lemonade out of lemons tales, like for example, an unemployed copywriter who gets laid off, but fortuitously meets a never-give-up singer/dancer/actress stuck doing singing telegrams. They’ll dust of his play and she’ll make it come alive with a little song and dance. They’ll finally be able to pay the rent, on the verge of being kicked out of their apartments, and just in time for the big off-broadway opening of whats bound to be the next great smash musical. There will be the sad tale of an unfulfilled government worker who seeks purpose in life by spending a year going through Julia Child’s cookbook and finding love and support. (OH, never-mind, that one’s actually already been done). You get my drift.

For myself, I’ll just keep chugging along. My book is already floating around out there, but I have no misconceptions that books of poetry ever get made into major motion pictures with oscar-winning stars. I’ve got my usually rotation of works out for submissions. I have though discovered with all this extra time – I really do love to write, I mean really, really love to write. Not that I’d forgotten that, but it had been back-burnered, with all the hustle and bustle of the 9-7. I’ve been able to drop a lot of the pretense about everything having to be momentous and life-shattering, and just let it flow. Even not worry so much about the marketability and whether it’s going to pass muster in this journal or that, just let the work come and throw it out there.