Catherine Tufariello


Spending Mall

Something there is that doesn’t love a mall,
That opens potholes in the parking lot,
Leaves smelly puddles by the carousel
And piles of sweaty clothes in dressing rooms;
That makes pipes clog and toilets overflow,
Parental temples throb and salesclerks snap,
And adolescents swagger five abreast.
My daughter rolls her eyes when I propose
She mow the neighbors’ lawn or babysit
And earn a little pocket change, instead
Of “hanging” at the mall with friends all day.
She only says, “Dad, I need twenty dollars.”
Another double sawbuck?  When she got
Her birthday check from Grandma just last week,
And her allowance only yesterday?
Why does she need to buy a nineteenth pair
Of jeans that look as if a shredder ate them,
A hundredth hair band, or another shirt
Printed with skulls and peace signs? Or to please
The gangly, pimpled boys in baggy pants
That circle like a pack of yelping dogs?
And yet it is no drooling boy that makes
Slow elevators jammed with claustrophobes
Shudder and stall, or escalators seize
With gleaming claws a hem or high-heeled shoe,
Dragging the hapless wearer to her knees.
I think it is the selfsame force that sets
Fluorescent lights abuzz like angry bees
And turns the waxed floors treacherous, I tell her.
The work of zombies is another thing:
I have come after them and found remains
From Sears to Macy’s of the juicy brains
They slurped with soda straws and ice cream spoons,
For they would have fresh victims every morning
To feed their gnawing greed. It isn’t elves,
Either, dislodging sweaters from the shelves,
And making toddlers whine and babies bawl
Until the food court echoes with their hollers.
Something there is that doesn’t love a mall,
That wants it down!  I see her standing there,
Earphoned, oblivious, tossing back her hair
That’s streaked bright blue, texting with bright blue nails.
She can’t hear anything her father’s saying,
But says again, “Dad, I need twenty dollars.”


purpleLCatherine Tufariello is poet-in-residence at Christ College, the honors college of Valparaiso University.  Her poems have appeared recently in Irresistible Sonnets, The Beautiful Anthology, 250 Poems, and the broadside series Poetry by Post. Her teenage daughter would like readers to know that she would never wear a skull-print headband.