Galleria Ode

Something there is that doesn’t love the mall
where we used to chainsmoke on the mezzanine
and watch the escalator’s endless crawl
up from Häagen-Dazs to Chuck E. Cheese—
something so embarrassed by it all, it shatters glass 
and scatters yellow lading slips among the weeds,

and strips whole runs of copper from the walls
of what was once a Limited, a County Seat—

their slender mannequins spray-painted now
with cartoon boobs and cocks, unseen
until the new kids come to flash their phones
inside the ancient ruins of the Regal 6—

where webless, clueless, on our own,
we used to hold hands in the dark and kiss.


Copyright © 2023 by Patrick Phillips. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 2, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“I started writing this after stumbling upon a website where you can look up all the dead malls of America and scroll through grainy photos of their glory days. The eighties and nineties were my glory days, too, so I guess I feel a certain sympathy for all that ruined splendor! It’s easy to laugh at such places, but, for me, that’s mixed with a lot of affection, since the mall is where—in the era of my pre-Internet youth—we used to live and work and even fall in love.”
—Patrick Phillips