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There's process to this poetry

Notes (why not?) on "At the All Mall":

I started it Friday afternoon while sitting in a corner of Clackamas Town Center, a mall that's an easy TriMet trip from where I live. I sat, thought, then wrote a little more than half of the poem. Lately I've tried not to take too long to write each one: get to an end that makes sense, revise, and share. I figure that keeps me honest and less fussy. I knew this one would be slightly longer than a lot of my recent poems, but I like that I still got it done in two days.

Where this poem starts going a little askew is "You can be born in the All Mall." I don't know where that line came from. I first followed with "(What do you think the Babies R Us is for?") — an intentional aside that just hints at Something Going On, in a way that I chuckled at. I cut it because it seemed overly specific*, in a way I couldn't explain without a longish digression I didn't want to write. And aren't most Babies R Us stores not directly connected to malls? I've usually seen them as big-box stores standing apart. I then tried "(The best hospital is attached, after all.)", but that seemed wrongly specific in another way...and again, how many malls are attached to full-on hospitals? The All Mall is a different kind of mall in a different time, but I wanted to hint at the differences. I finally wrote, and was happy with ", if your parents pay the right price." That fit better, I felt.

That's also the only time I specifically brought up prices and, by extension, currency. I almost brought up prices again with my original ending, which repeated the poem's first two lines but added "with money." I felt that was too on-the-nose, too obvious. YOU'RE MEANT TO SPEND AT A MALL? YOU DON'T SAY.

I like that the poem moves from attempted disarming humor to less humor as it goes on. It seems friendlier at first then moves to...less friendly. More calculated. More processed.

This kind of mall will never exist, except in the words I made a little more poetic.




* Specifics, though, can be funny — like in my fake Ernest Hemingway story.)

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