Trying on Alternate Selves at the Abandoned Mall

Two poems by A. M. Goodhart

Trying on Alternate Selves at the Abandoned Mall


The mall my mom took me to in a stroller shut down
a shutdown mall is the opposite of a pelican—
it feeds nothing with its body
dies like a politician, taking servants with him

that fountain for pennies is now broke and dry,
the atrium where my mother bought me slurpies
must look like a shipwreck now; half the stores
didn’t have lights on when I gave myself brain freeze.

The light in a mall is unearthly, makes me feel like a bug
caught between the god of a light bulb,
and the smooth glass of his church,

once, in a mall, I stepped with timid feet into the men’s section
I felt the three colors of fabric in my hands and put on the shirts
that have the give of an octogenarian helping his spouse ease into a coat

I avoided the eyes of teenage boys, who must scare themselves with categories
the man behind the counter had surprised eyes, but didn’t say anything
salespeople have always been the priests of transition
and I wondered what he would do when the mall shut down

At the bottom of the ocean, gender is inconsequential
fish swap it out like fashion,
swim from one section of a shipwreck to another,
and strip all us humans of our meaning

Hubcap Hunting

One March, my mom lost a hubcap
on her cherished red Corolla, standard shift.
We drove around Columbus looking for it.
She parked on the shoulder of a busy road,
waded ankle-deep in mud, It’s mostly decorative!
she yelled at my anxious face, hoisting up
homeless hubcaps holding them up, like an artist,
like an interior decorator
propped them on the stems of stop signs,
someone will come looking for them
she nodded imperiously shifting gears—
poor Serenity Prayer! The middle child.
Serenity Prayer buckled next to me,
throwing a fit, kicking the driver’s seat.
Me and Serenity Prayer laughed together
hubcaphubcaphubcap what does it mean?
What’s it for? I think mom’s going crazy
and Serenity Prayer and I play Punch Buggy
but Serenity Prayer always punches too hard.

More Like This

March Madness: Book-to-TV Adaptations Edition

Forget basketball and help us choose the best literary television

Mar 24 - Electric Literature

Ask Me Whether or Not I’m Trans

Like “Ranma ½,” my gender euphoria transcends the limits of masculine and feminine

Mar 23 - Addie Tsai

The Debt We Owe Each Other When We Feel Like the World is Ending

In "Flight," Lynn Steger Strong embraces the messiness of family and the promise of community, even when things are dark

Nov 9 - Bekah Waalkes

A Queer Black Anarchist’s Journey to Find Liberation in America and Abroad

In his memoir "When They Tell You to Be Good," Prince Shakur unravels his father's murder while reckoning with the legacy of toxic masculinity

Oct 13 - Phillip Russell
Thank You!