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Morning on the Mall

Morning On The Mall                                                                            


Fresh morning gold floods cement meadows.

Early cars swing into a seven A.M.  huddle,

Close to the concrete caves that swallow

Sunshine down their shadowy throats.

“Good-night”  “Good-night” the guards clock out,

With that chronic bounce of light lunacy,

Squinting, dazzled, disoriented.

Inside the tunnels the minions of the mall

Begin their fluorescent day,

Brewing, chewing, dusting, laying out their tills:

Worker moles buried in acres of tarmac.


A man and a boy pull up, wanting breakfast,

Not sure whether the mall is open yet.

Suddenly the boy shades his eyes and cries shrilly,

“Look, Dad!”


Across the empty parking lot wobbles a brilliant

Purple dress, with huge hairy legs

Balanced precariously on steep heels.

A flashy bracelet nestles into the furry wrist

That swings  in wide – brave – insolent arcs

A silver purse on a silver strap.

A ravenous wig darkly gobbles the sunbeams.

This gay spectacle – a comical show –

Pasting a  scarlet smile from midnight mascara

To the sparkling rings on his ears.


The word breezes through the mall,

Whipping up trash as it speeds down the halls

Until all the staffs (save those squatting on the loo

Scanning horoscope pearls) are pressed behind

The grilled glass doors, gaping.

“It’s a transvestite!” “Oh, Lord!” “Who is it?”

“It’s not Ed, is it?”  “Oh, my God!”  “What a freak!”


“Jeez, Dad,” says the kid. “It’s a homo

In woman’s stuff! Is he crazy!”

Dad shifts in his seat to get a better view.

He flushes, gropes for a handkerchief

Deep in his tight trousers,

And dabs the sticky sweat off  his lip

Pressing  the silky linen between his fingers.

“He knows what he’s doing’” he says.

“They come out of the woodwork at night -

Those people - to play with each other -

In the proper places.”

Dad clears his throat hoarsely.

“They’re disgusting at seven A.M.  - on the mall.”


“But, Jeez, Dad,” says the boy,

“What if he doesn’t want to play anymore?

What if he doesn’t care who knows?

What if he has to be a woman?”

The man looks sharply at his son, and says sternly.

“I know these things.”

He adjusts his side mirror to watch the ungainly progress

Of the wobbly heels.

“It is fantasy – pure fantasy.”


Wiping his hot face again, Dad says,

“It’s going to be a warm one today.”

Carefully he wipes  invisible crumbs from his lap

While adjusting his undershorts, grinning at his son.

He gets out quickly, clicks the locks behind him,

Waves to his boy who is watching  him intently,

And strides  across the parking lot.

The purple dress with night-mauve eyes

And Dad

Reach the main door at the same time.

Together they stand uncertainly before the grill.

The silver bag  rests quietly on its silver string.

Faces and bars blur through Dad’s tears.

The two men do not share a single glance.

◄ Bedroom Games

Pandora's Box ►


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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Mon 17th May 2010 17:47

Thanks, Ray. And I intended to check for two 'l's'. Thought of it as I dropped off to sleep. Had stupid dreams too...maybe connected. Isn't that sad? LOL.

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Andy N

Mon 17th May 2010 08:19

lot going on here cynthia.. although it is a poem (and a piece with lots of dialogue which i particularly love!), this could be expanded certainly into a short play or story indeed..

good stuff either way.. really enjoyed it!

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Ray Miller

Sun 16th May 2010 17:25

Cynthia, please don't call me Mr Miller. It brings back so many unpleasant courtroom memories.I read on a thread last week a few folks bemoaning the absence of "constructive criticism". I'm trying to give some - whether you like it or not!!
So, would a child go from this: Jeez, Dad,” says the kid. “It’s a homo
In woman’s stuff! Is he crazy!”
to this:
But, Jeez, Dad,” says the boy,

“What if he doesn’t want to play anymore?

What if he doesn’t care who knows?

What if he has to be a woman?”

Myself, I think it unlikely, implausible. But I like the poem, I especially like the poetry of the first verse. It's hoi polloi, by the way.
Best Wishes, Ray

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Gus Jonsson

Sun 16th May 2010 17:15

Superb story telling a very clever
structured play...

wonderful wonderful

Gus xx

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Sun 16th May 2010 15:40

Thank you all for reading such a long posting and still commenting as well. I maintain that children are often far more aware of current issues than adults are. They are all ears and eyes from the telly hours, the adults' 'private' conversations, and the 'schoolyard discussions'. My extended family has three homosexual members, all open now, one previously married with two children. His partner also has a family. Children talk freely and pointedly without shame; adults circumnavigate their conversations for many reasons.

Mr Miller, the opening verse was a deliberate 'poetical' setting of the scene, intoducing with high tone the 'hoi polloi' who make up the opinions of the general world, to contrast with the reality of the individual situation. Later these same 'people' become the reactive 'voice' of the public.

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Sun 16th May 2010 11:53

Yes - I heard this read at the Green Room in Manchester and it certainly gripped the audience. You have a great way with story telling Cynthia and you convey well the frustration and sadness of living with something that isn't easy to explain.
I would agree with Ray that the questions asked by the child, aren't that plausible. You are using the child to express your own views. That doesn't bother me too much though - since I can agree. An interesting read.

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Cate Greenlees

Sun 16th May 2010 11:44

Another intruiging one....a speciality of yours Cynthia. It highlights how hard it must be to be "different" and I think even today in this supposedly progressive society a man would have difficulty admitting to his child that he was a transvestite.
Cate xx

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Ray Miller

Sun 16th May 2010 00:08

I thought the opening verse was pretty good, lots of poetry in it:
Close to the concrete caves that swallow
Sunshine down their shadowy throats.Excellent.I felt that the poetry gradually became eclipsed by the need to tell the story, but it's an interesting tale.
“They’re disgusting at seven A.M. - on the mall.” is where the father is giving the game away, I guess.I think the questions that follow, from boy to father, are rather implausible ones for a boy to be asking and detract just a little from an enjoyable read.

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Anthony Emmerson

Sat 15th May 2010 19:12

Hi Cynthia,

Seems you are playing that "is he, isn't he?" game again with this deftly penned story. My guess is that he is, so don't feel you have to disabuse me of my conclusion! It's good to keep the audience in suspenders so to speak. I really enjoyed the read and the diversion into your creative and fertile imagination.


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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Sat 15th May 2010 17:52

This was written some time ago, but still seems very relevant today.

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