Hanging out at the Mall again. We’ve got a soda from the food court and are loitering on a bench in the main concourse. We’re just watching people. What do you notice? Who do you encounter while there? Make some mental notes and put them to good use.

Write a poetic character sketch of the person that most catches your eye.


  1. MUSIC TO WATCH GIRLS BY, by Walter J Wojtanik

    Thankfully, they’re cranking the A/C,
    thanking the powers that be that we
    can venture out and hit the mall.
    All-in-all I didn’t miss it that much,
    never really a mall rat but as such,
    it was a chance to escape
    the four walls that confined me.
    You would find me isolated,
    quarantined sight unseen,
    or not find me at all.
    The sport of choice in this “norm”
    comes in the form of watching
    the folk traversing this retail universe.
    Mom and child, masked and careful,
    stroll the corridor on the floor above me.
    I would love me an Orange Julius
    if the kiosk were open. I’m hoping
    to get up and move a bit, take the shopper’s hit
    and let the moths out of my wallet.
    They call it frugal, but to me it’s smart.
    There goes the Senior Strollers for their
    fifth lap of the floor; maybe sixth, maybe more.
    And me, sitting outside of Victoria’s
    knowing her secret, but not telling,
    young ladies buying what they’re selling,
    and my common sense rebelling for sitting
    for as long as I have. A trip to the mall
    seemed to be the salve for my sedentary
    existence. I will throw up resistance the next time,
    but this time was certainly fine.

  2. .
    Thoughts From the Mall Bench

    I hope he’s heading to the
    men’s section for a shirt that fits.

    Ahh, now there’s a happy couple.
    Oh, looking for a ring, I see.
    Remember your budget and I
    hope you have a prenep. Haha

    Oh, no. Did your parents let you
    out of the house dressed like that?!?

    I can’t believe how many old people
    are walking the malls nowadays. Huh?
    Didn’t I graduate with that man?!?

    Don’t even think about it!!
    This is my bench! And what
    about social distancing?!?

    My butt hurts.
    I wonder where she went.
    Guess I’d better shift into
    search and rescue mode.


    The old mall standing out in the field
    is all covered in dust so congealed
    that the signs on the stores
    seem to weep with remorse
    now that foot traffic has been repealed.

    • Oh William (Bill) I am SO glad to see you here! Miss you on WD but this seems such a generous venue. Looking forward to reading more of your superb work!

    • There you are, William. I want to congratulate you on being in the top six for the November challenge.

      I still haven’t figured out how to use Disqus on there yet. It finally confirmed my email after a bazillion tries. But does anyone know how to comment on Poetic Asides using Disqus?

      • For what it might (or not) be worth, Disqus is the reason I decided to stop posting on the Poetic Asides site. They make their money by selling user information, as near as I can tell. They have an opt-put option, but it seems to require not purging browser caches, which I do routinely.

      • If still interested, you have to scroll all the way to the bottom (through all the other options/pics) to the the open rectangle. Then click on it and it should populate with comments/work to date and provide a space to “join in discussion”. You post there.
        Hope this helps.

  4. Meeting Up

    The pair walk the aisles
    following the red and green
    one-way labels on the tiles
    noticeably empty handed
    as if getting in their steps
    for the day or week

    the man still tall unbent
    board of shoulder solid
    while she a slip of a woman
    is letting her fashionable
    cut slowly advance to a shad
    paler than her girlhood red

    almost jaunty the step in unison
    undeterred by the jostling
    throngs intent on a purchase
    pots pans the bonus bag
    of dog food from the pet store
    the twenty pack of Scott’s 1000

    she says how she finds it
    hard to get comfortable
    in her mask most days
    both of them in hospital blue
    while I sport calico from the
    scrap bag and she wonders

    where I bought it until I tell
    her it came out from underfoot
    the Singer and she laughs
    with liquid beauty that
    must’ve helped catch him
    when he told his first joke.

  5. Between the Lines

    He creates a special brew
    as others on stage read poems aloud
    at the quiet end of the mall
    on a Saturday night.
    Tips clink in a jar
    while a poet cries out
    for salvation.
    A woman, child at her side
    calls out for understanding
    while patrons snap fingers
    for verses read
    and a passerby stops and watches.
    A song shared, a confession
    fill the room, calling
    for love and understanding
    while he nods and others pass.
    The young men and women he serves
    become friends when they read between the lines.

  6. WOOPS

    She’s very attractive, the young African-
    American woman staffing the kiosk
    called WOOPS, an establishment
    specializing in macarons, pastel treats
    in subtle flavors, especially enticing
    to granddaughters who deliberate over
    colors and flavors hoping to find
    exactly the right combination.
    Not an everyday treat, but an
    indulgence, each two-bite cookie
    $2.50 plus tax, the sort of treat
    a Nana might want to provide.

    The seller stands patiently,
    a pretty black woman hired to
    serve. While she waits, does she
    think of her own daughters,
    perhaps the same age? Does she ever
    bring them here, enduring the ninety-
    minute bus ride for a chance at a treat,
    a chance to see where Momma works?
    Or thinking of them, does she stop to buy
    Oreos at the corner store near the bus
    stop, their deep chocolate goodness
    an everyday indulgence for now.

  7. Fashion Princess

    There she goes.
    Strutting her stuff.
    Three shopping bags in each hand.
    Red curly hair.
    Pink wide brimmed hat.
    Pink jacket, pink skirt, white top.
    Sunglasses. Sandals.
    She’s about eight.
    Her mom’s got her started early.

  8. People Watching at the Mall


    I pick a seat near the concourse
    to rest my weary feet
    and watch the world go by.

    Mom drags a cranky little person
    by the hand as she urges him onward
    in her quest for more stuff.

    The aroma of donuts, tacos,
    and coffee drifts through the air.
    My stomach rumbles.

    A stilettoed long-legged beauty
    glides by, cheeks peeking from beneath
    too-short shorts.

    Weaving between shoppers,
    a mall walker glances at his fit-bit
    to check his steps for the day.
    Barely misses a slow-moving couple—
    he on a walker, she, steadying his faulting steps.

    A cluster of pre-teen girls
    giggle and playfully shove one another
    as they pause to peer into a display window,
    enjoying the freedom to shop with their peers.

    I yield to Starbucks temptation.
    Buy a large hot chai latte and head for home,
    to enjoy my easy chair in quiet, air-conditioned comfort.

  9. That Frantic Feeling

    Panic in pooled
    brown eyes, little
    red-headed girl
    holds her legs
    together, hands
    clutch the crotch
    of her dress. Mom
    drags her over
    to the Women’s
    Room, commanding,
    “hold it, hold it,
    we’re almost there.”

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