ghosts of the mcmansion – Malik Berry

an elderly woman in her faded American flag
shirt scours the Walmart Superstore for gift
cards to pay off a debt she doesn’t remember
owing but she really does own a Tupperware
set, it lasted five elections.

her husband back home stares in a daze
at the wall-sized 60fps TV with the ESPN
logo and ticker burnt into the bottom of
the screen, his stupor breaks into a brief
burst of rage as his favorite AstroTurf warrior
is driven down onto his head

the athlete’s brain has taken another deteriorating blow
both teams lift his limp figure into the injury cart
while the man at home berates him for not throwing faster.

next door an unemployed young man
prods his tools around inside the hood
of his dad’s Corvette, a cigarette dangles
from his crusty lips, the ash begging to
be knocked off.

the father is out back toying with a
snub-nosed Springfield Armory 35
that he will never fire, his hypnotized
gaze at the weapon keeps him from
noticing he’s picking up the tin of
Mobil 1 instead of his can of Monster Ultra.

a child looks out of his bedroom window
at the infinite expanse of massive one-floor
houses and synthetic grass, dwarfed by the
looming city on the horizon.

his parents always talk about it like a warzone
—a progressive hell on earth riddled with crime—
but he can’t help but wonder if they at least have sidewalks
and kids who won’t throw rocks and paper at him
for walking with a twist before he knows why.