Jon Papas

Tuxedo Extreme Unction

“at the mall there was a séance / just kids no parents / then the sky filled with herons” – Kanye

We mash dribbly candles on the hoods of Kia Sportages,
lipstaining ankhs onto pastel mall-maps, throwing
cans of peppermint bark and snow globes at dome lights
to set the mood, to call ghosts among crashing glass and chocolate.

Yards of pretzel dough inscribe the circle. Universal remotes
and pipe wrenches clamping the entrance doors shut. We cut down
the Cajun-Asian sign from the food court and use the plastic saxophone
as spirit trumpet. Five-color Wii hand straps bind us together, the interior

of the circle covered in spilled black cherry Fribble. The manager
of Abercrombie and Fitch lies unmoving in the center, a catalog
covered in sweet pea bath gel stuffed in his mouth. The youngest
kneel in milkshake clapping muffin trays together, showering

the corpse with Build-A-Bear hearts. Us kids know the truth.
No one ever matures. They just taint and harden. Pure and hot
is what’s for dinner. Close up the mall with us inside so all
the parents draw close. We’ll have a sacrifice like you

read about. The skylight ceiling goes dark with wings.
Talons bottlecap across the roof, the younglings covered in milk
speaking heron with human tongues. The devil rides the ring-road
in Oakleys and a lime-green windbreaker. Ragtop. Mall-squatter.

This ends in new world, and a Le Baron crinkling beneath
a typhoon of fryer grease. The manager augured into a spaceship.
The toddlers shepherding the parents with lawnmowers,
golf carts, drinking Julius. The sixth-graders clamp their thighs

to their ankles with vise-grips, the third graders their hands
to the Macy’s jewelry counter. Barcodes sewing lips shut.
Open ourselves up and read out the pattern of truth. Smash their
cheekbones with PlayStation controllers. They will hear the truth:

we step cracks, we break backs.

Jon Papas is a poet living in Boston. His work has appeared in We Are Champion, OCHO, Willow Springs, and PANK.

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