People Dropping Dead in the Mall Parking Lot


Alan Ray Simmons

People Dropping Dead in the Mall Parking Lot


        I pass three dead bodies in the mall parking lot, people dropping dead from extreme heat. Seniors are the first to go. Flies don’t drop like old folks do. Damn flies swat old people down when it gets this hot. Flies feast and thrive in this regulation-free, friendly business environment. You see their I-Fly Storage Bins popping up like gas stations to store all the meat, cold as tombstones, blending into the landscape by resembling abandoned cars. Over-weight people are next.
Short people do better because they require less food and water. They call themselves “Darwin babies.” Go small. Heat doesn’t bother them as much. Burners dance while the pink-bone types waste away underground for fear they’d drop dead in the sun or drag a brown spot back down with them, and do a slow-rot dance subsisting on microwave popcorn by the TV.
        An opportunity-economy for street cleaners and deep-earth drillers. No fear of flooding for the next ten thousand years, unless it rains. Go underground.
Day-glow skin takes fashion back to the streets. The mall of flames. The fall of deniers. Fire-dancers of light. Spontaneous combustion people. A burning-earth demonstration drags birds from the sky every day around noon, only at Sunshine Chicken.
        A few old-world survivors can be found nesting beneath fog-patched microclimates found scattered along northern coastal strips. Flash floods lead to short-term palisades worth defending when it did rain. Worldwide drought and the Great Desalination Project. Too bad it failed. The war got crazy when food ran out. We call it destiny’s holy famine, paradise and spa, featuring the band, I could fry an egg on your head if you had one. Long name for a band, but I like their music. Holopunk, with a suicide Brahms hot brass section.


Alan Ray Simmons lives in Alameda, California. He has been quoted on the front page of The New York Times.  Poet-In-Residence, City of Chicago, 1979-80. His work has recently appeared in Genre: Urban Arts, Thin Air, Red Coyote, 42 Stories Anthology, Heron Clan VII, Kanstellation, Illumen, and San Fedele Press. See more at

Backstory: This was an easy poem to write. I’ve been living a block down the street from the mall for the past 20 years, among some of the most ungodly creatures you can imagine, watching it smolder and burn.

Image credit: Store-people (, black crosses to represent the three dead, and with abstract background for searing heat

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