#8 – Shopping Plaza by Liam Day

Illustration by Randolph Pfaff


Across its parking lot’s wastes – scorched earth
summer, bare tundra most of the rest of the year –
bitter winds carry scraps, boxes and bubble wrap
on everything from Fritos to Frigidaires.

The detritus hops, twirls and flutters like
dry, brittle leaves driven by November gusts
that scour the pavement, black top of landfill
on which, like so much of the city, this no man’s land rests.

It’s expected we consume – Target, Home Depot,
Best Buy, Famous Footwear – but the skeletons
of carcasses picked clean loom, silhouettes
in early evening’s red sky: the tapered smokestack

that coughed up its last soot-stained breath
a generation ago, Boston Ice Company depot
abutting the abandoned warehouse that collapsed
in the heat of a nine-alarm blaze, rubble spilling

over the sidewalk, singed brick, intricate patterns
flames carved in the fallen roof’s charred crossbeams.
What happens if we stop buying? Stores are
hardly made of sterner stuff than factories.

Kids, maybe, lit fire-crackers, exposed insulation.
Let it burn. Fire is good for forest, clears out
the underbrush. Women in their familiar red uniforms,
they’ll catch a new bus to minimum-wage.


Liam Day was born and raised in Boston. After graduating from college, he spent a year playing professional basketball in Northern Ireland. Upon returning to the States, he began teaching and pursuing a master’s degree from the Bread Loaf School of English, from which he graduated in 2004. His poems have appeared in New Beginnings and online at Slow Trains and apt. In 2006, he was a finalist in the Black River Chapbook Competition. Liam currently lives in Boston with his wife. He is the Director of the Boston Area Health Education Center.

Read more MBTA Bus Poems by Liam Day