Mary McCray Apr 30
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 30, 2018)

It was my early twenties and she was in our poetry class,
a girl taking the same train as I was
one late night from Manhattan
to the town of our school.
She wrote beautiful poems,
long lines without punctuation;
but mostly she missed class  
because she was an actress
and the rumor was
she was working on a Spike Lee movie.

The train car was mostly empty and lit with a bad yellow light.
Train people would read or eat
or I remember liking  to look out the windows
into the apartments of Harlem
because I longed to know how other people lived.
Soon enough, the lights would dim with the darkness
of the boroughs and then the suburbs.

She was sitting up to the left and she recognized me,
smiled and said hello. I was startled a bit
out of my reclusion and we had a small,
friendly conversation about our class
with Tom Lux and what a character he was.
We were like strangers or almost-strangers on a train,
connecting with the warm light of fireflies.
She would go on to star as one of a gang of girls
in a long-running TV series, but I can see her
just as she was that night, a girl traveling
into a future so amazingly ahead of her.

We turned back to our own private rides
and the cars returned to the quiet,
except for the shuffling sounds of all the tracks
we crossed. I sat in the melancholy yellow light
and caught a reflection of my own face
in the mirror of an evening window—
I, too, a ******* a train.
These poems for NaPoWriMo were inspired by a poem I did years ago for my friend Michele after hearing she passed away, 30 poems for inspiring women connected to me. The title now says "33 Women" because the poem to Michele poem had already been written as well as two prologues I posted March 31.
Mary McCray Apr 29
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 29, 2018)

What you didn’t know was a lot.
They were essentially pixelated
and mostly human offstage.

What you saw were fictions
of the staged and costumed,
all the misleading mise en scene.

But there were clues,
the power of a photograph
and a deadpan stare.

The New Englander in slacks
no matter how goodly-wife she tried to be,
Hepburn always came out.

And the shaky-voiced cattail of Mary Richards
who once haunted my ideas of Marys.
But I came to accept her capable

punctualities and small courage.
So different from the vamp trails
of Cher and her roster of femme fatales

who never once succumbed
to a story. Or Bette Davis on a staircase
a tank of eye-rolling.

They were no sleuthing Nancy Drews,
none of them, no high-voiced cream puffs,
their sighs were full of gravel,

their silhouettes a poignant defiance
of No, I don’t think sos.
and So what if I dos.

They were living shedoneits,
the new swashbucklers,
arch, caped rapscallions

who could part the Red Sea
in a dress, sequins flaring
bullets at the lenses.

Years later, Ru Paul explicates this
on a show he calls Drag U,
how dress-up can make you feel brave,

how you could fight fires and dragons
with a dose of ***** and, in a pickle,
Walter Mitty-it and presume.
These poems for NaPoWriMo were inspired by a poem I did years ago for my friend Michele after hearing she passed away, 30 poems for inspiring women connected to me. The title now says "33 Women" because the poem to Michele poem had already been written as well as two prologues I posted March 31.
Mary McCray Apr 28
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 28, 2018)

What they have to teach us,
I do not know. Something
about spoiled milk
or how bees become bullies,
the frayed benefits
of reservation.
Backed into corners,
most often by themselves,
they portray sinister
with moll faces, half-shadowed
in office hallways.
But they are no caricatures
of femme fatales;
they are their own systems
of blood and belief
and all the synonyms
of vindictive.
There was the prim boss
in the office downtown
overlooking the library.
She told me men
aren’t worth crying over.
They are like trains:
another one comes along
every fifteen minutes.
I was good cop to her bad cop
until she turned on me.
Then there was
the aristocrat of orchards
dismissing the riff-raff
with her friendly fire.
And the Shakespearean villain
of Amish country.
That was my first time in the tank
with a real shark. And then
the one who literally
put curses on people,
a real nails-in-the-parking-lot girl.
I think about her
every time I feel
bad mojo.
And does it all go back to the girl
who lived behind us
on Claudine.
Our fight in the street:
I was punching and she was slapping.
She called me Indian Giver
after she grifted all my toys.
They’re full of slurs, these broads,
and you feel it the first moment
they try and push you over,
the haze of smoke
floating over their kettles.
They **** out the trust.
Maybe they’re born with it;
maybe it’s in the makeup
or that their tantrums are like seizures
they can never come out of.
These poems for NaPoWriMo were inspired by a poem I did years ago for my friend Michele after hearing she passed away, 30 poems for inspiring women connected to me. The title now says "33 Women" because the poem to Michele poem had already been written as well as two prologues I posted March 31.
Mary McCray Apr 27
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 27, 2018)

I would call what we do a trek
but it’s not really a trek

or an odyssey or adventure;
although it’s surely a hike,

sometimes a trudge or a slog—
moving the emotional self up a hill

with books and plans and gurus
indulging as we do, gleefully,

in the spa of self-explication
mapping patterns of the head

and heart through phone lines
and meetups, knowingly

like Sisyphus with his boulder
of hubris and comforting purpose,

he’s a proto-plucky yank, willful
but never crafty enough

to outsmart his own charming,
deceitful, underworldly self.
These poems for NaPoWriMo were inspired by a poem I did years ago for my friend Michelle after hearing she passed away, 30 poems for inspiring women connected to me. The title now says "33 Women" because the poem to Michelle poem had already been written as well as two prologues I posted March 31.
Mary McCray Apr 26
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 26, 2018)

I see you as an archaeologist of the arts,
at the crux of things and looking for the heart,

a safarist with a holster of nets
versed in cryptology and novelettes,

searching for the beautiful mind
in the overlooked and wunderkind.

We hear your thoughts in conference calls,
on motor tours, in lecture halls;

and I’m always curious what you think
of curios and pieces on the brink.

You are as interesting as antiquities,
a modern woman with sensibilities.
These poems for NaPoWriMo were inspired by a poem I did years ago for my friend Michelle after hearing she passed away, 30 poems for inspiring women connected to me. The title now says "33 Women" because the poem to Michelle poem had already been written as well as two prologues I posted March 31.
Mary McCray Apr 25
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 25, 2018)

Like a treasure found in a wayside book
or a cheeky verse of serendipity,
this one I came near close to missing
before we all dispersed into the winds
like dandelions spreading our poems.

It was the fluke of a suggestion at the end of a class,
apropos of nothing we were doing there,
a crash course in the attic of something more useful.

Decades later, we’re parsing
and consuming snaps of the cerebral,
emotional practicalities over pizza in Scarsdale.

We gush over words and their wordsmiths
like two docents explicating from room to room
at a Williamsburg of Writers that exists only in our heads,

but should exist, we know, on some New England gristmill
with a rock wall and people reading Frost on each side of it,
Mark Twain under the gazebo and Hemingway
typing and howling at Fitzgerald upstairs.

We could pull it off, we could,
like two verbose entrepreneurs
with the giddiness of girlfriends
who write their own epitaphs in lipstick.
These poems for NaPoWriMo were inspired by a poem I did years ago for my friend Michelle after hearing she passed away, 30 poems for inspiring women connected to me. The title now says "33 Women" because the poem to Michelle poem had already been written as well as two prologues I posted March 31.

See Ann here! http://www.marymccray.com/33-women.html#ann
Mary McCray Apr 24
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 24, 2018)

My first day at Sarah Lawrence when a mutual friend
introduced us as being from the same Midwestern city
and we discovered we were, but from different parts,
then laughing at a workshop comment that we should know
"something about cows" and this leading to all the things I did
that I never would have thought to do—on my own:
surfing the Internet that first day in the computer lab
of Sarah Lawrence, climbing a ladder in a Manhattan bookstore
to grab that book on HTML, getting from Yonkers to SoHo
in a car without paying a toll, a plethora of my moves,
and a plethora of your moves from Hastings on Hudson
to The Jefferson to Australia to Mar Vista to that Tarzan set
of the old MGM lot, the TVless Sarah Lawrence way
and pop-loving writers on the downlow throwing
theme parties for Jack and Cher, finding useful threads
in the banality of Sunset *****, a real hullabaloo
in our living room with the kitschy **** carpet
of the 70s we loved, the Edgar Winter Dog on the beach,
the Edgar Winter Dog dining alfresco,
setting up a tent, setting up a website,
setting up a yard party around the treehouse,  
crying in green cocktails over the cheating Irish,
lecturing in a Buena Park pool with illicit bottles
of glass hearts, lessons in online profiles, all the concerts,
(the Tom Jones ones being my favorite),
and the courage to say something different about me,
the edible, the artifacts, the scenes and stories,
the traveled-for songs, the experience into the new,
even if it’s really old, the trip through
a friendship and the courage to take it
when you have a sister to share it with.
These poems for NaPoWriMo were inspired by a poem I did years ago for my friend Michelle after hearing she passed away, 30 poems for inspiring women connected to me. The title now says "33 Women" because the poem to Michelle poem had already been written as well as two prologues I posted March 31.

See Julie here! http://www.marymccray.com/33-women.html#julie
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