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Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 23, 2019)

I bought an eighty dollar dog bed
trying to get my dog to stay in my office.

She lays in the bed like Elizabeth Taylor
reclining in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

She, too, is a **** and she snores
loudly during my phone meetings.

The small couch bed is tan and svelte.
She is camouflaged while sleeping,

her head resting over the arm,
stretching into a sigh,

gazing across the room indifferently
as if to say, “jobs are for suckers.”
Prompt: write a poem about an animal.
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 22, 2019)

I work for an international organization now.
We literally use the internet to work out the Internet.

We have offices all over the world
and I was messaging new colleagues from India.

I told them I was a poet sometimes
and asked them what they were sometimes.

Atul told me he liked trekking, especially to Indian forts.
Me too, I said, I like to drive to U.S. forts.

I immediately used the internet to look up Indian forts
and saw they are older and more beautiful than ours

with intricate sandstone walls, perched atop sandy hills.
Some were built by kings and some look like castles.

American forts are practical things, architecturally speaking,
out west likely to form a square and made of granite

or stone or, especially where I live,
melted adobe.

Ironically, forts near me are also called Indian forts.
But I didn’t mention this to Atul, for many reasons.

This was just a work diversion,
not a lesson in history, architecture,

or Christopher Columbus.
But, all the same, is it strange

that the long abandoned
become architectural curiosities

just like missions and gardens
and the houses of writers,

all of which I like to visit, too;
except forts embody some gesture

of intimidation or the ghost of a siege?
Unlike Mark Twain’s house

with its ornate fireplace
and whimsical gazebo.

Forts never escape
their assumptions of security.

Embedded in the crumbling walls,
the architecture of fear.
Prompt: write a poem about another form of art: music, painting, etc.
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 21, 2019)

I’m at the copier in an office with cypress trees for walls.
One of them is one fire.

I’m a secretary back in the early days of grunge.
There is a band playing in the hallway of the office building.

At lunch time we go swimming
on the backside of a cinder block wall.

Girls to the left, boys to the right.
The pool is shaped like the letter D.

I have one job: to make double-sided copies
of mortgage applications on legal sized paper.

This is before the days of automatic copy feeders.
This is back in the days of fax machines.

We fax applications back to corporate.
I fax and made copies all day long.

This is also before gel shoes.
Rocks grow out of the soles of my shoes.

There is an art to copying double-sided,
legal sheets of paper.

But no matter how I try,
I cannot get the sheets in the right direction.

Each time I turn them over,
they are upside down.

I can hear my co-workers down the hall
splashing in the pool.

I can see the cypresses, one by one, catching fire.
At the end of the sixty-fifth day,

I tell a joke about a big bug buzzing
up in the light fixture.

For the first time everybody laughs at my joke,
after years of telling jokes.

I decide to become a comedian
and quit the next day.

Five years later I’m back in the same office
with the burnt cypress trees.

But this time I’m not working copies;
I’m working forms in triplicate

on a new Selectric LII typewriter.
The keys are all made of Jell-O.

I like this new job,
but it makes my fingers sticky.

And it’s only a matter of time
before I get sick from eating all the keys.
Prompt: write a poem that “incorporates wild, surreal images. Try to play around with writing that doesn’t make formal sense, but which engages all the senses and involves dream-logic.”
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 20, 2019)

“Everybody who likes to make a Plan B,”
the moderator said, “stand over here.
And everybody who doesn’t like Plan Bs,
stand over there.

There were two groups of us:
half the department on one side;
half the department on another.
Our directors where both on the same side.

So the moderator asked them,
“Why don’t you like to make Plan Bs?”

And the head of marketing said,
“I don’t like to make Plan Bs
because plans never work out.”

I really wish I could add a rimshot to this poem.
Prompt: write  write a poem that “talks,” slangy, based in spoken language.
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 19, 2019)

An asset is what they call web content, but in accounting
books the value is zero, because words are not assets.
CMS stands for content management system,
delivering content through website databases.
Everyone emigrates from system to system,
firing one when it’s presumed not to function,
getting shareholders their gold watches from
hungry startups with execs looking duly harried.
I’ve gone through many integrations and migrations
just like every other jolly content pro who prays to
karma or a Kickstarter for all the madness to stop.
Look at all the wasted hours of labor and you’ll see
much more time spent moving assets from
node to container to module to bock to
orb to cages that only entrap ourselves.
Pity us that we can’t perceive the absurd
quicksand, that we can’t quit the unwinnable,
reverse course and reckon with the real problem.
Storage is for hoarding stooges and
text is not a template. It’s a ceremony,
un-formulable, not useful within storage
vats. Outside of tidiness and vanity,
words are wandering like prophets in search of
X on a map or xylem in the stem. Which is all to say,
you might want to check out my yearling CMS,
Zen-content for the zealously organized bodhisattva.
Prompt: write an abcdearian poem.
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 18, 2019)

Let’s just say we are builders of wagons.
Yeah, cowboys building coffee wagons.
Smart cowboys who had good hubs.

Even though the wagons give us plenty
of problems to be solved,
bonnets to be painted with advertisements,
commercials to be played on screens
out the back. But we were the best

wagon building team there ever was.
We liked each other; we laughed a lot;
we kept trying to improve our processes.
We shared life tips and work tips
and hiking tips and campfire tips.
We were grateful for each other.

Ester would visit me every morning
and we’d talk about our mothers
or she would show me how to paint bonnets.
Well, one surprising day
they escorted her out of a wagon
and sent her down the trail
without so much a howdy do,
after 28 years of painting wagon bonnets.
And they expressed no gratitude for all her bonnets.

And for this, the rest of us felt grief.
Elmwood picked up painting her bonnets
but he never wanted to work on bonnets.
Gwendolyn moved to another work team.
Ernie stopped caring about the wagons.

And then Bruce came to tell us
we weren’t even making wagons anymore
and that we would be making something else.
But we never found out what that other thing was
and our systems were disassembled
and all our projects were halted
and no gratitude was expressed
for all we had done.

And we felt grief for missing the wagons
and missing Ester and missing our sessions
of circling the wagons.

Entropy came and some cowboys began to feel
more than grief, they started to feel grievances instead,
grievances that Bruce and Betty and Barbara
from Corporate never visited and never knew
what making wagons was about.
And after a while we couldn’t tell the difference
between grief and grievances.

But maybe Corporate was right
because nobody is selling ******* coffee
out of wagons these days.
Or trains or trolleys either.
The work is nothing, after all that,
but spinning wagon wheels.
And all the wagons are melting right now
in the hot, dry sun.

Work is the moments and nothing else.
You can be grateful for that.
Grievances will get your out the door.
But your grief will never quit.
Prompt: write a poem about grief with tangible particulars.
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 17, 2019)

I see lots of ******* and armpits
and double chins
as a computer keyboard.
I am literally a tool
but the best kind.
I see the monitors too.
I know all the logins
in a very intimate way.
I’m a tactile person:
I know what you had for lunch.
And I’ve seen all the software apps
come and go, come and go.

All those logins, all their required tasks
just to get up and running.
I never see goals, strategy or time
used well for all the configuring,
for all the upgradings, new releases,
improvements that take so much effort to learn.

All the shiny new tools
with their compelling backgrounds
and addictive interactions,
they all pile up to a heap of work
to do before you get to important things.
And the more tools you have,
the slower you go: time to load,
debug, and forget that they never
completely do what you need them to do.
They never play nice with all the other tools.

They’re all just shovels
digging a hole.
They’re just hammers
putting up imaginary things.
They’re like those old silver, swinging *****;
they help you avoid thinking about hard work.

But not me. I get words out like nobody’s business.
I’m a real genius.
Prompt: write a poem from an unusual POV.
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