Apr 2017 · 313
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 30, 2017)

The struggle never ends.
Not for you. Not for me.
The victories come and go,
beliefs and claims in a riot
of madness and certainty.
The hawk is never vanquished,
the dove is never pacified.
The tale is never told.
The extremities burn their own
in tantrums and strategy.
The soul will sell for a dollar
to the paparazzi and the scholar,
the orphans and the squalor,
a crowd of props and pawns
in protests and parades.
Napowrimo 2017: Write about something that happens again and again.
Apr 2017 · 375
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 29, 2017)

It was named after the ship’s Admiral,
Louis Antoine de Bougainville,
and it usually crawls along the porch frames
or borderlines the windows of bedrooms,
transforming dingy frame bungalows
like a mistletoe of summer.
Angelenos pronounce it almost Spanish-like
without the lovely trill of Ls.
And this morning we look up
where it came from
and hear this story
about the first European
who found it on exploration in 1769,  
2oo hundred years before Woodstock.
A botanist, who was also a woman,
snuck aboard a ship disguised as a man,
flowing through the drab spaces and corridors
where women weren’t allowed.
The galley, the botany, the discovery.
Jeanne Barē, the first woman
at the circumstance
of bougainvillea,
the first one
to circumnavigate,
to circumvent
the world.
Napowrimo 2017: This is the penultimate poem! I’m exhausted! Pick a noun from one of your favorite poems (I picked “Seranade” by Billy Collins) and write a poem around it.
Apr 2017 · 329
Modern Manners
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 28, 2017)

Upholding etiquette,
terms to fretiquette
like laws of grammar
that make us stammer
and what’s the matter,
obstinate manners?
Disturbing the rude,
curtailing the crude
chronic disruptor.
A social rupture.
What’s good for the goose,
to hell with the truce.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a Skeltonic.
Apr 2017 · 357
Ode to Salsa
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 27, 2017)

I’ve done this ode many times before.
I was weaned on this ode
where appetite is for the appetizer
and salsa is the blood and guts
that feeds the baby. The spherical planet
of the tomato, reflecting sun on its skin,
cuts and bleeds a thick calming juice.
Smell is the trigger and the buds begin
to register the cool, salt taste
before a single drop rides the tongue.
The idiom of heat—a sliced green chile
or dark jalapeňo, the shape of dripping light,
the second planet of onion, severe and raw
like a crux, joins its sister pieces of earthy garlic.
The chopped pico de gallo is bright and primary—
through fusion, a picante smooth and criminal,
blood red with white seeds which will burn.
A small vessel of penance and grace.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a poem poem that explores your sense of taste.
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 26, 2017)

In a square tomb attached to a 21st century dwelling, archaeologists have uncovered a massive trove of artifacts related to what they believe is an ancient deity called Chēr:

1. Something called a “Cher Makeup Head” which researchers believe is actually an altar piece for greasepaint and grooming ceremonies.

2. Over 75 circular shaped and mostly, but not all, black colored vinyl plates which were most likely used for holy feasts.

3. Eight 12-inch hard-plastic statuettes of the deity complete with various diminutive and sequined polyester costumes allegedly used at one time for ceremonial recreations of sacred and historical events.

4. One male statuette of a man with a mustache. Scientists are not sure the role of this statuette but believe he might have represented either the deity's male concubine, nemesis or svengali.

5. Various plastic cases with shiny discs inside. According to materials included in tiny booklets inside the plastic cases, these discs were used in some storytelling apparatus that projects sound and images onto a kind of archaic screen. These stories are believed to be mythologies related to this particular deity.

6. A miniature temple made of orange and blue plastic. The temple has various pieces that are very difficult to assemble but once constructed form a structure with revolving stages and rooms. Archaeologists believe this temple was used in conjunction with the small hard plastic statuettes in ceremonial recreations.

7. One shelf of bound manuscripts labeled “biography.” Researchers believe these books were bibles, possibly from contrasting religious sects, containing all mythologies and theories related to the deity creation story.

8. Various ceremonial pieces of clothing, mostly highly causal wear, usually white in color with some image of the deity on the front and a list of dates on the back. We believe these dates represent either major weather events or memorable war battles that took place during the deity’s lifetime.

9. Large scale representations of the deity, rolled up and stored in cardboard tubings.

10. Small boxes of perfumes, lotions and shampoos believed to be healing ointments, salves and meditative balms created by the deity or her representatives.

Thousands of other relics from other deities have been found in similar houses around the world since excavations of the 21st century have begun. There seems to have been no consensus in the 21st century around one or two deities. There are literally hundreds of them in storage facilities and tombs, and in some cases, domestic interpretive museums.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a poem about what a future archaeologist would make of our culture (or rather, my garage).
Apr 2017 · 341
Poem Spaces
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 25, 2017)

There are many small spaces
where poems come from
like a vortex in the room
or the far deep of the brain.
Early in New Mexico
was all about fermenting
with disasters of toys and monsters
living in the wall. Music fed
the core from a stereo console.
St. Louis was the smart house,
flower papered walls for things
Jessica Lange said in Tootsie.
This is where the poems came
if I sat under the window,
warming on the heat vent
between the foot board
and the bookcase my father built.
The dorms of Kirksville were vacant
and Maryland Heights was about collecting things
not words. Massachusetts, off the Great Road,
near the colonial stone fences and the old world woods,
was transitional, with suitcases
stuffed under the bed.
Yonkers was the second vortex
in the basement corner.
I wrote my way into morning while Helga
growled at the ghosts in the closet.
The nightstand light turned on by itself
while I slept and beautiful Mars things
were imagined. The river place
was a reading place, always flooding.
We invented our Internet spaces there.
In Pennsylvania, I wrote above the garage,
reading to stave off the sink hole
of misplacing myself. The first zine.
Playa del Rey was during a rainy season,
but the early morning sun on the balcony
was a small, shining vortex in a glass of water.
My only writing in the melancholy outside.
California was a renaissance,
poems abandoned on the carpets.
Mar Vista had a converted garage
down a shallow step into a plush shag.
This is where we planned books and courting ads.
The second Zine. The genesis of cowboys and zen.
Helga died here. John came here.
Venice was all about making pots
and domesticating on threads of ideas.
Redondo was dubbed Mayberry
with its shade and birds.
I couldn’t write in its beautiful spaces
so I planted budding bushes.
Back in Santa Fe, we made a makeshift office
out of the makeshift dining room.
The ceiling had hundreds of trees.
The third Zine. The first book.
Down in Albuquerque, there are cowboys
on the couch. The same twister of books,
poems and pop songs. Every piece
of every piece feeding into its space.
Every poem belonging to its home.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a poem exploring a small defined space.
Apr 2017 · 318
Snickering Marginalia
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 24, 2017)

Elaborately drawn under the calligraphy towers,
above the tendrilling border lines and flowers,

there’s an idea of meditations and devotions
lost at the border of scribblings and notions.

Monks are making statements in monasteries:
a cabal of ladies holding baskets full of Henrys,

disembodied Henrys, Henrys growing on trees,
the harvesting of Henrys, this name a phallic trustee,

the work-safe word I came up with, befittingly generic,
suitably affable and applicable to the alabaster eunuch.

Search Google images for Medieval manuscript marginalia.
You’ll find a plethora of genitalia.
Napowrimo 2017: Write an ekphrasis poem based on the marginalia of medieval manuscripts. (A link to google images was provided.)
Apr 2017 · 243
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 23, 2017)

Chaotic stacks
Crux of house
Where the dope lives

Open grass
Paper blowing away
Along odysseys of grass
Napowrimo 2017: Write a double elevenie.
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 22, 2017)

There’s a pickle recipe that’s been in our family
for many years, many times a blue ribbon
winner at the New Mexico State Fair.

It came from my Great Aunt, Missouri Avaletta,
and her daughter, who is over 85 years old now,
jars one-hundred pickles year after year.

We are not farmers. The dust bowl taught us that.
This is a waterless state. But apparently cucumbers
grow in any kind of earth. They have shallow roots.

So after the last frost, you can sow them
in average, well-drained soil.
Give them plenty of sun.

Plant four to six seeds three inches apart,
one inch deep. Gently firm the dirt over them.
Keep them moist. Don’t talk to the pickles

about how you see the world. Don’t give them
your opinions about the president.
Talk to them with metaphors.

And don’t forget the dill. Let it be the weed that it is.
Gather the harvest when the dill has seeds
and the pickles are three to five inches.

I have a cousin from Alaska
who told me when I was six
that a pickle was a drunk cucumber.

Pickles in the garden
they don’t all grow the same
although they grew from the same place.

Honor to this family of pickles.
Honor to the bitter. Honor to the sweet.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a georgic.
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 21, 2017)

Like engaging with my superpower
I am waiting to overhear.

I am the seed spot in this office
where I can overhear it all.

And there it comes
from behind a closed door.

“I would gladly do that,”

said in such a way to be completely without
pleasure or bloom, even maybe

with a tint of bitter apple
and a prediction of hopelessness.

And then the conversation turns
and somebody laughs

and then everybody laughs
and then the door opens

and promises are made at the threshold
with a keen shine of gladness that is full of deceit.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a poem incorporating something overheard.
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 20, 2017)

My headquarters are full of tennis balls, basketballs and boxing gloves, figuratively speaking. Literally there are only golf balls
in the bureaus of CEOs. Maybe a horse.

Field offices are loathe to make apologies or analogies
while they’re swinging for the fences. But I had a boss once

who was known for his sucker punch.
I took it on the chin until I threw in the towel.
It was par for the course but he was sidelined for it,

ultimately thrown out of the game. His biggest insult
was asking me if I knew what a football looked like.

At the worst of it, I had a famous football player
in my corner. He literally ran interference during play.
I was dancing in the end zone.

But the sticky wicket was my choice to be an office caddy
in the first place instead of a canto girl.

Where did I drop the ball, not keep my eye on the ball?
Was I lightweight at the turnover?

Grandstand hollers are definitely in my wheelhouse,
my proverbial slam dunk. I can throw my hat in the ring,
square off and go the distance.

I’ve had my years of first down bad plays.
I’ve learned some lessons of the game.

There is no such seventh inning, there is no homestretch.
Everything is under the wire but the wire itself.

You are the only ringer to the winner and the loser.

I keep throwing myself out there like a Hail Mary
which is why I’m evermore a ball in their court.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a poem incorporating the jargon of a game.
Apr 2017 · 251
A Creation Story
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 19, 2017)

In the beginning of everything a door opened into the Universe.
This was the moment when the Supreme Guy discovered the World.
He sat down on a white throne and made proclamations and prophecies
but there was nobody there to hear them.

So he started to create a plethora of beings—germs, bugs, ants and
who would be able to listen to him making his gossipy prophecies.
All these new beings crawled up from the underworld,
through a deep sinkhole, emerging into a big white bowl.

Gleaming from birth, they could see their creator.
Floating with joy, they sailed on the seas
and felt the rush of wind from creation’s vents.
Some days there would be a deluge of suffering

and the people learned to ascribe this to the Supreme Guy
who probably had eaten hot lava and fire the day before.
Some days were a peaceful rain. Some days were sun.
Some days the creator would disappear for a long time

and the people would be alone in the Universe
and no one would know what to think or believe.
But the Supreme Guy would always return with new decrees
that would smell of buttermilk and cheese.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a creation myth.
Apr 2017 · 407
The Bathabout
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 18, 2017)

My tongue is an open field,
A tarryhouse, a dwadlefund.
My brain is a dog house,
A slothfred, an erratictician.
My heart is an inflatable inner tube on the lake,
A treadologist, a swimsucker, an aquadiator.
My feet are divining the amblesphere,
a gist, bearably a drift.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a poem incorporating neologisms, made up words.
Apr 2017 · 255
Midnight in Winslow
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 17, 2017)

The trains come every few hours
bringing layers of night in compartments

of sleepers, processions of dark
to convalesce the whispering

cottonwoods. The station windows
are dark. A rare hotel window

glows yellow from a lamp.
Someone is reading

about Mary Colter.
Her stone property wall

like a bulwark against our passage.
The overnight swooshes of the convoy

fade out into the flat horizon
while stamped sheets of tin nichos

unbent themselves in quiet pops
downstairs, old Harvey keys

snug in drawers. Is this the night
almost one hundred years ago?

Or will we all wake up with the trains,
shuttling into tomorrow?
Napowrimo 2017: Write a nocturne. This is for La Posada, the restored Harvey House in Winslow, Arizona.
Apr 2017 · 521
Dear Adult Face
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 16, 2017)

Dear Adult Face,

This letter is to inform you that your employment is no longer needed. I am planning to make some structural changes area-wide and our affiliation will be terminated. During your tenure with me your performance metrics were clearly stated, as were the implications for deficient outcomes. Despite three prior notarized memos you have failed to address lagging issues and for quite some time you have failed to live up to my expectations. And as I feel I must put my best face forward, I will be refilling this position.

Yours in success,
Self-Improvement Initiatives

Dear “Brain,”

I would just like to calmly say to you—in response to your very unsurprising termination letter—you expect too much. Being your face wasn’t ever easy. In fact, you don’t know the crap I’ve had to put up with, every single day, representing you. Never a kind word from the boss. Never a massaging flattery. This face you’re looking at, Buddy—I am part of history. I’m the real deal. So pardon me for living—but you can’t just get rid of a face so easily. I’m not a piece of meat you can toss out with the trash. I’m a survivor. I’m more you than you are, you cavalier bag of bones. This isn’t the end of it. I’ll be seeing you again again someday before we leave this earth. If you’re lucky. You toxic jerk.

Wishing you a punch in the new face,
Original Face
Napowrimo 2017: Write a poem in the form of a correspondence.
Apr 2017 · 275
In the Fields of America
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 15, 2017)

Like a game of cutthroats
where it’s safe to not win and safe to not lose,
the pillow room of politics, peaceful and nonpartisan,
the middle is not invisible but the only slightly visible,
the waving stalks and straw of the masses, ghostly,
a place where you can pass, where everyone is passing
in order to stay in play.

Like the strong arc of a story
where the middle meanders but the end feels inevitable,
honorable, like a journey among knights, like the harvest,
the long farm days of history, respite before the climax:
the dogs are asleep, children in the fields of alfalfa
and then the trees rustle at the windbreak and you worry
maybe you’re not in the middle anymore.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a poem about the idea of being in the middle. This is the halfway point of the NaPoWriMo challenge at napowrimo.net.
Apr 2017 · 324
A Clerihew
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 14, 2017)

Pablo Picasso—
Everyone would follow.
But no one else made millions,
Not even the Brazilians.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a clerihew.
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 13, 2017)

Dubious uterus and fallopian slide, the schoolyard for the ovaries
and where the air is full of talk of bees and ovaries.

Where one begins and the other one bends,
this marks the difference between knees and ovaries.

Punctuation is the point of this methodical formula,
plus a plethora of particulars like groceries and ovaries.

Good times go by as years and ages and epochs
and we research our prospects on heart disease and ovaries.

The origin of art, the origin of life, we study and define
the emblems of potency and all the ironies of ovaries.

All the bloody periods is the point of this procedure,
is why we exalt the expertise of the ovaries.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a ghazal.
Apr 2017 · 300
Book Bound
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 12, 2017)

Beyond the bounds of the book
lie intangible plots if you’re feeling
frustration with the form: so open, flip
and close. So controlled. So safe.

Flippancy is really explorer’s envy
with all their maps and metal detectors
and technology of the times threatening
our melancholy universe which spins
to the new, dangerous tale, the world wide
web, the wonderful skim, step and sinking in,
piercing and wholly unclosable.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a poem with lots of alliteration and assonance. This is dedicated to electronic literature.
Apr 2017 · 375
No Money, No Metaphors
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 11, 2017)

It’s a world of too many institutions,
flybynights, everything for a squeeze,
students giving everything to the landlord,
a book, a visit to the doctor—
not everyone will survive it,
your hometown, your alma mater.

We live in interesting times.

The money movers, the bonds,
martyr retirees, the thrifty—
no money, no metaphors,
no synecdoches building up the edifice,
no icons, no engineering,  
no puzzlers or paradox,
just the conundrum of greedy ignorance
claiming an ever higher rent.

We live in interesting times.

Outside, the big mountain lays down his tail
beyond the cottonwood tree, hand to hand
we work this place, unassuming servants
under the sun. What does a simile cost?
A bridge, a salvage, a clarity?
What does deliverance cost?

We live in interesting times.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a Bop poem. The refrain is a quote this morning from our college president updating us about our situation, consider the fact that our Governor, Susana Martinez, cut out all the state budget for higher education in New Mexico with a line item veto last Friday.
Apr 2017 · 325
The Fairy Godmother’s Son
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 10, 2017)

I don’t know what the perks of the prince are
besides the castle and monetary wealth implied.
I’ve never seen them articulated in copious accounts
of literature. I guess the point is clear enough.
Marry the prince or look into other genealogies.
For instance the Godmother’s son who literally
cooks off the book, has been raised by women,
pings only girls on Match who like Lucinda,
is a steadfast shapeshifter, a soul catcher,
a charmer who tests high in Context
but performs well in Woo, a magic woo
that can hypnotize the sisters of Cinderella
during family games of Scattergories, leaves
lids off of perishable items, wears a map
of Ireland on his ass like a logo of his ancestry.
Probably does more than half…blue,
blue eyes, undeterred by your madness.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a portrait poem.
Apr 2017 · 484
Magic 9 Form
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 9, 2017)

Hocus pocus—artifice alchemy brew.
Seek the dictionaries of abracadabra
To find a liquid mercury clue.
Alla peanut butter sandwiches
Will turn your poem blue
While Walla Walla Washington
Will douse the verses through.
Best recipe for a glimmering hoopla:
Napowrimo 2017: Write 9 line poem. I chose the Magic 9, a new form presumed to have been influenced by the word abracadabra. Rhyme scheme: abacadaba. I was also influenced by the song “Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo” from Cinderella which I couldn’t stop singing in an airport once in Kansas City.
Apr 2017 · 595
The Tempest
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 8, 2017)

What starts as a thrilling dust devil
fun fun funnel
bluster that runs into bloody

the Victorian sofa broken in the yard
twist twist twisted
splinters the size of swords

the chairs and sink and dresser drawers
squall squall scar
shredded rubber and steel

the heap of indistinguishable trash
sucking sucking spun out
man on his knees in the mud

the lifeless foot of anything precious
returning your wreck to you
turn turn turned.
Napowrimo 2017: Write incantation repetition poem. For a few weeks I've been intrigued by a New Yorker poem by Alice Oswald called "Evening Poem." I didn't fully understand it, but I kept seeing a tornado in it.
Apr 2017 · 404
The Thing About Luck
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 7, 2017)

I always tell this story to others and to myself when something bad happens, the Taoist parable about the farmer who has only one horse and that horse runs away. The neighbors say, “such bad luck for you” and the farmer says “maybe” and then the horse returns with 10 new horse friends and the neighbors say then, “such good luck” and the farmer says “maybe.” Then the son breaks a leg trying to ride the wild horses and then the son escapes the draft because he has a broken leg. The neighbors never do get it right. The farmer never does decide if his luck is good or bad.

The problem is that life is so big and luck is so small. So when I was nine years old and left my favorite pendant, a mysteriously cloudy colored heart shape, hung on its chain at the corner of our yard’s wooden fence because I was leaving a sign to the universe that I wanted a life full of love adventures, a few days later the necklace vanished; and I knew even then, as I felt acute loss and for decades afterwards, (because my grandparents from Oregon gave me that pendant and I would never, ever see it again), even then I knew it was too early to know if the story was misfortune or good fortune, as some bird carried my heart flying toward some nest hundreds of yards or hundreds of miles away, (maybe even over all the states to Oregon), to a place where God only knows.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a luck poem. I loved today’s examples so much. It was hard to rise to this beautiful challenge.
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 6, 2017)

This is a man who literally counts his dogs.
This is a man who knows geometry and trigonometry,
There exists in Alabama a hedge maze of this man’s brain.
This is someone concerned about time trails and sun dials.
This is someone concerned about IPCC reports and drought.
This is a man who would literally sacrifice his skin.
This is a Shirley Jackson story.
This is a Lemony Snicket story.
This is A Rose for Emily.
This story will one day be a movie, no doubt.
The half-glass proverb was not a metaphor to this man.
There is a man in every town who shouldn’t be made to want to leave it.
Who tells his story?
Napowrimo 2017: Multiple points of view/"Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" poem. Like everyone else this week, I am enraptured with the S-Town Serial podcast. And I’m only through episode #3! This is such a beautiful podcast about resignation and survival and economic despair and the more I compiled this list today, the more I came to draw out all the literary references in the story, I now see a layer of it as a parable for what makes storytelling both holy and necessary for our own survival.
Apr 2017 · 526
The Juniper Besides
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 5, 2017)

The world
     resolves the core –
          the sky revolves
               its atmospheres

from blue to white
     to watermelon
          to night – coyotes

their sleep, dreaming
     of bobcats
               on rabbits –

the sabi of the tree
     is its deceiving
               and asymmetry,

its crisp-rust
     smell of berry,
          leaves freshly

covering the hidden
     folds of hills
          like country

and cedar pollen
     blowing its dust
          over the dirt carpet
               of the plains –

tears of penance,
     choke of beauty,
          filaments of the lungs
               wheezing in the wind.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a Mary Oliver-esque nature poem...this one was fashioned after Oliver’s “At Black River” and “Beside the Waterfall.” New Mexico juniper: #finger-smooch.
Apr 2017 · 262
The Turning of the Ducks
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 4, 2017)

If joy could be expressed in a flying hat,
proliferating name-scape of rainbow,
moving on, taking it on, navigations,
negotiations and somewhere in all that
deciding where love is, the long bow
stroke of strings, unsure anticipation,
a girl meme the man tries to get at,
the elevator hi, snowing outside the window,
food prices, door beads, girlfriend salvations,
a reflection of a sign, the turning of the ducks,
the soft anodyne flip to the condescending f*#ks.
Napowrimo 2017: Write an enigma poem (about somebody or something famous). I made up my own form-thing here, rhyming tercets with a final couplet.
Apr 2017 · 508
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 3, 2017)

This is the elegy for the one I didn’t know.
This is the elegy for my lack of knowing.

All the others said things
and you said things to all the others
who have each said things I remember.

But to me you could not speak.
You could not move your mouth or tongue.
You were like Frankenstein that way,
full-hearted shuffling, full-throated lumber
to the bathroom, to the dinner table.

And sitting with you alone
I was always afraid of what you’d say—
those words that were not words,
could not be words, the wordless long vowel.

You were a powerful existence even then.
Because you were big—you smiled big,
you walked big, you slid heavily
into the hearts of your heirs.
You said things they still smile over.
They tell me these things.

They tell me a pack of horses ran with you
along the fences, along the stark plains,
running along the headlights and the hearse,
running over the packed caliche dirt
toward the graveyard out on the mesa
where the meadowlarks sing like a wild tribute.
Because you were a beacon to the larks
and the horses always loved you.
This is what they said.

You could not speak anymore.
And you and I cannot speak anymore.
It is only the horses who are full of words.
Napowrimo 2017: Write an elegy centered around a signature phrase of theirs.
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 2, 2017)

A fresh attitude (sautéed with butter and either garlic or onions) is hard to find in certain climates. Serve with any choice of greens.

Folded like divinity with pure cane syrup.
½ Tbsp of honey drizzled in the pan.
To caramelize is entirely your option.
Peel 6 or 7 tenets and shred.
Add a pinch of the herb mixture on page 11.
Knead out the narrow of the marrow.
Start to fricassee some fresh foliage.
Do not pare down or skim the concoction—
You will starve the recipe and the starter will fail.
Toss in some mettle instead.
Let the mix marinate overnight, uncovered.
Have a cooling rack handy to the side.
There will be stewing. There will be steam.
Add the hot sauce of your municipality.

This soul pot is a food staple worldwide.
Serves 7.49 billion.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a recipe poem.
Apr 2017 · 545
22 Skinny Lions
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 1, 2017)

I have heard
the advice
of a thousand
lions—every one
shoulders back
and heads cocked,
their sultry purr
toothing through
my pulsing veins.
We have heard
22 lullabies
at the edge
of the plain
spoken snarling,
truth of another
mother, the level
of lions who
sincerely are
roaring me:
they are hungry
and I am
the meat.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a Kay Ryan poem.
Apr 2016 · 579
Noise in the Signal
Mary McCray Apr 2016
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 11, 2016)

There are eight laptops on the table:
An HP, a Dell, my Toshiba and four Apples
all plugged into a six-plug hub.

Four rectangular tables braced
together, a fake wood grain.  
Cheat sheets, memory sheets,
plastics full of liquids.

Wild card expressions
regular on methodical faces.
Dimensions and metrics, conversions and hits,
greatest hits on a histogram.

We’re talking about where geographic
channels drive traffic. Where we stand.
Who we are. What does it mean.
Data, data, data, dream big, world takeover.

How I am a cookie on my computer,
ultimately, mysteriously edible.
I completely crapped out on Napowrimo this year. Wah! I tried to keep going during a business trip that involved two conferences (LA Bookfest and Luminetrics Google Analytics Training). The stress prepping for that crazy trip sent me into a stomach flu spiral on trip day one. So basically I just zombied my way from hotel bed to conference to hotel bed for seven days during which I vaguely watched reality programming on E! and now know more about the various housewife shows than is probably healthy. I thought I would catch up on poems but I have to admit defeat. These notes were taken during the first day of my second conference on the 11th  describing my surroundings and ending on a philosophy. and this is probably as good as it will get for me this year.
Apr 2016 · 403
Festival of Books
Mary McCray Apr 2016
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 10, 2016)

in the talking hours.
One hundred frogs,
a spiritual practice in three lines.
Plainwater, twin cities,
notes on the assemblage.
Bough down ghost girl.
These are the titles of the books of poetry I bought at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival April 10th.
Apr 2016 · 645
Say Something Scary
Mary McCray Apr 2016
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 9, 2016)

I’m writing this at the airport terminal halfway through a nightmare.
My head is full of three classes (two online), one Infinite Jest reading group, one novel and 30 poems.

First there was the business trip I shuffled all my days for.
Three weeks of being hijacked in paperwork and last minute delays.

The day before my trip had me begging a conference admin to let us register for the middle day which had sold out during said bureaucratic delays.

I scrambled to make it work: the packing, the physical therapy, mailing my mother’s 80th birthday gift.

I forgot to check in for my flight and over the last three days temporarily lost various items including my travel paperwork.  I have spilled multiple liquids on important pieces of paper.

I paid for a tea and there was no tea. I went uncaffeinated. My late-night flight was cancelled.  In the week ahead I will lose steam, lose faith, lose my way and throw up twice.

Such maneuverings drag on the world’s caul.

I woke up at 4 am this morning and feel like I should have a good crying jag. Bernie is not a democrat. Hillary is not a socialist. The arguing will not stop. You know forever it will not stop. I am and we are all way behind in everything and it piles up a cacophony of noise.  I am way to tired
and far too heart superstitious to write a single line
in any way tainted with risk at this moment.
Been totally derailed with this. Left Friday for two conferences in Los Angeles. Started taking notes for poems every day but came down with the stomach flu on Saturday and could only manage to do the conferences each day and then crash into bed!
Apr 2016 · 412
Mary McCray Apr 2016
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 8, 2016)

The cherry blossoms
of DC have bloomed in kind—
fair burst of the realm.

Tunnels of cotton
Blush rosier than the rose.
What moral measure.
Looking today at DC Cherry Blossoms online (search National Geographic)  compared to Japans (search Huffington Post)
Apr 2016 · 473
Tritina Dogma
Mary McCray Apr 2016
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 7, 2016)

“I don’t care for a man’s religion
whose dog and cat are not the better for it.”
-- Abraham Lincoln

Poll the polecat for I don’t have, to say, a dog
in this fray, in this tussle of quicksand policy.
No kibble in the bowl of faithful-isms,

the ticks and slugs of sham prisms.
As the maxim goes—if you lie with dogs,
you wake up with fleas and fated policy.

You wake up as compromised as policy
uncompromised, orchestrating schisms
and foul offensives. Beware of the dog

policy, bird dogging and false Emersonian-
I cheated with ism words which were too juicy to refuse.
Apr 2016 · 830
The Sonnet of Soda
Mary McCray Apr 2016
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 6, 2016)

The not-smell of pop fiz on ice
stimulating the hairs in the nose,
caffeine coolness so far down a throat
it touches the brain, frees the sinus
in a chemo-corporate embrace.
The soda jerks are calling for shares
of my stomach, even the crenelated
linings, even the misled calorie,
even the sorrowful marrow of the bone.
Consider the mitochondrial malaise of this,
the very psycho-pathological thirst
that kills what we need.
Yesterday I came across a great article called "Instagram and the Cult of the Attention Web: How the Free Internet is Eating Itself" (https://medium.com/re-write/instagram-and-the-cult-of-the-attention-web-how-the-free-internet-is-eating-itself-909b5713055e#.yyq1037l6) about the Internet's increasing dependency on our attention and how Coca Cola is literally talking about shares of stomachs.
Apr 2016 · 600
Panopoly of the Wiseacre
Mary McCray Apr 2016
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 5, 2016)

When I was a child a relative told me
the English do not eat tomatoes.
And I cannot let go of the false idea,
the tomato-ness of America.
Large Red, Old Virginia,
the Mortgage Lifter—
these all sound gravely patriotic.
As does Martian or Mountain Princess,
like some Appalachian fruit.
Even the almost allegorical
Early Abe. But what about the purist,
the Romaist, if you will, the one-kind
of onion eater who won’t take artichokes
or okra, lives on peas and is a veritable
celery-heart, consumes eggplant only as a slur,
garlic as jewelry; potato is his credo.

Take the speckled small watermelon,
red with evaporating streaks of green.
The part of this and the part of that.
The half breed, the synthesis, the cauliflora
extraordinary. Full of halves. I know
quite a few people who would refuse it.
Apr 2016 · 540
Cruel 30
Mary McCray Apr 2016
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 4, 2016)

November is a pine cone crush
of persuaded cheer. Each year stops
at the tide of the revelries.
A mousetrap apparatus of dollar tunnels,
rows and rows of landfill tonnage,
squeezes the lungs into crisp, discount frost.
Perfection is always ready to be taken on
in ribbons and fray. There really is a war
on you, crazy Aunt Belfry, and Uncle Trill,
a war of turkey-leg nationhood,
a war of congregation and freedom and self,
a war of thanks.
Apr 2016 · 580
Ode Letter
Mary McCray Apr 2016
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 3, 2016)

O Jackie O,
I never once loved you so.
So skeletal in voice and dress,
Too stiff and ironically glamourless.

But I wonder today if you might
Have guidance to state on this fight
Between burlesque yacht-yellers
And gold-plated chief fellers.

Just yesterday my girl endorsed my girl*
Throwing another flag into the whorl.
Would endorsing be a thing you would do
Like so many diplomatic kangaroo?

How can we parse your demure brevities
As one of the pseudo celebrities?
Is it all just the new and the old
Auctioning the righteous and the sold?

Is it all just the shiny
For the brute and the whiny?
The answer lies not in your pillbox hats
Or from infinitely sermonizing acrobats.

A gun is always cocked at the ballot gate
To defend abstractions under the breastplate.
O bookish frau, the parade quickly becomes fraught,
Kennedus patiens, covered in blood and covered in thought.
*Oblique fan reference to my girls: http://goo.gl/9265S2
Mary McCray Apr 2016
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 2, 2016)

We’ve been framed in one of those initially sticky
new snaps of plastic advent technology. At my birth
a blast of blue and blood orange. All of us in diminutive
stiff portraits, bordered in white. Mother is chic-thin,

hair towering in one last hurrah for the old decade,
Byzantine print blouse to match her solid orange Capris.
Big brother is seven, bully-freckled in light blue and crying
under his father’s arm. This will turn to sublimated rage.

The middle boy is off to the side, at five years dubious.
He is also sporting patterns of gray Byzantine. His shoe is untied
and we will not remember the same things. A dark void
of couch separates him and his feet are hanging

high above a rug which is dutifully shagged and tan
as if we’re all fleas on the hide of Benji. The couch is rough,
upholstered in a Baroque of dark blue and other blues
like an act foretelling a tough forthcoming.

Dad has the forehead of high Renaissance.
He’s wearing some suede kind of loafer and the confidence
of someone who has just learned to set a camera timer.
I don’t know where his glasses are or if there were any yet.

What a smart bunch or soon to be smart bunch.
I am the fat one, a diamond of balancing white
in my mother’s polyester lap, not yet one, most probably
kicking,  noticeably turned to the crying brother

as if I’m full of knowledge about what this means
and how delicate the emotional balance will always be.
I remember the wallpaper felt like dried wheat.
Despite everything, we usually all vote pretty much the same.
Forgot to mention in my first day that this month I've added an extra challenge for myself to try to write the same poem 30 times, which when the prompt is subject related, like today, will suppress that bit somewhat.
Apr 2016 · 952
Lunes for the Loons
Mary McCray Apr 2016
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 1, 2016)

Pitchforks gather,
Chinese made,
The red embroideries.

Autocrats swagger
Bile hyperboles.

And wicked blather
The soul amputees.
Following the prompts this year!
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 30, 2015)

The tendency to see oneself as less biased than other people, or to be able to identify more cognitive biases in others than oneself.

These are the vents of my being a self.
I am aware of my twain selves.

I witness the movie that is my life.

My atoms mingle with the worlds atoms.
My slutty atoms.

My feet ache. My chest hurts.
I suffer, therefore I am.

But then I forget I exist
and that this movie is me.

My own self has sold me out.
Genetically modified me.
Made me over with mascara.

The building blocks of me
are ancient. I duly notice
all my hot air.

I suitably put on the suit
and cling to the suit.

The suit sticks to me like an ad campaign.

I constantly need new technology
to explain me to me

when the new version is launched.
America is ceaseless newfangled versioning.

I am dying
but I don’t know where I am.
Jeesh that was rough! Exhausted with this year’s project! Today's news: undersea vents brought building blocks of life to earth planet: http://uncovercalifornia.com/content/24284-undersea-vents-may-have-created-basic-building-blocks-life-life-formed-earth
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 29, 2015)

The phenomenon where people justify increased investment in a decision, based on the cumulative prior investment, despite new evidence suggesting that the decision was probably wrong. Also known as the sunk cost fallacy.

The Donner Party refusing to stay put,
Mark Twain’s  four million dollar investment
in the Paige Compositor, an early automatic
typesetting machine, Paige taking Twain’s money
for 14 years while other machines prevailed.

A project of biases like this.

It is the broken heart bias, the grit bias.
Tenacity like a tin ear. The fellow who completes
what he has, dammit, set out for.

Does it take decades anymore? Months across
the mountain pass? A lie you tell yourself
as fast as a tweet?

In times like these a robot could grab it—
your timely mistake and capitalize
your catastrophes . No leak. No hack.
No time to adjust to fortune’s funny ironies.

What happens too fast, what happens slow and long—
there’s always a spot of space to stop for,
time to consider time itself in your hand
with its diamond faces. What are you doing
and should you not pivot slightly to the side?
Twitter just lost $4 billion dollars due to an untimely tweet: www.bbc.com/news/technology-32511932
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 28, 2015)

The urge to do the opposite of what someone wants you to do out of a need to resist a perceived attempt to constrain your freedom of choice.

Devaluing proposals only because they are purportedly originated with an adversary.

Adversaries: we imagine them up
like dime store villains. The heroic "I"
discharging bullets at the caprock
until a quake tips the mudslide.
This is what we say when we say
the hero and the villain are one.
Violence is just or unjust;
the hangman is the madman.

Depends upon who holds the axe.
Depends on our reckoning
of your freedom and any estimations
on mine. There is no reason to it.
Only rationales and riots of biases,
sentiments knotted up in the noose,
the ethical choker worn to glisten
in the pageant, worn to crucify,
worn to suffocate.
Nepalese earthquake is causing mudslides today and riots continue in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray.
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 27, 2015)

The tendency to over-report socially desirable characteristics or behaviors in one self and under-report socially undesirable characteristics or behaviors.

Putting on your face.
I call it Star Self-F**king.
Pitifully normal.
It is reported that FB and Google are helping to locate Nepal's earthquake victims so....I guess we can say that our Facebook face is simply a reflection of who we really are: narcissist or altruistic or something in between. (http://money.cnn.com/2015/04/27/technology/google-facebook-person-finder-nepal/index.html)
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 26, 2015)

The tendency to want to finish a given unit of a task or an item. Strong effects on the consumption of food in particular.

The small bag of corn chips, the can of soup,
the box tray of pasta, studies of portion

marking progress through existence.
Units move from your hands to your body

whatever the form of consumption
like track loops, pudding trays and poems--

they all have their metrics, even nostalgic
collages hiding behind miscellany.

Even improvisation has its forms; every mess
and message has its borders like nuclear meltdowns

moving in waves to the California coast,
Nepalese earthquakes and the avalanche of Ever

through years of tremorfications.
The corner diatribist can always tell you

there's a horrific endlessness to it all
and many, many happy ends.
Nepal earthquake, an avalanche on Mount Everest....looks of earth talking today.
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 25, 2015)

The tendency to judge harmful actions as worse, or less moral, than equally harmful omissions.

The tendency to persuade oneself through rational argument that a purchase was a good value.

It's late at night and I'm forty years into a very thorough and consumerist collection of the vast ouvre of Cherilyn Sarkisian, 60s street urchin turned enshrined Hollywood A-lister -- iconic up there with Halston, Bianca, Liz and Jackie.

Paper and vinyl and electromagnetic tape, discs and cassettes and books and blankets and dolls and perfumes and magnets. Words and music and ideas every one purchased from corporations and strangers and seven 7-inch picture discs bartered online from a friend I didn't know I would one day meet.

It's late and I've been the Wrecking Crew premiere, sitting in the middle
of an Albuquerque scene of sorts,  the documentary opening at the local art house with me wedged between California-Sound fanatics. I'm sitting next to an oldies DJ everybody in town seems to knows but me.

The DJ laments how political the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is, (but then aren't they all?), and how Chubby Checker has yet to be inducted. As I see Cher self-depricate through the movie, I know she's an outsider to even this outsider culture. And if we peruse the halls rosters, we can easily make her case. But omissions always mean something. My basement full of memorabilia tells me what ain't right. But that's the bias talking. The same bias that gets The Byrds inducted, those who we've just learned didn't even play on their own records, or the theatrics of Alice Cooper, or the season of Ricky Nelson, or the artifice of KISS, Madonna....I've spent a fortune but just wait until the book comes out.

Post-purchase rationalizations, aren't they all?
Go see The Wrecking Crew movie. Went to the Q and A tonight to listen to stories of directory Denny Todesco.
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 24, 2015)

*The tendency for people to place a disproportionately high value on objects that they partially assembled themselves, such as furniture from IKEA, regardless of the quality of the end result.:

My press-board dresser is a found poem.
Partly not-me but traces of my DNA
all over the ideas of wood.

Pointing to it I say:
this is me, something more
than nothing.

It is my romantic grain to cherish this,
to value the mass produced artifice
alongside the singular sensation.

One. Many. Me. Them.
What’s it all worth?
Bullies of values poke us

to tears and craft and craftiness.
LA street art disparaged by NYC
fashionistas. Let us drill down

the spur of all gangland critique.
Face the mural as it lays. Park the car,
face the plane and listen

to what every one is saying,
even if it’s nothing but
a minute reclaimed.
Good article on LA Street Art: http://laist.com/2015/04/23/best_street_art_los_angeles.php
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 23, 2015)

The tendency to underestimate the influence or strength of feelings, in either oneself or others.

The intellectual stone:
intrepid bravado,
indissoluble substance of certitude,
the very matter of suffering
unable to dissolve its own errors
and miscalculations of how we are.

Unmovable, it burns in the sun.
It sinks in the stream and rolls
only when the other stones roll.
We love our stones. We do.
But what about the rock’s soft
cradle of soil, the embrace of earth.

Goodwill we say, (because love
implies too much), is a practice,
a radial gradient of feeling
gripping, like a muscle, the joy
and sifting go of the hard ache,
the tight cerebral prizefight ropes,
the square platform comprising a ring,
soft gong that ends the quarrel  
which was always only
gray canvass in the brain.
New Study Finds Mindfulness Therapy As Effective As Meds Against Depression Relapse (Huffington Post)
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 22, 2015)

When a subject is able to recall parts of an item, or related information, but is frustratingly unable to recall the whole item. This thought an instance of “blocking” where multiple similar memories are being recalled and interfere with each other.

That uncompleted or interrupted tasks are remembered better than completed ones.

The mind sees what is broken;  the mind chooses
broken things; the mind breaks to survive
the unmade, unfinished and unresolved.

The heart is the fixer, the clincher,  
wants to color the tongue out to the tip,
wants to fill in the oval, urging and fathoming

parts undone. Breaking and fixing the self—
the tug of war between the thready broken
and the seamless whole. Heart’s pride

is fear of death—so much the stacks
unsorted, the protest unfinished,
the game—something short of won.
I'm getting fatigued!! This poem's news item is for the Baltimore protestors,  protesting again today the death of Freddie Gray.
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