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May 2019 · 1.1k
IV Bard Remix
Mary McCray May 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 27, 2019)

What acceptable audit will you leave
from all your labors and confrontations,
from all the sound and fury
in those moribund board rooms?
The clocks are sluggish with boredom,
the carpets are worn and declining.
What successors will profit from you
past all the centuries and the arteries
evaporating in the light of day,
diminishing and belittled with time;
and all our productive bodies
lie buried, slacking in their tombs?
You are the renter in every office
and own not a penny but the doing.
Prompt: write a Shakespeare remix poem, using one of his sonnet lines, a sonnet word scramble or rewrite one of his ideas. Originating poem: Sonnet IV: http://www.shakespeares-sonnets.com/sonnet/4 plus "10 Shakespeare Quotes Every Entrepreneur Should Read"

Did this one on Apr 27 but it got stuck in draft.
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 30, 2019)


Fingers to the brain
400 WPM
Prompt: write a minimalist poem.
Apr 2019 · 581
First Day
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 29, 2019)

At the end, you always remember the beginning,
sleepless sweating and the dread of the new.
It was going into battle through the glass doors,
the receptionist on the front lines, the rounds of names.
There was always the fear of missing something lifesaving,
the cliffs of inevitable failures ahead of you,
the roster of duties and missions you would not be suited for,
the impenetrable maps, the bank of phones with fifty lights,
the script of survival at the skirmish, the awkwardness
in the dying role.

Figuring out your generals and where they stood
from their hilltop proclamations, this little trooper
finally learned the war machine, way too late
to take on the mission with any patriotism,
way too late to be anything more than a soldier
serving out the term. My badge of honor
became what I could not do, my efficient honesties
and the raw willingness to fail.

Maybe this is a mark of a mature conscript,
the luxury of modesty, the last days
of having nothing left to prove.
Prompt: start with a declarative statement and write a powerful emotion reflected in tranquility.
Apr 2019 · 787
Writing Poems 9 to 5
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 28, 2019)

My first job was data entry, with all those awful numbers.
The next ones were flush with time and words were incalculable,
floating out of copiers and stenographers. I hand-wrote them then

in-between walking memos to real, plastic inboxes.
Microsoft changed everything with their windows
in which I could type out my poems. After all,
writing poems looks awfully similar to working.
And instead of office supplies, I began to steal time.

I snuck words in through open windows,
met them in small storage rooms, had conferences
with them at lunch. I sat in ergonomic chairs
while they reclined on the yellow, lined paper.

Sometimes I had to cajole them.
Sometimes they were team players.
Sometimes they were only wanting to gossip.
Sometimes they came out of the mouths of people
standing unawares in front of my desk. Sometimes
they didn’t show up to work, but I couldn’t fire them.

They liked to be fussed over, rearranged.
They wanted to be knit and spaced.
All they wanted was my attention.
And they must have known I would never give them up
for all the money. Because at the end of the day,
when they took their leave, it always sounded good.
Prompt: write a meta, ars poetica poem.
Apr 2019 · 757
So Many Recipes
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 26, 2019)

There can only be so many recipes for success.
There can only be so many recipes for meatloaf.
There can only be so many recipes for a hit single.
There can only be so many poems about dogs, breakups and trips to Italy.
There can only be so many biographies about Marilyn Monroe.
There can only be so many blues riffs, jazz interludes, and country songs invoking old cars.
There can only be so many widgets and thingamajigs.
There can only be so many eye creams, lipsticks and color-sensitive shampoos.
There can only be so many plastic bags, trampolines and podcasts.
There can only be so many versions.
I can only tell so many new bosses the ropes.
There can only be so many children’s books.
There can only be so many best-selling mystery authors.
There can only be so many brands of soft drink.
There can only be so many brands of liquor.
There can only be so many brands of water.
There can only be so many window frames, iframes and frames of reference.
There can only be so many fireplace repairmen.
There can only be so many times I redo this correction in this spreadsheet.
There can only be so many creation theories with their evangelists on street corners.
There can only be so many arguments I have with my terrier.
There can only be so many poems.
But no, spreadsheets and billboards proliferate like clover
and hypocrites are as bottomless as all the leaves of forever
and poems and recipes and pop songs are the infinite hives of a trillion bees.
Prompt: write a poem with repetition in the vein of  Joanna Klink’s “Some Feel Rain” or John Pluecker’s “So Many.” Getting this in after 9pm! Limping in to the finish line!
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 25, 2019)

What does it mean to be wise?
What does it mean to mentor?
In a world for the young,
does it mean anything?

Old trees in our autumnal springs,
we’ve been through all the weathers,
wind blowing off our bark skins,
the hot sun burning our green.
into a fragile brown crisp.

Among the hustle and bustle of the leaves
and in the hallways of the woods,
we see you repeating all our mistakes:
little seedlings spreading roots
too fast through the loam
for the feel of the cold earth
on your stringy new toes.

Can you smell the honeysuckle
growing like a blanket around you
and enjoy the buddings
of your first springs?

Your leaves are thirsty and proud,
but consider the perils of social climbing.
You hear frenetic twitters on the roof,
but once you climb you will see
only tar and gravel and broken shingles.

Listen to the clouds instead.
Work hard just to stand tall.
Prompt: write a poem like Keats’ “To Autumn” with a rhetorical question, a references to a season, and incorporating all the senses: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell.
Apr 2019 · 642
Administrivia
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 24, 2019)

ad·min·is·triv·i·a  (ăd-mĭn′ĭ-strĭv′ē-ə) pl. n.

1. “A term that encompasses all the trivial tasks that management is far too qualified to suffer through.”

2. Why companies should hire up and not out.

3. A practice that smells bad to worker bees.

4. A malady of misunderstanding how trivia can bring down an empire.

syn. A cop out.

origin. middle business-speak from the Marketing era.
Prompt: write a poem inspired by a reference book; dictionary, thesaurus or encyclopedia. Original definition from theofficelife.com.
Apr 2019 · 468
Home Office Dog Couch
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.
Apr 2019 · 2.1k
Work Diversion
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.
Apr 2019 · 655
Eating the Keys
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.”
Apr 2019 · 442
Plan Bs
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.
Apr 2019 · 900
The ABCs of CMS
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.
Apr 2019 · 505
The Three Gs
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.
Apr 2019 · 578
Tools
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.
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 16, 2019)

For all those years ago.
For answering freely with no agenda.
For being lucking that first interview in the conference room in the office by the marina.
For admitting all I didn't know.
For that being crucial, the not knowing and the knowing what you know and do not know.
For ******* free zones, like IEDs of *******.
For what I am thankful for, for what I am wary of.
For the voices on the line.
For this Mac(in-tosh), for all the Macintoshes and other machines..
For being in meetings with the smartest people in the room.
For seeing the gears.
For conversations about the realities of cyberness.
For coming and going on good terms.
For the pinon tree outside my window and the growing hollyhocks.
For high-performing teams.
For mile runners.
For exactly where I was.
For exactly where I am now.
For the halls and the lines in the system.
For the hubs and the names here and gone.
For talking about it, structuring it.
For getting lost in it.
For being in and of the whole world, in its big and smallness.
For being in this one place, this one small space, out past the mountain with the largest arsenal of nuclear warheads on earth, out on the mesa, towards the sisterhood of volcanoes.
For the old office by the marina where it all started.
For the years of ocean at my back through the window.
For standing at the window and being thankful then.
For sitting by the window now and being thankful again.
For this time right now.
For coming to what is yours.
For never wanting what is not.
Prompt: write a poem in the style of Christopher Smart: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45173/jubilate-agno
Apr 2019 · 419
Let’s Just Say Sonnet
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 15, 2019)

Let’s just say I could run this foundation single-handedly.

Let’s just say no one here knows how to do their job and I’ve been doing this for years.

Let’s just say, between you and me, my football event is gonna really show ‘em how it’s done.

They’re trying to tell me what to do, can you believe it? They say these football players won’t draw a big crowd.

I need you to go to the sports store and buy me a football.

You know what a football looks like, don’t you?

You made a typo here on this thing. We can’t have any mistakes.

I typed that? Well, then my mistakes are your fault.

These guys are *****. Don’t pay them.

It’s not my fault no one wants to come to this event.

Tell everybody to get down to the bar and make it look like people came to this stupid event.

That was a complete fiasco.

But everyone was against me from the start.

Nobody would work with me.
Prompt: write a dramatic monologue.
Apr 2019 · 3.2k
Leadership Contronyms
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 14, 2019)

To lead is to be light and fluid
like a pied piper.

But often they are like lead,
silver and immovable.

They sanction in times of mercy
like when your parakeet died
and you’re late to work.

They don’t remediate with punishments
of docked pay for your inability
to get over it.

They buckle it together:
strategic plan and daily ops,
team to team to team.

They never buckle under
like King Lear
or a bad knee.

The overlook the floor.
They know everyone by name.

They never overlook a widget,
flaw or warning signal.

They are stakeholders.
They hold a stake.

They are never proxies,
holding stakes for other leaders.

The are transparent, obvious.
Never out of sight.

They weather the downturn, withstand the force.
They do not corrode.

The seed. They put down seeds.
They do not rob the fruit.
Prompt: “incorporates homophones, homographs, or homonyms.”
Apr 2019 · 673
Soft Skills
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 13, 2019)

The ghostly interpersonal,
the witchery of timing,
the mysterious outcomes
of patience and the profits
of charm, no matter
the heaths of play,
no matter the Frankenstein
or incarnate predicament,
its persuasive chill
and conjuring prevails
appear cryptic
and incomprehensible.
You cannot be initiated
or ordained into it;
you cannot be schooled.
And it is more fearsome
than gloomy inheritances
and more useful
than your bleak diploma.
Prompt: “Write a poem about something that is mysterious and spooky” in a good or bad way.
Apr 2019 · 754
Erasing Labor
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 12, 2019)

“The daughter made herself
an expert in the illness, to erase it
on its own terms: still it stayed, it grew, and as you know
the eraser soon starts disappearing.”
-- Albert Goldbarth from “Not Sumerian”



Years ago I began an eraser manifesto
for a collection of my erasers,
all with their soft curves and rolling debris,
all kinds of shapes and function,
those perched atop pencils
and novel, freestanding monuments.

The manifesto is short enough
to be erasable and reads as follows:

Erasers acknowledge, accept and accommodate the idea of failure.

Erasing destroys the eraser.
This has ramifications in social relations.

Corollary of above: to love an object too much
renders it un-usable.

It’s fun to erase but also fun to resist erasing.
And this too has ramifications in social relations.
Prompt: “write a poem about a dull thing that you own, and why (and how) you love it.” Quote from: https://www.vqronline.org/not-sumerian
Apr 2019 · 358
Practicing Work
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 11, 2019)

In New Mexico I started with reddish mud in the backyard
and water, making pies in the rain or  driving Matchbox cars
through the soft dirt tunnels in the front-yard planter.
Moving the elastic earth. It felt like work. It was work.

Then we moved to Missouri and other imaginations came into it:
menus handwritten on shiny black cardboard for cafe tables.
Our customers were only conceivably truck drivers.

We were en plein air writers on the hill between our houses.
Math and grammar workbooks were re-purposed
for playing student and teacher.
The plays and newscasts we choreographed over a full day.
We were talent and the crew with scripts and backdrops.

Even when we played at motherhood, we left our babies
without babysitters and left for work.

When we were pirates we had to build our tree houses.
When we were scholars we need to assemble piles of books.
When we swam we were swimming to dry land.

Practicing work. I still do it. I think I’m doing it right now.
Prompt: "write a poem of origin. Where are you from? Not just geographically, but emotionally, physically, spiritually?"  The example they used is Origin Stories by Safia Elhillo and I have literally written my own about New Mexico with a very similar opening sentence! Mine was “I came out of the clay” vs. “I was made out of clay.” But mine must have a self-imposed office spin so this is the origin of me as a worker-bee.
Apr 2019 · 319
Confluence
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 10, 2019)

There’s a particular thrill
in being the moving thing,
the beast to send all others
into shelters, the efficient,
awesome torpedo
doing what you’re meant to do.

A good work team is like a fire of wind,
all the muscles of the engine burning
three-hundred miles an hour.

In Kansas they call it a twister,
a confluence of conditions
that send everyone into the cellar
listening to the cyclone rip up floorboards
and tip over all the tables.

In Missouri it was a tornado and a basement.
In an office it’s called innovation and disruption.
And a time comes for climbing out of gullies
and dusty bathtubs and diligently rebuilding the town.
And then saying benediction for the dead.
Prompt: "write a poem that starts from a regional phrase, particularly one to describe a weather phenomenon."
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 9, 2019)

The gray-suited day stalker
who doesn’t have a profession
or know what yours is,
but he checks to see if you’re dressed appropriately
and at your desk at all times.

Pretending that all problems can be solved
within increments of one hour.

Bragging, boasting under-performers.

The saying “a lack of planning on your part
does not constitute an emergency on my part”
because, in fact, it does constitute an emergency
on all our parts every day, this allergy to planning.

Vengeful Vionnas.
They’ve had a hard time of it
in the eras of flares and perms
and they’re taking it out on you.

People who sit in trainings and take no notes
and then later want help doing all the things.

The Slippery Sandy who avoids all responsibility
by claiming to be confused by her voice mailbox,
and insisting there’s too many emails to read yours,
and disappearing into every meeting unrelated to her job.

People who think going to meetings is the work.

Misguided goals. Lack of goals.
People who pretend not to know what a goal is.

The pain of seeing a good idea die
without the aid of a hired bully.

Watching the young
having to learn it all over again.
Prompt: Write a Sei Shonagon style list poem.
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 8, 2019)

The numbers are down;
the competition is high.
Data is demure
and playing it
close to the vest.
So they assign you a project
that takes you three months
of tedious spreadsheet work.
But no one ever sees it
because leadership changes course
two weeks after you’ve docked
and your little rows of cyber-work
sit unnoticed in the darkness
of their computers,
dying on the pass
like a souffle unclaimed
in the back of a French restaurant.
Next they ask you to set up a committee
to restructure the product line
and it takes up all your Saturdays
to meet the deadline.
But no one ever sees it.
because unbeknownst
to you and your piffling endeavors,
you’ve all been circling the drain
for six months now,
soon be bought out,
shut down or swallowed
into the dark, wet plumbing
of the toiling machine.
Dig, trudge, grind, drudge
through the cave-dark network,
floating on the keyboard
from one drain to the next.
Prompt: Write a poem using a professional phrase as a metaphor (thank god for tender mercies: an office prompt!)
Apr 2019 · 344
Week End
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 7, 2019)

Today I stopped working for fifteen minutes
to sit on a bench I’ve carried from Venice California
to Santa Fe to Albuquerque
and listen to the birds nesting all around me
like opinionated men.
I’m sure some of them are birdsplaining
to other birds and some harpies are nagging back.
Building stuff is hard.

We're all out here together listening to spring
silently unfold from the trees.
Next month I’ll read a book out here.
Then the birds can see I know a thing or two.

My neighbor is up on his roof ripping up shingles.
I’m hoping he can hear the spring blooming too.
It’s a gift to be outside.
Prompt: Write a poem of gifts, to yourself and someone else.
Apr 2019 · 669
Home Office
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 6, 2019)

If all the conditions could be met
(and all the stars align in my phone’s telescope app)

If we had to leave that other house suddenly
(and pay its landlord through our noses)

If we had to suffer heat exhaustion and motel arguments
(during three moves last year: Penske, U-Haul and an Enterprise van)

If I could dance like a ballerina delicately out of that chorus line
(not unlike a surgeon extracting his very self)

If the clouds would align to send down a rain to water our crops
(So unlikely, I’m in the desert after all)

If I had a few days to compose myself literally
(I was pulled through a hedge backwards last year)

If I can get through the paper-maze of the new enterprise
(like a donkey following a carrot through the boxwood)

If this could seem more than a solemn little pipe dream
(the pipe being referred to is an ***** pipe, did you know)

If I could walk out into the gardens at noon and smell the roses
(an exaggeration, but a happy idea)

If we had to go through all that
to get to all this

If I am sitting here right now writing this poem
(like I’ve always imagined it)
Prompt: Write an If poem of possibility.
*** this is going to be hard. Why did I pick an office theme??
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 5, 2019)

Does every villanelle have a villain?
Does every corporation have a crook?
Variations of rascals we must fill in,

Missions, visions and values for the killin’
And pardons to get ‘em off the hook?
Is every captain one part villain?

Professing family values but all too willin’
To trip the rival or cook the book
With every pernicious deduction you could fill in?

Resembling the goodly they’re so skillin’,
Pillar of the communities of mask and rook,
Second to none but a theological villain.

There’s a place where these souls should be grillin’
For all the pocketbooks they’ve took,
The loop holes they omit to fill in,

Those offshore dollars dutifully chillin’.
What to do when consumer confidence is shook?
When news men denounce every C-level villain?
Employ some innocent temps to fill in.
Prompt: Write a villanelle
I'm trying to stick to my monthly theme of office poems and still do the daily prompts.
Apr 2019 · 355
Things I Didn’t Know
Mary McCray Apr 2019
That to be honest was always fatal.
To try to get to the truth of the matter

was the last thing anybody wanted.
To be right about what just happened,

to locate efficiencies, to finish the job
and be the best–so far from the point of it.

Everyone just wanted to keep it going,
to pretend we were all working

and doing our best.
To be moving toward progress

instead of talking about moving
was not where they agreed to be.

Sitting in the sun-drenched mire of it,
sunbathing in the objectives.

That’s where the old saying was concocted:
putting lipstick on a pig.
Prompt: Write a sad poem, without emotional words.
This was my third attempt. Still too vague but I’ve run out of time and am not feeling sufficiently sad today to pull it off.
Apr 2019 · 7.2k
True Story
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 3, 2019)

“Not all those who wander are lost.” -- J. R. R. Tolkien

I was an office temp for many years when I was young. All the companies: Kelly girls, Manpower, Adecco. I took innumerable tests in typing, word processing, spreadsheets.

The worst job was at a sales office for home siding. I logged complaints all day on the phone about faulty siding.

I worked at a construction site in Los Angeles, a new middle-class ghetto they were building on the Howard Hughes air strip. I worked in a trailer and had to wait until lunch break to walk a block to the bathroom in the new library.

There was one warehouse I worked in that had mice so employed a full-time cat to work alongside us. The cat left dead mice everywhere. I was always cold there.

A lot of places I was replacing someone on vacation, someone the office assumed was indispensable but there was never anything for me to do there but read. I wrote a lot of letters to pen pals and friends. Email hadn’t been invented yet. Sometimes I’d walk memos around the office. Nobody ever invited me to meetings. Be careful what you wish for. Sometimes it comes true and you end up sitting in endless meetings.

In one swanky office I prepared orders in triplicate on a typewriter. I kept messing up and having to start over. Eventually I started to enjoy this. It was a medical lab and was convinced they were doing animal testing so I left after a week.

One of my early jobs was as a receptionist in a war machine company. My contact there asked me to do “computer work” (as it was called then) but I didn’t know how to use a mac or a mouse. My contact called my agency to complain about sending out “girls without basic skills.” My agency told me not to worry about it, the war company was just trying to scam us all by paying for a receptionist to do “computer work.” So they stuck me at the switchboard up front where I found bomb-threat instructions taped under the desk.

I worked at a design store and learned a program called Word Perfect. I started typing and printing the letters to my friends. The St. Louis owner was trying to sell the company to a rich Los Angeles couple. Once, a young gay designer I admired called and referred to me as “the girl up front with the glasses.” I immediately went out and got contact lenses. Before I left, I bought a desk and a chair they were selling. Years later, I sold the desk to an Amish couple in Lititz, PA, but I still have the chair.

I once worked for a cheap couple running a plastic mold factory. The man was paranoid, cheap and houvering and I said I wouldn’t stay past two weeks. They asked me to train a new temp and I said okay. The new temp also found the owner to be paranoid, cheap and houvering and so declared to me she wouldn’t stay past the week either. She confided in me she had gotten drunk and slept with someone and was worried she was pregnant. She was freaking out because she was going through a divorce and already had two kids. I told her about the day-after-pill which she had never heard of. I don’t know if it worked because I never used it myself and I never saw her again after that to follow up.

At another office I did nothing at the front desk for three weeks, bored and reading all the Thomas Covenant novels. I would take my lunch break under a big tree to continue reading the Thomas Covenant novels.

I worked for months at a credit card company reading books and letting in visitors through the locked glass door. Week after week, the receptionist would call in sick. One young blonde woman would give me filing work. She was telling me all about her wedding she was planning which sounded pretty fun and it made me want to plan a wedding too. After a few weeks she asked me what my father did. I said he was a computer programmer. She replied that my dad sounded like somebody her dad would beat up. I was too shocked by the rudeness to say dismissively, “I seriously doubt that.” (For one, my dad wasn’t always a computer programmer.) When it became clear the woman I was replacing had abandoned her job, they asked me if I wanted to stay on. I said no, that I was moving to New York City. I wasn’t  (but I did eventually).

Some places “kept me on” like the mortgage underwriters in St. Louis. That office had permanent wood partitions between the desks, waist-high and a pretty, slight woman training to join the FBI. She fainted one day by the copier. It was there that I told my first successful joke ever. Our boss was a part-time Baptist minister and we loved him because he was able to inspire us during times of low morale. One day we saw a bug buzzing above us in a light fixture.  Before I even thought about it I said, “I guess you could say he finally saw the light.” Everybody laughed a lot and I turned bright red. I wrote my essay to Sarah Lawrence College there after hours at the one desk with a typewriter. My boss and I got laid off the same day. He helped me carry my things out to my car.

I worked at a large food company in White Plains, NY. I often came home with boxes of giveaway Capri Sun in damaged boxes. I helped a blind woman fill out her checks. She was really grouchy and I wasn’t allowed to pet her service dog. She had dusty junk all over her desk but she couldn’t see it to make it tidy. I realized then that she would never be able to use a stack of desk junk as a to-do list...because she couldn’t see it. You can’t to-do what you can’t see and how we all probably take this fact for granted with our piles of desk junk. Years later I had the same thought about to-do lists burned in phones or computer files.

They also “kept me on” at the Yonkers construction company. I was there for years. The British woman next to me was not my boss but she ordered me around a lot. She told me I looked like an old 1940s actress I had never heard of who always wore her hair in her face. I was annoyed by this compliment because when I looked the actress up on the Internet I could see it wasn’t true. At the time, everyone was just getting on the Internet and I was already addicted to eBay. I would leave meetings in the middle for three minute at a time to ****** items with my competitive late-second bids. It was my first job with email too, and I emailed many letters to all my friends all day long. One elderly man there thought it was funny to give me cigars (which I smoked socially at the time) and told me unsavory ****** facts to shock me. I thought he was harmless and funny and his attempts to unsettle me misguided because I had already grown up with two older brothers who were smelly and hellbent on unsettling me. Later the man started dating and seemed happier and I met his very nice older girlfriend at one of the laborious, day-long Christmas parties our Italian owners threw every year. Months later his girlfriend was murdered in her garage by her estranged husband. Most of the office left to go to her funeral and I felt very bad for him.

And they kept me on at the Indian arts school in Santa Fe. I loved every day I spent there, walking the halls looking at student art. I had never seen so many beautiful faces in one place. One teacher there confided in me about her troubles and I tried to be Oprah. She ended up having to take out a restraining order against a man she met online. At the trial, the man tried to attack the female judge and she awarded the teacher the longest restraining order ever awarded in Santa Fe: 100 years. He broke the restraining order one day on campus and we were all scared about where he was and if he had a gun. All around the school were rolling hills and yellow blooming chamisa and we found tarantulas in the parking lot. I was there almost a full school year until I moved away.

I was once a temp in a nursing temp office that had large oak desks and big leather chairs. The office was empty except for one other woman. The boss was on vacation and she spent all our time complaining about what an *** he was and how mistreated the nurses were. I remember feeling uncomfortable in the leather chair. The boss, who I never met, called me one day to tell me he had fired her and that I should know she was threatening to come back with a gun. When I called the agency they laughed it off. I told them I wouldn’t go back.

My favorite temp job was at a firefighting academy in rural Massachusetts. I edited training manuals along with two other temps. It was very interesting work. The academy was in the middle of the woods, down beautiful winding roads with old rock walls. Driving to work I would listen to TLC and Luther Vandross. And whenever I hear Vandross sing I still think of the Massachusetts woods. When I left, they let me have a t-shirt and I wore it for years. One of the trainers had a son who was a firefighter who asked me out on a date. I said I was moving to New York City (this time it was true) and not interested in a relationship. He insisted the date would be just as friends. He took me to Boston’s North End and we ate gnocchi while he told me how he didn’t believe it was right to hit women. This comment alarmed me. He then took me to a highrise, skyview bar downtown where he proceeded to **** my fingers. I thought about Gregg Allman and Cher’s first date where Gregg Allman ****** Cher’s fingers and how now Cher and I had something in common: the disappointment of having one’s fingers ******. My scary date didn’t want to take me home and I was living with my brother at the time, so I told him my brother was crazy and if I didn’t get back by ten o’clock my brother would freak out like a motherf&#$er. That part wasn’t true...but it worked. I made it home.

I used to be deathly afraid of talking to strangers on the phone. I used to be bored out of my mind watching the clock. I used to wish I were friends with many of the interesting people walking past my desk.

When I look back on all this and where I’ve been, it seems so random, meandering through offices in so many different cities. But it wasn’t entropy or arbitrary. I was always working on the same thing.

I was a writer.
Prompt:Write a meandering poem that takes its time to get to its point.
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 2, 2019)

What is it we’re doing among parodies and spoofs,
gardening statements and occupational gloom,
pickling our scorn and passive reproofs
around tables in dreary workrooms?
What is it we’re trying at the end of the day
before we climb into our sports cars and utility vans?
We don’t care a whit anyway
for the scopes and the archives and the myriad plans,
for dependents and despondents who pay us no rent,
for the annual declarations we mostly mimed.
The paycheck is dwindling and mostly spent.
The spirit has already been fined.
We are twisting ourselves around hemispheres.
What are we doing here?
Prompt: End with an open-ended question, provide lack of closure.
Mary McCray Apr 2019
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 1, 2019)

1. Deck Standing
When you decide to leave ranks, rise above the deck like a gliding seagull.

2. Release the Missives
Send your final letters of adoration on the penultimate day, like a bird on the beach waiting to capitalize on a wave cycle.

3. Captain’s Greeting
Shake hands with the rest of the crew and watch them exit down into the gun deck.

4. Walk the Deck
Walk the perimeter of the establishment, bow to rudder. You will never see this ground again and, although you are still seasick, one day you will forget most of it.

5. Pack the Duffel
Collect your starfish.

6. Unhook the Lifebuoy
Prepare the skiff. The helm is literally every part of it.

7. Housekeeping
One last bit of gossip with the **** crew.

8. Unfold the Map
Chart a course to the port of ferries. By definition they will take you somewhere.

9. Salute the Mast
It is a rugged piece of your soul that you must leave behind.

10. Go
Set sail for the open calm.
Apr 2017 · 765
Ideologies
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 · 965
Serenade
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 · 800
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 · 1.0k
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 · 922
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 ****.
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 · 830
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 ******* trustee,

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

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 · 627
Stacks
Mary McCray Apr 2017
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 23, 2017)

Office
Chaotic stacks
Crux of house
Where the dope lives
Brainstorm

Field
Open grass
Paper blowing away
Along odysseys of grass
Unleashed
Napowrimo 2017: Write a double elevenie.
Apr 2017 · 1.0k
A Georgic on Growing Pickles
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 **** 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 *****, basketballs and boxing gloves, figuratively speaking. Literally there are only golf *****
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 · 635
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
    people—
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 · 773
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 · 673
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 · 935
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 ****.

Wishing you a punch in the new face,
Original Face
Napowrimo 2017: Write a poem in the form of a correspondence.
Apr 2017 · 649
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 ******:
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 · 749
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 ****** 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 ****** periods is the point of this procedure,
is why we exalt the expertise of the ovaries.
Napowrimo 2017: Write a ghazal.
Apr 2017 · 882
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 · 987
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.
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