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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.
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.
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.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 8, 2014)

ppp> Practice makes perfect
br> ad news travels fast
br / Give the devil his due
br / Every man has his faults href=""

p> Give him an inch and he'll take a mile
br / The best go first
br / Seeing is believing
br / Silence is golden

p>  Ignorance is bliss
br / Patience is a (span style="font-size:inline-is-no") virtue(/span>
br / “Nobody comes here anymore
br / It's too crowded” (Yogi Berra said that)

p> All good things must come to an end
br / Thank the World Wide Web
br / First things (form)
It only exists if you (html)
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 12, 2014)

Can poetry survive? Can we survive as poets?
There are more poets than tigers or black rhinos.
There are more readers of verse than Leatherback Turtles
or all of the Yangtze Finless Porpoise.

Grand Theft Auto, Strive-and-Thrive books,
Brave-New-World movie rentals—
they may have taken over living room pleasures.
But now with our tweets and submittables,

our bad poems travel fast.
The wires and workshops are still full of weedy thinkers
and word-tinkers. Maybe the distribution will change
and who makes the money, like the printing press

set the monks to the curb. The medium was always unstable.
As soon as an invention is born, it begins to die.
Don’t put all your eggs in one anthology.
Speaking of which, we’re not as big as a chicken-

processing lobby, nor our players as emboldened
as enthusiasts visiting Comic-Con. But we’re full of deviance
and underground custom, perfectly respectable as a cult:
religious, novel, obsessively durable.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 24, 2014)

A few nights ago my parents and I watched an HBO movie called “Phil Spector” starring Helen Mirren, (did you know she’s the same age as Cher?), Al Pacino, (in one of his best performances IMHO), and Jeffrey Tambor, (for those fans of “The Larry Sanders Show,” “Arrested Development” and, if you’re old enough, latter-day “Three’s Company”).

The moral of Spector’s involvement in the Lana Clarkson death-story can be read as “appearances are deceptive.”

Being beautiful, being rich, being happy.

The moral of this HBO movie could be read as movies themselves are deceptive. The HBO narrative tried to tell a story about how to tell a story about reasonable doubt. The movie itself left out some pretty pertinent facts about the case, such facts as Spector’s defense team might have left out, facts that may have been used to convict Spector later on… in the part of the story the HBO movie did not tell.

Facts around the periphery and facts mingling in the mix.

(The ****** towel in the bathroom, evidence of attempts made to clean up the scene, incriminating language said to a driver and then later during questioning by police.)

Shaky, addled hands can make mistakes. But then, appearances are deceptive.

Then there was the doubt, somewhat reasonable, a kind of doubt that hovers around the line, quavering, moving both ways.

Experience would indicate that sometimes barking dogs do bite. The headless and the dog-bitten will tell you that. The infamous Wall-of-Sound gun-pointer. The boy who cries wolf often finds himself in a pickle. Or a prison.

See? I use my experience to argue a point, to “sway the jury,” in another words to “deceive.”

Reconstructions are stories are usually deceptive.

A bullet in the mouth is less so.

Whether Phil Spector murdered Lana Clarkson—that is neither here nor there. A story will not tell you that.

So then what will?
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 13, 2014)

Time flies around a storybook story.
After storytime, it’s time to go to sleep.
After sleep, tomorrow begins another story.
Inside the storybook, every picture tells a story.
Not everybody agrees what that story is.
Narrative is just an illusion anyway,
One made necessary for the operation
Of storybooks, some with only pictures telling
Stories, some with impossible surmising captions.
First think, then speak. Unless you don’t believe
In talking bears or thneeds. When you grow up,
Narratively speaking, you should grow out the-need
To believe in a happy end-middle-beginning.
You should rip up every page in the storybook
And throw its pieces up into the air.
The interesting story is how it all falls down.
First things first. Why does this always feel
Like the ruse of 52-card pickup?
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 16, 2014)

Words sink into the mud
Lonesome sounds caves cannot ear
Memory sinking
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 5, 2014)

There are theories about skin cells and exfoliation.
There are theories about heart veins and salt.
There are theories about caffeine and butter and nightshades.
There are theories about wine, an apple a day.
There are theories about the brain and biofeedback.
There are theories about feet and reflexology.
There are theories about the alignment of the skeleton.
There are theories about massage, God, and voodoo.
There are theories about how to raise children and cats.
There are theories about pantsuits.
There are theories about autism and the stock market.
There are theories about the metabolism and gain without pain.
There are theories about bathing and the Brussels sprout.
There are theories about jazz.
There are theories about the method.
There are theories about biographies and metaphor.
There are theories about the histories of history.
There are theories about watercolors.
There are theories about poetry
and there are poetry theories.
And then there’s Chinese medicine.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 23, 2014)

Every bird loves to hear himself sing:
poet as broken sparrow full of pitiful sorrow;
poet as proud cardinal, tight and righteous;
poet as bald eagle, impractically clichéd;
poet as California Condor unable to land;
poet as grouse (formal grouse, lyric grouse, the avant-garde);
poet as vulture feeding on the system;
poet as parrot squawking down the red carpet;
poet as crow, loudly erroneous;
poet as warbler, precise, lilting and endangered;
poet as the high-necked goose, ugly, deluded;
poets of the weather describing the heather,
birds of a feather endorsing each other.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 17, 2014)

Someday I will say
remember when my parents came to visit us in New Mexico
and I made soup every supper for two fortnights?
Heartache in the belly.

A poem is a rubber stamp on what
we have exhumed and presumed
of shadows passing through.
So I can say I own this.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 29, 2014)

There is no honor among words
but they are criminally necessary.

Fools rush the line
where auteurs fear to tread.

He who hesitates writes haiku—believing
description is the better part of valor.

Thieves will tell you no news is good news
because most con men are theorists,

stealing us up, ransacking testimonies.
They have left us only fears.

And fear of the word cliché
is worse than the cliché itself.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 28, 2014)

It takes 2 to tango
1 to lead and 1 to twirl
1 to catch the falling

U the crazy and U the sane—
who teaches whom?

It takes 2 to tango, 2 to waltz
getting nowhere

It takes at least 2
to do the Boot Scootin’ Boogie
they are frayed around the edges
but done 4
the energy discharged
by those many arms and legs

Jazz hands!

2 heads R better
4 eyes R better
4 feet R better
to read with than one

more emoting, more plummeting,
more butter in the cookie

weak link in the telephone game
ineffectual spy
gumshoe detective

Jazz hands!

bygones are never bitter
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 25, 2014)

Walls have ears.
Read your poems to the walls.
The hills have eyes
and study manifestos over your head.
The trees are not poets
but let them have their say.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 27, 2014)

Live and receive
the past’s mistakes,
errors in trench coats,
the false face of experience.
She is the best pontificator.

Failure teaches, most often,
envy. Gertrude Stein teaches
that Gertrude Stein teaches
despite herself. She is the mother
of the wisdom

We are experience
and we drop a dime
every time.
We share. We don’t share.
We give every ingredient of the recipe
but one. And still sometimes,
the soufflé is a success.
This teaches miracles.

Empathy is learned
when one is thrown
into the hole.
But keep your sentiment
in little wire cages and tear-
drop the ink of mascara
into its eye. What
have we learned?

Authority is useless
as permission.
Don’t I say so?
She more helpfully gives
able help: the sermon,
the tutor, the backdoor
confidant, intervention
into the mess of struggle.

It’s never too late
to learn the cliff is a cliff
and the ground is the ground,
to be spared experience.
It’s never too late to accept
a tender mercy.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 30, 2014)

Poetry up all night
unwrapping gifts,
a marathon of unwrapping,
unfolding, untaping,
dodging the gaps
or the bonds
(as is your temper)
over this whole box.
Feline curiosity,
don't count your chickens yet.
Chickens! Don’t you know
money is everything.
Motivates everything.
This even when
the best things in life
are these unwrapping
moments with our feline hands.
The more that come—
come with a fine price,
that long-short day of joy.
Cool little cat,
Christmas comes only once.
That is the day all the best
of friends must embrace and say
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 15, 2014)

parentals in town
can't say what I have to say
for the next 12 days
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 6, 2014)

Brevity, loose, Hemingway, Proust
All roads lead to Rome
Except those roads leading out of Rome

Frosted chamisa, Mother Teresa
All that glitters is not gold
Except gold can usually buy most of what glitters

Tenured by kings, a sailing ember
When you’re hot you’re hot
When you’re not—you rot.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 9, 2014)

Who is this who holds the pen?
Who feels the hurt as I scratch the wood?
What is my tale but society’s tale?
What is my ego but the eye of the universe?
Fractured, unglued, a skin made of sponge,
I am not who I think I am and so I evaporate
into the infinite me, some which are you.
This may be true, but it’s better the devil
you know than the devils you don’t.

Self-portrait of my DNA, fluted nameplate,
a word that means me swirling in another language.
Who tells the reader about the bloodless me?
Who tells the reader my soul is meshed into their soul?
Who receives the feeling? Who tells the reader in me?
Who did not decide to write this?
Dear my different me-s, my lovely, distracted plural,
this is how they come to power, they who are not you,
this is how they divide (the me) and conquer.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 21, 2014)

She was offended by the Day of the Dead;
she was offended by the night of the crystals;
she was offended by Henry Rollins;
she was offended by an old man in our office;
she was offended by the waiter and Shannon;
she was offended by the idea of homosexuality
as anything but a lifestyle choice;
she was offended we didn’t agree;
she was offended by Cher in a sari
but not Cher in a war bonnet;
she was offended we didn’t like the President;
she was offended by the kids from her old high school;
she was offended by parking restrictions;
she would be offended I’m telling you this now
although she discarded items from aisle four into the shelves of aisle six
making the claim she was giving the little people job security;
even though she said, because I was robbed, my peoples
were low-rent peoples. This all begs the question
as to why she does not do unto others inoffensively.
Meanwhile, we each lay in the trenches of our sensibilities.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 4, 2014)

Intellect before beauty.
Business before pleasure,
unless intellect is beauty.
Who is to say
in the business of pleasure?
To say what a cottonwood stands for.
It stands to reason.
It stands to shade.
It stands to hold the opportunity
of end tables and envelopes.
Even a tree is a recycled tree
made to hang recycled wind and snow.
Progress always involves retrograde.
Garbage in, shiny new plastic item out.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 14, 2014)

Set to work, love to sweat,
but not be made to sweat.
All work and no play
make you an American
bore; but likewise
as you make your bed,
as you sow,
as you lay your mine(s)…
Everything’s easier said
than done. Everything.
Easier to start.
Easier to be in it.
Easier to be done.
Easier to steal the doing
of someone else
through theft or pittance
or always asking for help
under the name of creation,
genius, destiny. Preaching trolls,
delegating, obfuscating Faith
never moved a single mountain.

Do it yourself.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 1, 2014)

It depends upon what the definition of is is:
it being life’s legal outcomes,
is being the eternal present
or eternity.
To be or not to be:
Billy, you need to rewrite
with more specificity:
to self-actualize or not to self-actualize,
to exist or not to exist:
that is the question
if the question is
living the question
or if it means disrupting pre-
destiny. Language drunk
with the spirit of spirituality,
what we say say say
is imbued with what is.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 19, 2014)

Not the fog of memory,
the fog of a fugitive concentration.
Letting go of the handrail
and wandering in the bosque.
There is no memory there.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 20, 2014)

The Easter egg holds
fish eyes in the velvet river,
the cries of ghost birds
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 18, 2014)

Except it’s a bona fide,
genuine real porch:
and you’re sittin’ in chair,
really sittin’ in one that leans back,
sun catching only your feet
as you drift into a warm listening sleep,
while the old relatives
turn over all the times and folks
you haven’t known, folks who lived
back when you didn’t exist
(in any poem-writing form).
They are wearing out the years,
and are eloquently silent about the future,
except they know all the poems
you have left to write.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 3, 2014)

The journey of a thousand miles begins
with one small word,
a word that is not une pipe,
a word that it takes more than effort—
mere focus—to incorporate back into the journey,
a word that requires exercise, sweating
over the assembly of combinations and clues,
yoga stretching over accidental and malicious gaps,
a word strung into licorice, chopped, blocked
and set into rows,

the journey of a thousand letters
carved and installed like a Michelangelo
in front of your neighbor’s house,
the doorbell rung, tie straightened,
hat in hand:

“Can I help you?”
“A poem in time saves nine.”
“Sorry but I gave at the office.”

It’s a long haul, this journey.
Everything’s a commodity or a charity
these days, even for you, Truthie Ruthie,
who will write 3 lines to change the world
or the art—as soon as you can find your pens.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 2, 2014)

God couldn’t be everywhere so he invented…
old-testament guilt, judgment. Surrogate mothers,
an imperfect second to ever-presence.

He is mysterious, withholding.
She is threatening to write
daily—manifestos, depositions,
your biography, threatening
the tell-all proverb.

Sentimental menace, righteous and verbose
with her Saran Wrap of affection.
She is threatening to love and to be loved.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 22, 2014)

I remember the story because I was agitated,
perturbed to hear grandma would return and visit

Aunt Edna beside her hospital bed and not us,
say to Edna it was okay to pass on and not us.

That’s how I know somebody told me the story.
Why would I make it up?

I never thought about Edna in the hospital
or grandma coming back.

There was a splinter of feeling forsaken there,
whether grandma was a ghost or a delirium,

we were missing out. What does it matter
if it was true or untrue, whether you believe in ghosts?

Every family has its skeleton;
why shouldn’t we have ours.

No bank robbers, no moonshiners,
and now no ghosts.  They say

dead men tell no tales, except they do.
They tell their tales through us.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 26, 2014)

The more one knows, the less one believes;
He who knows nothing, doubts nothing:
theoretical aphorism, deliverance in the dictum.

This week my father fixed our sliding glass door.
We had no oil for the dried out runners.
He used an anti-stick, cooking spray instead.

His idea was a tango: part knowledge
and part belief. You use what you can
to make the door open or close.

Trillions of videos on the Internet,
tutorials and poems
to step-by-step you through.

Has it all been said, though?
Has too much been said?
Can you never say enough—

trying to make the parts work
between the known and the unknown?
You believe in words

like canola, the oil that keeps us together
and keeps us apart. The doors stick
halfway open and halfway closed.

Trillions of ideas to nudge us north or south.
Knowledge is power and yet you yield to belief.
What you don’t know can’t outsmart you.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 7, 2014)

What a rolling stone gathers
you don’t want—mold and must.
So you stay out in the ether,
saying but not staying,
smoothed-over in your always moving.
You don’t stick around. Never complain;
never explain; never define.
Clauses are dependencies.
Flourishes are trimmings
for the house proud.
You are eternally new,
flexible in obtuseness
and obscurities. Far from the sink-
hole of being obliged.

Those who stick around a movement,
those who pledge a bit of future
to another know the sticky intimacy.
Skin to skin, they commit to paper
what they are saying,
stand on the square, stay to debate.
Committed to all ears,
eyes, hands, and souls—
as comes rolling by,
having gathered nothing,
the bad penny that inevitably turns up.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 11, 2014)

A woman’s place, a woman’s work, how actions speak
like some loudmouth authority week after week—
Who are you to say? Who am I to say
for what April showers bring but a bathroom leak?

One can only pose a think
when assertions are the weakest link
until you’re assaulted down that random alley
and assurance is a tether against the teetering brink.

May I state with some authority besides,
there is no safety in queries either.
To sugar come the flies.
To questions come the lies.
Mary McCray Apr 2014
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 10, 2014)

During dinner, while the noise of too many swimmers
deafens Mr. Kingfish, he says to his wife, Mrs. Kingfish,
“This is what happens when too many so-called ‘swimmers’
dilute the souk and gum up the lake.”

Mr. and Mrs. Kingfish dine on minnows
as she concurs, “You question their legitimacy, dear.”
“Yes I do!” “You question what swimming is
if everyone tries to do it?—

who is allowed, what value is added
by all these new “swimmers” swimming through.”
“Yes, that is what I’m saying: don’t go near the water,
until you learn how to swim!”

“They’re bottom-feeders ruining everything,”
decides Mr. Kingfish. His wife squeezes his arm
and says, “Then let’s get small, dear.
There’s entirely too much swimming going on all around.”

“We need gatekeepers, tighter schools,” cries Mr. Kingfish,
“or we’ll all suffocate!” Spitting out tiny fish heads in the sand,
Mrs. Kingfish assures her husband, “All will be well that ends well.
But I do wonder, love, what about the turning tide?”
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 20, 2015)

The tendency to give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of your personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for you, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. For example, horoscopes.

P.T. Barmum’s boxcar of fortune tellers, religions and personality tests
predict I may be inadvertently pressuring someone.
I may be inadvertently over-extended. I need to be proactive
and not be proactive in taking on more than I can handle.
However, the sun is in my Professional house
which may affect my relationships. I blame this on my Gemini.

People suspect he’s holding out on them.
(That would be me.)
His problem will continue if he continues to stonewall.
(That’s right.)
If he throws someone a bone, that will buy him sometime.

Nothing is any good in the long run.
Something is always changing.
You never give yourself credit for being specific enough.
Based on my horoscopes today from SF Gate and Huffington Post (Women's section)
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:
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 15, 2015)

Based on the estimates, real-world evidence turns out to be less extreme than our expectations.

We never find werewolves
where werewolves meet
or correctly gauge the collapse
of collapsible things.
Monsters in the cellar
rifling through our things.
The big boom— cringe and tuck,
and one-eyed peek.
Cycles of melodrama and hyperbole—
Utopia, a big tax return,
the end of days.

Scanning the glut of galaxies
no one is scanning back.
We inhale this universe
alone, merely getting by.
And then a gray whale
sets a world record
for a migrating distance.
And such things are set
by increment,
by step. Was our whale

looking for alien whales?
Worried about the judgment
and collapse? Or manhandled
deep-sea paraphernalia?
A whale is just
relocating to evade the mass
of oceanic trash.

Artfully thinking
Huff Post reports today that both that a gray whale set a migrating record and scientists scanned 100,000 galaxies and found no signs of life.
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 7, 2015)

Limits a person to using an object only in a way it is traditionally used.

In one hotel, two kids climb over a triangle
of lobby couches. Their father grips a shoulder
in an argument of parenting and says,
“Use things for their intended purpose!”
A reasonable idea but in retrospect
it depends on how you look at the thing,
directly on or akimbo.  

The father scowls at me as if to say
Don’t be that guy, the one who sees
a rowboat, a vertical slice of bus,
the basket for an air balloon,
a trampoline when the cushions are off,
mountain range for little figurines lost in the snow,
an architectural element of a tent city,
multi-purpose home base,
a landing pad for the dizzy spinners,  
a secretarial desk, a dog bed,
a nap bed, a make-out bed, a death bed,
a kiosk to display collections of items,
a staging area, a folding spot,
the place where one sits difficult relatives,
the dais where Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane makes a stand
in Dukes of Hazzard reenactments,
a pew, a sanctuary, a habit, a place of soliloquy,
a place of meditation, a place of revelation,
yard sale seating, lawn trash down by the road,
a bird’s nest, a rain gauge,
a place to sit.
James Best, the sheriff of *The Dukes of Hazzard,* has passed away at 88.
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 19, 2015)

Sometimes called the “I-knew-it-all-along” effect, the tendency to see past events as being predictable at the time those events happened.

Today—no question what we would talk about:
L’entrée de Barry Manilow, or as the French say,
Faire son coming out, as if homosexualité

was Americain. You know, like the French
used to say making love in the English way
while the English were saying making love

in the French way. Meanwhile my own closet
of 33 rpms and fan-club letters and all those
barroom assertions. Is he? Isn’t he?

What is the nature of his love? So benevolent
to his fans, surprising them at the piano
of their houses, the spotlight of polite

amid rock and roll infamy. This hindsight
bias is tricky: "At the time." Since when?
Every moment to the now we speak of it.

The was that made the is to be: we will argue this
to our thrones. Like literary ironies of thigh master,
controversial poet of the bedroom farce,

Krissy Snow and her gentle flurry of confession.
Zaftig fans with their quinquagenarian chest pains.
Fantasy is always predictable. It never was.

They are screaming like Beatlemaniacs.
The happy hour question left for us now:
What is the nature of their love?
Huff Post reported that Barry Manilow was outed yesterday by his friend Suzanne Somers.
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 16, 2015)

The fallacious belief that a person who has experienced success has a greater chance of further success in additional attempts.

The major award, a crest of Likes, the very nice email
you received from someone in South Dakota, the flatterer—
like a stack of very deceptive poker chips
leaning like the Tower of Pisa.

The universe should open up like show curtains
with three hundred and fifty new friends awaiting you
all dressed to the nines which could mean you’re moving up
in this world except you’re not because there’s no where to move.

It’s like walking across a cemetery. You go up and down,
up and down depending upon how the dead sink into the loam.
Harrison Ford’s still auditioning; Aaron Spelling never stopped pitching.
One minute you’re a rock star, the next minute your tour bus catches on fire.

Tomorrow you are always climbing out of
old hat, new and untested. Turns out
those are the same thing.
How lucky for you.
Today Lady Antebellum tour bus caught on fire.
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 8, 2015)

Overestimating one’s desirable qualities, and underestimating undesirable qualities, relative to other people. (Also known as “Lake Wobegon effect,” better-than-average effect,” or “superiority bias”).

The case of Cyberface, the idea of you,
selfies with Kardashian and Kayne

settling the score with paparazzi
front of the line, past the line, whisked

your journals and micro-journals
pieces of flesh, phantoms

publicity is the new city
smiling Joker, the Hollywood real,

the need to be the great American novel
“special” on the bib under baby’s puke

the chord of horror at confession:
You Are Average

ruins so fierce it makes your eye twitch
ashes so raw you believe in miracles

more than you believe in yourself
and your lovely, opening ordinary.
Kayne West just settled a suit for assaulting paparazzi. In related news there’s a $20 new version of the Bible replacing every mention of God with Kanye West.
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, ******, 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:
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 13, 2015)

The tendency for people to want to believe that the world is fundamentally just, causing them to rationalize an otherwise inexplicable injustice as deserved by the victims.

All is fair in love and war and making excuses
for your team. But there is no such evildoings
for our guy, our statesman and quarterback
who wears red and blue, for whom no bell tolls.

Winning trumps offering and the ends justify
what we need them to justify. We rally
on consecrated field, behind the hallowed squad
of our heroic puffery.  In World War II,

my young great uncle was finished
by a German ******, himself  a hero
to his team. Propaganda is only something
the Other one does, those cheaters at chess

sneaking plays in dark corners. Not us;
we win justly, thanking our Gods. The losers
starving, ignored, burned alive
like the lot of the poets.
Georgian chess star Gaioz Nigalidza was caught cheating during his recent match, sneaking off the to bathroom to run a chess app from a smart phone stuck hidden in a roll of toilet paper.
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 14, 2015)

Memory distortions introduced by the loss of details in a recollection over time, often concurrent with sharpening or selective recollection of certain details that take on exaggerated significance in relation to the details or aspects of the experience lost through leveling. Both biases may be reinforced over time, and by repeated recollection or re-telling of a memory.

So I’m upset, you see, sitting in a canary yellow truck
back in Harding County 1976. The boys have gone off
in search of cows. I can’t leave because they’ve told me
the yellow truck is surrounded by rattlesnakes.  

So much as my toe won’t hit the prairie. And truly,
I can’t remember anything beyond the truck.
The land is flat for sure but I can’t see the windmill
or the water tank. The earth has all but lost its load of folks.

There’s only the yellow truck, the long clutch, and those *******,
the snakes. There’s only the manipulations of boys
gleefully trotting the plains with their chauvinisms.
The flat ocean of grass and my yellow pitching vessel.

So I take out imagination like a newfangled photo editor.
I want to exit the truck for a minute and put a cow
on the scene. But I worry about those snakes.
If I place a scrub bush here, the snakes might opt for some shade.

I bring the cow back but I want a happy cow,
not a suspicious cow or a jaded cow.
Luckily I find an article online that seems useful,
“16 Signs to Access Whether Your Cows are Happy.”

According to FarmersWeekly my cow’s happiness
involves muck sieving and rumen fill. It says nothing
about California which hitherto I’ve been told
makes cows happy. Strangely I’m feeling better.
"16 signs to assess whether your cows are happy" Farmers Weekly Reporters, Tuesday 14 April 2015 (
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 17, 2015)

A vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) is perceived as significant, e.g., seeing images of animals or faced in clouds, the man on the moon, and hearing non-existant hidden messages on records played in reverse.

Mysticism is felt in the heart muscle, rustles
where no feelings truly exist. What exists
of the dead voice hollering on the recording? Ordering
the apparition’s dances under the light beam. What seems
like God is deep in the conspiracy, the marvelous irony
of mirage. Brain eats signs; feet seek sense, pearl innocence.
The ghost is the illusionist, an enthusiast
who will never reveal his true forming mist. What exists?
But in the center of the sit-and-spin, you sit within
the vault of kaleidoscope pointers, confusing spoilers.
When you cannot stand you will understand
the significance of the word shaper…who waivers.
UK tabloid the Daily Mirror reports ghost video footage from a restaurant in Leeds called Get Baked;
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 18, 2015)

Rhyming statements are perceived as more truthful. A famous example being used in the O.J. Simpson trial with the defense’s use of the phrase, “If the gloves don’t fit, then you must acquit.”

The carriage of craft glitters in meaning
provide there’s a meter we can sing to the ceiling.

When cooperative verses are ******* and buckled
our sense, intelligence will never be cuckold.

Music mechanics bestow faith in the word
whenever rotten fish cannot smell the ****.
Today on YouTube, muppet Elmo encourages all kids (and muppets) to get vaccinations. (Doing said without rhyming).
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. (
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 21, 2015)

Bizarre material is better remembered than common material.

That items near the end of a sequence are the easiest to recall, followed by the items at the beginning of a sequence; items in the middle are the least likely to be remembered.

The remotest Bigfoot is the easiest to believe.

Today, search for the Lock Ness monster yourself with Google’s underwater Street View.

The easy truth is hard to believe.
Today, google's logo honors "Looking for Nessie for 81 years" and allows you to search the lake on street view:,-4.440336,3a,75y,250.02h,86.92t/data=!3m5!1e1!3m3!1sOPqFRY1JOXUAAAQfDRcs3A!2e0!3e2
Mary McCray Apr 2015
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 1, 2015)

To search for, interpret, focus on, or remember only information that confirms your preconceptions.

The solipsismal cataract, a knotted bog of shelter,
sortings of the world floating in translucent drops,
validations dissolving through your skin like
evangelical fumes: what you remember is the red flag,
the red vase, the ironic rose—because red is the mast and mascot
of your soul. Your own blushing village of Versailles—
built to suit your towering, powdered wigs. The brain works
if the ego allows. Go to the Grotto, Marie,

and listen to the flaxen minstrel,  speaker for the wise
old catfish. She is sitting to catch her breath, strumming
her catgut and similes as you stand inhaling the darkness,
remembering each side of a cloud and lampshades
on the heads of beautiful things. She brings you visions
of Wurlitzers  and coffee percolators,  things you wouldn’t know
how to look for if you’re looking too hard.  Remember your reds
until they fade away into the black of the grotto.

Come back out and try again.
30 Poems About Suffering will be based on the list of cognitive biases found on Wikipedia coupled with my mindfulness practice. I’m going to try to do an initial “bias” stanza and following it with a “mindfulness antidote” stanza.  I’m going to try to throw in something from today’s news to show the daily-ness of these (which today is the news of Joni Mitchell in the hospital).
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