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Apr 21
(NaPoWriMo Challenge: April 21, 2019)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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