OH MISS MARY by JIM MCCRARYRICHARD LOPEZ Reviews
Oh Miss Mary by Jim McCrary
(Really Old Gringo Press, Lawrence, KS, 2006)
Never did get into the Larry Brown craze of last year regarding the conspiracy theories of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene marrying and producing offspring. And it's not like I don't dig a good conspiracy theory. We all know that MIBs roam the earth telling the innocent that what they saw on a moonless night was not some UFO but swamp gas and light from the planet Venus. And as for the film The Da Vinci Code the less said about it the better, even though I count myself a fan of Tom Hanks.
Perhaps it's because I grew up catholic that I became allergic to the power of Christian mythos. Whatever. What good did come out of last year's Magdalene fad was the most recent chapbook by Lawrence, KS poet Jim McCrary, Oh Miss Mary (Really Old Gringo Press; 2006). First, a disclaimer since I first read this short collection in manuscript and that I'm named in the book itself as a witness to McCrary's political sensibilities long before the flare-up regarding President Hugo Chavez's remarks at the United Nations about Bush being the devil. I am; and Bush, or to use the marvelous phrase by the late, great Molly Ivins, Shrub, just might be.
Who knows. Strange times we live in. Better still are the poems in this collection. McCrary is famous for self-publishing long before the phrase DIY became the mantra by which many poets preach and practice. This book is no different in that McCrary's minimalist poetics takes the best from Dorn, Weiners, Bromige and a little Creeley and (re)news the art. The gist of the matter is an imagining of Magdalene's hallucinations as she meets Jesus C, and a summoning of her during our present political crises. The phrase "Must be season of the witch" by 1960s singer-songwriter Donovan is one of the epigrams of the book and is used as a constant refrain at the bottom of many of the texts.
McCrary never lets the reader forget Mary's trade. That is how she meets the big guy himself. Being a religious icon does not prevent one from being human. Here in the introduction we learn that Mary even harbors a couple of fetishes.
What really sent Mar into a swoon was dude talking about walking on water during a storm. Whoa!! To someone with a foot fetish to begin
with, this man was saying all the right things.
And off she goes on her adventure and into the pages of one of the greatest texts of all time. Mary's humanity is again detailed by this short poem.
But her hallucinations were very real
And her hair fetish was very real
For over 2000 years her myth lasted. It is a testament to the powers of an excellent poet that we read not a delicate portrait of some divine creature, but an earthy woman of enormous appetite. She is also a political person who comments on our present day troubles. McCrary takes a bit of spit and venom learned from the best of Dorn's writings and crafts powerful poems of damnation. Knowledge, collective and self-, that we are all damned, including Mary, might develop into hope in that we could just survive if we hone our bull-shit detecting skills. Thus this poetry is necessary reading. Take this as an example.
Mary oh Mary
You come back to
The season of the witch
The bitch Bush witch in the white house
Mary oh Mary
"Must be the season of the witch. . . . ."
If we are lucky we get the poetry we need. And this collection by Jim McCrary is just that necessary. I shit you not.
Finally, a word on McCrary's language. McCrary uses a syncopated language based on slang and broken grammar. "Itz za zame ol ztory" is one of many examples of it. These are the tools of, and I don't use this phrase lightly, a master craftsman. These poems are as earthy and desiring as the woman they summon forth. This is how McCrary explains his language:
I don't really write much but write a lot on what I am writing. So, no I am not trying to write a million and I have really only been writing one poem for 40 years. Maybe two or three. Also to Toozer or Collins or Lehman who might consider this 'crap' -- fuck off. It is my only language and I
love it to death and mangle/handle it with loving abuse.
Bug McCrary at his blog smeltmoney.blogspot.com for a copy, or two or three. Yes, do it now!
Richard Lopez's most recent chapbook is Super8 (Superblast! Press; 2006). email him at len200AThotmailDotcom for a copy.