Where do the people in my dreams come from?

March 22, 2023

Where do the people in my dreams come from?
Do they have occupations
In their dreamy dreamy lives?
Do they wake up in the morning
And kiss their dreamy wives?

Where do the people in my dreams come from?
Do they inhabit other people’s dreams
Or only visit mine?
Do they all hang out together?
Do they live in space and time?

Where do the people in my dreams come from?
Do they exist in dimensions
That humans cannot see?
Do they go to bed at night
And dream about me?

by Richard W. Bray

it only takes you

March 15, 2023

it only takes you
to open up the door
you wash away the blue
you refresh and you restore

it only took you
to melt my frozen heart
you fix me just like glue
when I’m falling apart

In a cold and bitter world 
You’re a special kind of girl

it only takes you
to turn blizzards into fire
doo be doo be doo be doo
there ain’t no way to get higher

it only takes you
to right me when I’m wrong
if the world disappears
there will still be your song

by Richard W. Bray

the quiet of the sky

January 21, 2023

The quiet of the sky
The passion of the trees
The wisdom of the rocks
Educating me

Unremembered kindness
Murmurs in the breeze
The wonders of a world
That willed itself to be

Experience the grandeur
Of a world that isn’t clean
Open up your senses
Pull away from the screen

by Richard W. Bray

Patrick J. Projection

December 17, 2022

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.Carl Jung

Patrick’s always talking
About everybody else
He doesn’t even know 
He’s just talking about himself

"Two-faced Tommy
Is such a stupid clown
Always talking trash
When people aren’t around"

Patrick’s always talking
About everybody else
He doesn’t even know 
He’s just talking about himself

"Albert's so angry
Screaming all day
It makes my blood boil
When he acts that way"

Patrick’s always talking
About everybody else
He doesn’t even know 
He’s just talking about himself

“Walter’s such a drunk
He’ll never get it right
Always at the bar
I see him every night”

Patrick’s always talking
About everybody else
He doesn’t even know 
He’s just talking about himself

“Heather’s so jealous
She’s bitter and cruel
If I had all her privileges 
I wouldn’t be such a fool”

Patrick’s always talking
About everybody else
He doesn’t even know 
He’s just talking about himself

by Richard W. Bray

wonder is good enough for me

November 18, 2022

What holds all the molecules together?
Was there a beginning of time?
Does space go on forever?
What makes you so clever?
Is there any reason in my rhyme?

I wonder about everything I see
Who made all the tygers and the trees?
I wonder why I met you
And what you’re gonna do
Wonder is good enough for me

I wonder about things I’ll never know
I wonder if our love is gonna grow
What’s inside the sun?
The biggest number plus one?
Wonder is good enough for me

by Richard W. Bray

Distinctive Makes a Difference

July 10, 2022


A Thousand Songs in My Pocket

I remember thinking I was the coolest guy in the world when I took my iPod to the gym. It’s funny because I’m not an early adopter and I’ve never really been into gadgets. But I got my first iPod about a year after they came out, and I can’t think of anything I ever bought that made me feel so good. 

Effective advertising tells people how your product is going to solve their problem. My iPod solved a problem I didn’t even know I had. I needed a device smaller than a Sony Diskman that could hold my entire CD collection. And there it was. 

“A thousand songs in your pocket” was the perfect slogan, even though an iPod actually holds a lot more songs than that. A thousand songs on one device sounded pretty miraculous at the time, and the slogan flows really well. (Like all forms of writing, copywriting is essentially poetry.)

Selling Joy

Byron Sharp* notes that the iPod advertising campaign “did not mention the term ‘MP3 player.’” In fact, “their advertising didn’t talk about this new technology at all.” 

Instead of selling new technology, Apple was selling joy. As Sharp explains, the iPod advertising campaign 

always employed the same silhouette figures against colourful backgrounds and these figures were always joyfully dancing (while listening to their iPods) and the white headphones were always obvious. Technical details were left to sales people and web sites to explain.

Carbonated Cough Syrup


A lot of people are willing to pay three times as much for an 8-ounce can of Red Bull than they would for a 12-ounce can of soda. But when it comes to ingredients, the only real difference is that Red Bull has a lot more caffeine and a smidgen of Vitamin B. 

So how did Red Bull convince so many people to pay so much more for a beverage that tastes like carbonated cough syrup?

The obvious is answer marketing, which is the art of convincing people to buy things. One of the most effective ways to convince people to buy things is by appealing to their internal narrative, which is the story everyone tells themself about who they are.

According to Seth Godin**, “our actions are primarily driven by one question: ‘Do people like me like things like this?’” If you align your product with the customer’s internal narrative, you can make oodles of money.

To align their product with the internal narratives of millions of customers, Red Bull spends billions of dollars in advertising every year, creating the perception that people who drink Red Bull are:

  • Young
  • Healthy
  • Athletic
  • Male
  • Carefree
  • Adventurous

Different Can, Different Product

People drink Red Bull to get amped up on caffeine. But Red Bull had to convince customers that they weren’t just buying a new type of hyper-caffeinated soda. Instead, Red Bull sells people a whole new lifestyle.

By making the can so distinctive, Red Bull creates the perception that it’s a totally different type of product. 

Rory Sutherland*** of Ogilvy & Mather Group explains: 

How can Red Bull charge £1.50 a can when Coke only charge 50p? Weirdly you make the can smaller. Suddenly people think this is a different category of drink for which different price points apply. If the can had been the same size, I am not sure they could have charged £1.50. Logic won’t tell you that and research won’t tell you, because in research we all pretend we are maximisers and hyper-rational.

by Richard W. Bray

* How Brands Grow, p142

* *This Is Marketing, p104

***Quoted in The Choice Factory by Richard Shotten, p67

the space between

May 18, 2022

Time was somewhere else
In a universe of two
Bewitched and bedazzled
There was only you

The light, the air
The space between
Charged by the sparks
That cannot be seen

Colors overflow
Molecules conspire
Angels hold their breath
And stop to admire

The light, the air
The space between
Charged by the sparks
That cannot be seen

by Richard W. Bray

The things of this world

February 11, 2022

Wake and rise
Live aware
Hunks of matter
Dance in air

Raise your arms
Plant your toes
Release your body 
Mix your soul

Get outdoors
Touch some dirt
Smell the sky
And live the hurt

by Richard W. Bray

the love of a child

July 17, 2021

unruly, rambunctious, exhausting and wild
there’s no greater love than the love of a child

boundless, colossal, extending for miles
there is no restraining the love of a child

needy and hopeful, touching and mild
the heaviest burden, the love of a child

investing your marrow, refunded in smiles
there’s no greater love than the love of a child

by Richard W. Bray

The Sparkle in My Dreams

June 6, 2021

I'm at the tip of the top
There's a pep in my step
I got the hippity hop
Winning all of my bets

I’m hanging on a hope 
Met a special sort of friend
I’m such a silly old dope
Am I falling again?

Gonna get a new start
I’m so happy I could scream
For the bounce in my heart
And the sparkle in my dreams

I’m hanging on a hope 
Met a special sort of friend
I’m such a silly old dope
Am I falling again?

By Richard W. Bray

Selling Swedish Coffee in the Mail

February 9, 2020

Lester Wunderman

Brand storytelling is about standing for something and striving for excellence in everything your business does. It’s about framing your scarcity and dictating your value.
Bernadette Jiwa, The Fortune Cookie Principle

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

The human mind tells itself stories to make sense out of this crazy old world. We think in narratives. For example, if I told you there were ten thousand orphans created by the latest war, that would upset you. But you would be much more moved by the details of the plight of a single orphan child.

The Father of Direct Marketing

Lester Wunderman was “the first direct marketer ever to be on the senior board of a major (advertising) agency.” He’s often referred to as the Father of Direct Marketing.

Decades before the internet existed, Wunderman envisioned a future where “a better, less time-consuming way of shopping would evolve, and the home would become the shopping center of the future.”

A New Way to Buy Coffee

In 1980, when he was working for Young & Rubicam, Wunderman was convinced he could sell premium Swedish Gevalia coffee by mail, but he faced three significant hurdles:

  1. Getting people to pay a premium price for a brand they’d never heard of
  2. Getting people to buy coffee through the mail
  3. Getting people to believe that great coffee comes from Sweden

Although Y&R’s research showed that Americans enjoyed the taste of Gevalia, Wunderman knew it wasn’t going to be an easy sell.

First of all, there are countries that we naturally associate with coffee – think Brazil, Kenya, Columbia, Italy, or Costa Rica. But Wunderman realized that “No one in America thought of Sweden as a source of great coffee.”

(Actually, the Swedes are crazy about their coffee! Only their Nordic neighbors in Finland drink more coffee than the Swedes. Maybe it’s those long, cold nights.)

Automatic Replenishment

Another problem was getting people to accept a brand new way to buy consumable products. In 1980, Americans weren’t used to receiving packaged goods in their mailboxes.

Wunderman decided he needed a come up with a “new word” to “describe the process of selling something people regularly consumed.” He settled on the phrase “automatic replenishment.” This would allow people to buy a coffee “subscription” so they “would never run out of Gevalia.” It was a very shrewd marketing strategy.

Automatic replenishment is an evocative phrase, and the word replenish contains some very pleasant connotations (refresh, restore, renew). In copywriting, it’s important to remember that the connotations of words trigger all sorts of emotional responses.

The Quest for the Perfect Cup of Coffee

When it came time to write the copy for Gevalia, Wunderman realized that he had to do more than simply choose the right adjectives. Clever advertisers had already sold a lot of coffee by convincing people that it would provide a rich, strong, aromatic, and satisfying experience. These are some wonderful words that convey a sense of wealth, power, comfort, and even a hint of sexual gratification.

It was time to try something else. So Wunderman used storytelling to convince Americans to buy expensive Swedish coffee through the mail. He decided to focus on the tale of Gevalia’s master coffee roaster Victor Engvall and his “obsession with the perfect cup of coffee.”

The Rest of the Story

How did Wunderman do it? To hear rest of the story, see Lester Wunderman’s exceptional memoir Being Direct, Chapter 22.

If you read the whole book, you’ll learn a whole bunch of fascinating stuff: Wunderman’s involvement in the early days of record clubs; how he used catalogues to sell millions of rosebushes; how he helped convince people not to leave home without the American Express Card; how he was courted by the legendary David Oglivy.

Spoiler alert: Wunderman was very impressed by Oglivy, “the best presenter of advertising I had ever seen,” but he decided to merge his firm WRK with Y&R instead.


by Richard W. Bray

i love u like a puppy

February 2, 2019

i need to see you
every day
my insides hurt
when you’re away

i love you like a puppy
i couldn’t love you any more
i just wanna hold you
and curl up on the floor

you melt all my defenses
just by being you
you invigorate my senses
and fill me up with you

i love you like a puppy
i could live inside your gaze
you could make me happy
in a million different ways

by Richard W. Bray

Fancy Land

May 24, 2018

All is grand in Fancy Land
With towering mushrooms growing wild
There’s purple skies that mesmerize
And no one ever hurts a child

The unicorn band in Fancy Land
Plays heavenly tunes with a thundering beat
Wishes are granted and all is enchanted
And everyone has enough to eat

Hate is banned in Fancy Land
Everyone lives how they want to be
An endless sensation of happy creation
Where all the creatures are roaming free

You’re welcome to visit Fancy Land
As long as the magic lives inside you
With access forbid to all but kids
But grownups wanna go there too

by Richard W. Bray

Clichés Don’t Make the World Go Round, but They Can Make Songs Better

September 4, 2017

Ira Gershwin

The Word Mavens Are Wrong

Style guides and writing teachers say we should avoid clichés like the plague. They’re bad, hackneyed, and trite. They say clichés are crutches, used by writers who are too lazy and stupid to think up new ways to say things.

But the experts wrong. Clichés have all sorts of wonderful uses.

Assisting Thought by Evoking a Visual Image

Many clichés are metaphors. According to George Orwell, an effective metaphor “assists thought by evoking a visual image.”

The anti-cliché crowd argues that no matter how strong or evocative a clichéd metaphor might be, its power dwindles with repeated use. But that ain’t necessarily so.

If you say, “Mary is burning the candle at both ends,”  a vivid picture comes to my mind which highlights the possible pitfalls of Mary’s behavior. This is an example of an outstanding metaphor that doesn’t diminish in fortitude no matter how many times you hear it.

The phrase “you’re just putting a band-aid on that problem” is another clichéd metaphor which remains evocative and effective despite repeated use.

These two clichéd metaphors are still effective because, even if we no longer light our houses with candles, candles and bandages are still part of our shared consciousness.

Metaphors—Dead, Alive, and Otherwise

But metaphorical clichés will lose vigor as words go out of fashion.  For example, the expression “hoisted by his own petard” packed a much greater rhetorical punch in an age when people commonly referred to bombs as petards.

Sometimes linguists employ the term “dead metaphor” to describe phrases like “hoisted by his own petard.” They reason that metaphors only remain “alive” as long as we can picture them in our mind’s eye.

But what if I tell you that Larry, who’s a very casual sports fan, just jumped on the Dodgers’ bandwagon? Even if you don’t know that there was a time when politicians actually hired wagons full of musicians to attract voters, it’s still easy to see what this expression means. So, is the bandwagon metaphor, alive, dead or somewhere in between?

Not All Clichés Are Created Equal

Not all clichés are created equal. And the better ones deserve respect.

Of course, many clichéd metaphors are duds. And a bad cliché is about as effective as a screen door on a submarine.

I tell students that the best way to judge the potency of a metaphor is to visualize it. For example, try to visualize yourself “throwing some shade on someone.”

The cliché “throwing shade on someone” means to deprecate a person. It’s a lousy metaphor and it sets my blood to boiling every time I hear it.

On the other hand, when Victor says, “Yo, man. I’d loved to hang out with you guys all day, but I gotta bounce,” he’s employing a marvelously robust metaphor. It tells me that Victor is so active he’s downright kinetic.

Ira Gershwin Defends Clichés

As Ira Gershwin explains in his book Lyrics on Several Occasions, “The literary cliché is an integral part of lyric-writing.”

Sometimes lyricists cleverly rework a familiar cliché into a song. Like when Smokey Robinson says “I’m a choosy beggar, and you’re my choice.” Or when the Temptations sing “Papa was a rolling stone/Wherever he laid his hat was his home.” Or when Paul McCartney asks: “Would you walk away from a fool and his money?” Or when the Who’s Rodger Daltry laments, “I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth.” Or when Ian Hunter complains that love has left him feeling “Once Bitten, Twice shy.”

Gershwin notes that clichés are an essential part of the songwriter’s toolkit because:

The phrase that is trite and worn-out when appearing in print usually becomes, when heard fitted to the appropriate musical turn, revitalized, and seems somehow to revert to its original provocativeness.

Putting Clichés to Good Use

Here are some examples of songwriters putting clichés to good use:

Irving Berlin—I’m Putting all my Eggs in One Basket

Phil Collins—Against All Odd

Gene Autry—Back in the Saddle

Ira Gershwin—Bidin’ my Time

Arthur Hamilton—Cry Me a River

Waldo HolmesDon’t Rock the Boat

Cole Porter— I Get a Kick Out of You

Sammy Cahn—High Hopes

Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong—Heard it Through the Grapevine

Neil Diamond—Love On the Rocks— (Nice pun, Neil)

Robbie Robertson—The Weight (Take a Load off, Annie)

Stevie Wonder—Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours

Al Hoffman and Dick Manning—It Takes Two to Tango

Larry Blackmon and Tomi Jenkins–Word Up

Aaron Schroeder and Wally Gold–It’s Now or Never (Music by Eduardo di Capua)

by Richard W. Bray


April 1, 2017

Moments of sweetness
Moments of you
Memories of wishes
That finally came true

Moments of tender
Moments of pure
Memories drag me
The lovely we were

Moments of sunshine
Moments of you
Memories of stupid
I cannot undo

Moments of happy
Moments of smile
Memories mangle
You walk down the aisle

by Richard W. Bray

goofy in the head

November 16, 2016


I feel my face smiling
All day long
And I can’t stop humming
An old love song

Flowers gonna bloom
The fiddler gets paid
Love is too dizzy
To be afraid

Every step I take
Is a leisurely stroll
And my head is all full
Of Nat King Cole

Flowers gonna bloom
The fiddler gets paid
Love is too dizzy
To be afraid

I’m probably crazy
In this melancholy world
Cuz I’m goofy in the head
For a brand new girl

Flowers gonna bloom
The fiddler gets paid
Love is too dizzy
To be afraid

by Richard W. Bray

A Supple Heart

June 12, 2016


I say and do
Has a single

I long to know
The tender soul
That lurks below
The surface

Ramparts guard
A supple heart
Bruised to

Time to go
Cuz she says “No”
And gives no

What I adore
Is nothing more
Than my

by Richard W. Bray

Tell Me Where It Hurts

August 7, 2015


tell me where it hurts
you don’t have to tell me why
maybe you don’t know
don’t be afraid to cry

tell me where it hurts
you don’t need me to reply
i’m just gonna listen
just gonna be nearby

tell me where it hurts
bleed it till it’s dry
i’m not gonna judge you
remember i’m your guy

tell me where it hurts
where it went awry
together we can heal
together we’ll get by

by Richard W. Bray

Best Friend

June 22, 2014


You always listen
To my words
And you never
You’re astute
And self-assured
And wise

When we’re alone
I take solace
And comfort
In your eyes
You’re solid
As a stone
Your presence

We don’t even
Have to talk
I love to
Brush your hair
I love it
When we walk

Thanks for keeping
Me content
And helping
Me survive
Truly heaven-sent
You’re the
Dog alive

by Richard W. Bray

Sorry Love Pain

March 6, 2014


you deserve so much better
   than me
i picked you up and then i
   set you free

there ain’t a thing that i could
   say or do
to make up for the hurt that
   i gave you

i’d live my penance for ten
   thousand years
but i could never pay for
   all your tears

we’ll never resurrect what’s
   dead and gone
i’ll try to be more careful
   from now on

i hope you find a man who
   helps you see
you deserve so much better
   than me

by Richard W. Bray

Alliterative Animal Kingdom

April 8, 2013

download (2)

Round the rampant rugged rocks
Rude and ragged rascals run.

W.H. Auden

Queasy koalas quarrel and quibble
Noisy gnus nag and nibble
Hefty horses heave and hoe
Shameless sheep shop and show

Playful pigs prance and preen
Careful cats cook and clean
Dancing dogs dally and drink
Thirteen thoroughbreds thank and think

Buoyant bunnies broil and bake
Rampant rhinos rush and rake
Slippery seals splash and splish
While wayward weasels wonder and wish

by Richard W. Bray

My Funny Farm

July 13, 2010

Monkey Driver

My Funny Farm

My monkey makes my mother mad
He also aggravates my dad
He took his car the other day
And drove it to the Hudson Bay

My kitty cat is kooky too
He likes to strut down to the zoo
And tell the tigers to all stand back
If they don’t want to get attacked

I have a hamster named Houdini
And though he is rather teeny
He’ll quickly pick a thousand locks
You could not hold him in Fort Knox

My kangaroo’s a real joker
Up all night playing poker
His friends come to destroy the house
I think I shoulda’ got a mouse

I got a hippo last July
He really is one swell guy
Everything he does is super
I got a giant pooper scooper

Living on this funny farm
I know my pets don’t mean no harm
But both my parents moved away
And no one wants to come and play

by Richard W. Bray

How do I Say?

April 29, 2010

How do I Say?

How do I say when it’s over
I meant every word that I said
When the world we knew is dissolving
And the love we shared is dead?

How do I tell you it matters
The joy you brought to my life
When the dreams that we shared are all shattered
And you’ll never be my wife?

How can I tell you I’ll miss you
Every day for as long as I live
When the well that we drank from is empty
And nothing is left to give?

I don’t blame you if you hate me
Cuz’ right now I hate me too
I hate the whole damn world
For what I did to you

I just want to see you happy
But there ain’t nuthin’ I can do
Neither one of us will be happy
Till we get past me and you

Someday when you’re not lonely
Cuz’ you’ve found a better man
I just hope you will remember
When my heart was in your hands

by Richard W. Bray

Sunshine and Happiness

September 25, 2009


Sunshine and Happiness

Melanie Margaret McClintock, The Third
Can’t stand to hear an encouraging word
So if you want to send her away
Here’s a list of words that you can say:

Sunshine and happiness, polka dots and pie
Puppy dogs and moonbeams, a clear blue sky
Friendship and families and root beer floats
Kindness and cleanliness and cozy woolen coats
Flowers and rainbows, warm winter gloves
Freedom and Motherhood, goodness and love
Birthdays and holidays, crunchy candy bars
Bubble baths and babies, twinkling little stars
Fairgrounds and Fridays, fun that’s always funny
Pinballs and pizza, a truck with loads of money
Grandpa and gumballs, a week at summer camp
Barbeques, fresh-cut lawns, a genie in a lamp
A night under the stars and a day at the beach
Everything that’s good and true, all within your reach

But if you are with Melanie, try to be polite
Speak of dark and gloomy days and long, depressing nights
Mention graveyards and garbage and grungy old grime
And the two of you are sure to have such a lovely time

by Richard W. Bray


February 25, 2023

Fill the world with song
Sing until you're silly
Wild and beguiled 
By Roses and Lilys

Stars on Alabama
The way you look tonight
Baby I'm amazed
When you hold me tight

Nobody to see us
Nobody to hear us
Pay no mind to stupid words
With nobody near us

Those ordinary things
That I gotta do
I throw em out the window
To be alone with you

By Richard W. Bray

demon always wins

February 17, 2023

Weak and wounded people
Let the spirits in
Play a demon's game
The demons always win

Entertain a demon
And grovel at its feet
Revel in destruction
And tales of deceit

Spin a tangled web
Stab a thousand backs
Demon grabs your virtue
And eats it like a snack

Dance with the devil
Sing his favorite song
Never ask yourself
Where it went wrong

Do all the things
A demon says to do
And never admit
The demon is you

by Richard W. Bray

meaning, nourishment and truth

February 4, 2023

When your life’s a walking shitshow
And you fill the world with lies
You don’t know why you’re empty
Saying your goodbyes

In a room where you say your name 
And try to tell the truth
Don’t miss out on fellowship
Searching for proof

Alone on a computer
You muffle your cries
As you try to find your truth
In other people’s lives

Searching the whole world
Looking for your purpose
Cast your buckets down
And try to be of service

by Richard W. Bray


January 17, 2023

Everything is broken
It’s about to get worse
I know what’s wrong with everyone
I know just what to do
If I could punch you every moment
Then I could fix you

Everything is broken
So I make my own truth
It isn’t really lying cuz I’m not even there
I know what’s wrong with you
Cuz I live in your head
It isn’t really me sleeping in my bed

Everything is broken
I live outside myself
Reality is bad for my health
No one can handle my sad little poem
A little girl got broken
And she never went home

by Richard W. Bray

the best things

January 14, 2023

choices matter
syllables flatter
promises as empty 
as the wind

broadcast near and far
tell us who you are
fabricate and
fantasize and spin

goodness will not say
what it gives away
treasures more
valuable than gold

love unassailable
beauty unexplainable
the best things
cannot be told

By Richard W. Bray

No turning back

January 7, 2023

The marriage went stale
We lived our separate lives
I had a pocket full of floozies
She slept with some wives

Drinking in a crowd
And laughing way too loud
Ignoring what I lost
Forget about the cost

On a dusty old road
With nothing left to see
I burned down every bridge
From Barstow to Western Tennessee

Drinking in a crowd
And laughing way too loud
Ignoring what I lost
Forget about the cost

I'll buy another round
And cut myself some slack
I'm telling you for sure in this crazy ole world
There ain't no way to turn ever back

Drinking in a crowd
And laughing way too loud
Ignoring what I lost
Forget about the cost

By Richard W. Bray