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tearing the rag off the bush again
Twittering the Dead: Advice From Oracles PDF E-mail
Without dying, the closest anyone will ever get to death is life. Life is the first and most important step towards not-life. Too much time has been devoted to learning what's waiting at the end of this corporeal period. Instead, we've reached out to those at the end of the road for guidance in the what about here and how about now of our days. These, our mother poets, birthed us with their songs and even now they have little time, much more work to do. Brilliance in brevity, in walking heavy, packing light: we twitter and they twitter back. This is the digital age for us all.

Poets, with their subversive temperament and low tolerance for the mundane, don't believe questions need answers. Answers are uncertain absolutes, shaky verbs demanding to be nouns. The Inquisitors have stuck their fingers into the Poet Oracles' afterlife pie. Many pointers, the old printer's friend, were lost searching for good-boy plums, many fresh cherries popped scalding those nearby. Poet Oracles say what they mean to say with the words like breadcrumbs they left behind. Insatiably we set out to devour, to leave no morsel or way back (carb-free=zero guilt).

Gods have been known to tear out one of their eyes for wisdom. Here the pupil has reached into the warm face of a poem and torn out the line. Though the body is dead, the head survives. We are the furthest from death in the breath/breadth of poetry. Life is not the end; and even if it were we'd burn it into a new bird, a brighter only child.

(Some of these poets are at a very much alive stage of Oraclehood. This is fine, of course. An American like Steven Spielberg can be knighted by the Queen of England. A poet like Mark Doty need not be a ghost to give wisdom.)

For a list Oracles and Inquistors, click here


A TWITTERING OF POETS
 Active Image
Active ImageWhy do some words make me feel uncomfortable?
 
“Rub her coke.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat should I write about right now?

“The silence”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhy didn’t I talk to my father?

“I suffocate and I write I write/I write to please them”
 Active Image
Active ImageI need an image for a story. Can you give me one?

“Meaningless. The main thing is you’re going to get married.”

Active ImageShould I marry for money?

“To the investigation of the Mercure de France, the Journal des gens de Maison replies with a counter-investigation of employers, and we are told some fine tales!”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat is the worst part about being a woman?

“Because it is foolish.  It is very foolish to be wrong.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat is addiction?

“We shall not all sleep / But we shall be changed”
 Active Image
 Active ImageDo we need both ears?

“It’s easy to wear yourself out when you have central heating.”
 Active Image
Active ImageWhen will the Palestinians have their own State?

“Incontinent the void.  The zenith.  Everything again.  When not night it will / be evening.  Death again of deathless day.  On the one hand embers.  On / the other ashes.  Day without end won and lost.  Unseen.”

 Active Image
 Active ImageWhen will the Palestinians have their own State?

"Yes, but what about us?"
 Active Image
Active ImageI’m afraid I have terrible problems. I can’t say them in public. What should I do?

“Don’t wake the clown / Or he may knock you down.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageHow do you start a holiday?

 “The immaculate / conception/of the inaudible bird / occurs / in gorgeous reticence”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat is there to celebrate?

“for some reason I recollect some tune/a tune like the chain gang sings in the winter a slow blues”

 Active ImageWhere does a poem begin?

“I dreamed that the other one was in the heavens / it was Pluto and I dreamed it before the planet was discovered”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat is the enemy of poetry?

“if you do not carry them within your soul, / if your soul does not raise them up before you.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhen should I give up writing poetry?

“Arise then and go the manifest unanswerable--
Groans”
 Active Image
Active ImageHow do I experience everything?

“Bob Dylan Bob Creeley Bob Rosenthal Bob on Sesame Street. / Oh I can’t think of any other Bobs right now. garbage.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageHow were you able to masturbate after losing your favored arm?

“To me, this gesture excused nothing, and I did not bother to question him about it, for I could not understand this strange moral courage that had made him act in this perverse way…”
 Active Image
 Active ImageDo suicidal people want something other than simply to die?

“We prayed that we would never have / to pray again.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhy do poets visit me in my dreams?

“An unusually handsome lad, a tailor’s employee / (on Sundays an amateur athlete) / stood holding a parcel.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhy does love play games with geography?

“my pussy / is no wussy / or a sissy / don’t you kiss me / on my mouth”

 Active Image
 Active ImageHow can I channel the voice of Frank O’Hara this week?

“Nothing remains after all /  but this ash on the lips / this taste of ash in the mouth / forever”
 Active Image
 Active ImageHow can I channel the voice of Frank O’Hara this weekend?

“Bleed on the windows OK? I need some sleep.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhen have you come closest to meeting the devil?

“A man can only live by absolutely / Forgetting he’s a man like other folk”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat is addiction?

“A riot among friends”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat is Opiate?

“Death & the Arkansas River”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWill I ever finish that long poem about Iraq and Palestine?

“The goddess stands in front of her cave.”
 
Active ImageWhen can I go home?

“There goes another geese on his way home / to death / blam blam”

 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat is the problem with mankind?

“a succession of catastrophes caused by the all too lively participation of the lower classes.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhy do some of your poems turn toward ugliness right at the peak of their lyricism?

“Inside every Rimbaud was a ready-made dead-letter officer. Who really mailed the letter? Who stole the signs?”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhy bother to write poetry?

“Eventually the birds must land.”

 TWITTERING CONTINUES
Active Image
Active ImageI’m having trouble placing a couple of details about the leprosarium--where should I put them?

“There, upon the clay of stones / Memory has deposited / like a shipwreck reddish with pinks / Like an ossuary of loves.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageHow will the day end?

“I don’t know, any more than then, when I used to say, from within, or from without, from the coming night or from under the ground”
 Active Image
 Active ImageHow will the day end?

“A woman’s love / is like / the morning dew / it’s just as apt / to fall on / a radiant horseturd / as on a rose.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageHow healthy will I be in the next four months?

“Madame, I think Monsieur Nijinsky is ill, or perhaps very drunk, for he acts so queerly. His voice is hoarse and his eyes all hazy. I am frightened.”
 Active Image
Active ImageWould it have made any difference?

“The bad smell he smelt was the smell of himself.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhy did you choose Surrealism over Dadaism?

“I will walk naked and carry a cane.”

 Active ImageHow’s the afterlife?

“If your heart says so / we’ll turn on the streetlights / we’ll chit-chat / loving’s not everything / We’ve still got to hang ourselves”
 Active Image
Active Image How should I begin writing about silence?

“Let’s say God in his High Heaven is hungry and has decided to make himself some tuna fish sandwiches. He’s already finished making two of them, on sourdough, before he realizes that the fish is bad. What is he going to do with these sandwiches? They’re already made, but he doesn’t want to eat them.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat was it died in my oven?

“It was like a public execution! Everyone there to witness the slaughter of art and happiness.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageYou think I should get a tattoo?

“and we were already, / in her lyric, contained. / This is what imagination / must do, isn’t it, find a form?”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat should America do with the Guantanamo bay detainees?

“However, is there anything human without imperfection? / And, after all, look, we are going forward.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageDid my father ever love my mother?

“And so always, then the impossibility of my knowing”
 Active Image
 Active ImageDid my father ever love my mother?

“I live there with you”
 Active Image
 Active ImageShould I open that pack of cigarettes I have hidden in the back of the drawer?

“I find it difficult to imagine you / in bed, making love to a woman...”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWill I ever feel well rested again?

“Morrow of a caterpillar in evening dress means: butterfly. / Breast of the crystal means: a decanter.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageIs there intelligent life other than us people?

“I see a narrow strip of darkness there and a little love. And then I see a large T, which means the treachery of a woman.”
 Active Image
Active Image How do we live together? Can we?

"A countryman, who was a witness of the encounter, came to the assistance of the eagle, and succeeded in freeing him from the Serpent and enabling him to escape. In revenge, the Serpent spat some of his poison into the man's drinking-horn."

 Active ImageWhere do babies really come from?

“THE SHE-GOATS having obtained a beard by request to Jupiter”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhere do babies really come from?

“the sofa behind the table.”
 Active Image
Active Image Tell me what you like.

"A temptation any temptation is an exclamation if there are misdeeds and little bones."
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhere should I start?

“It is sometimes possible to put the fallen petal back / On the flower. You can make something be all right again, though / Men, realists, & pessimists may deny this, experience affirms it.”

 Active ImageHow do I talk about her?

“An unreconstructed something or other. If you’re shaking a little / again it’s the kind / Of shaking that keeps you steady.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat about over illness or age?

“TO your blushing we shout the obscenities, we scream the blasphemies that you, being weak, whisper alone in the dark.”
 Active Image
Active ImageI am writing about death.  Frank help.

“You have to remember these are the memories / Of a survivor, you have to remember.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageHow do you vision people?

“How long will my mind remain in this wasteland. / Wherever I turn my eyes, wherever I may look / I see black ruins of life here”
 Active Image
Active Image What should I write about today?

“Monkeys and judges prefer to keep silent.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageHow can I channel O’Hara’s voice?

“I don’t really blame you for being dead but you can’t have your sweater back”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhen?

“a touch of reason:  ‘Why do you ask me? Is it that the level way through the desert is closed?’”
 Active Image
 Active ImageDo we need a revolution?

“She will say that you are abusing her house, she will chase you out, and you will have to go once more and drink alone on the terraces of the cafes”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat is addiction?

“As if wish Evolution, / some esoteric union / of Mission and gin-mill / must breed eventually / someones more amenable / to ecstasy”

Active ImageWhat is Opiate?

“Women in uniform”
 Active Image
Active ImageWhat is Opiate?

“I measure out my life with a steamshovel. / Come dusk I hang 10”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat Cure?

“The Home Movie Of Those Who Are Dead Now”
 Active Image
 Active ImagePoem?  Will it be about the leprosarium?

“The hermit does not expect the Land to emerge from its well without surprise at the appointed / hour of dawn / No.  One day at noon, it will come!”
 Active Image
Active ImagePoem?  Will it be about the leprosarium?

“The public city’s / ledgered and locked, but the secret city’s boundless; / from which do these tumbling towers arise?”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat is DeWitt’s greatest ambition?

“I mean to drift down a river, / sans shirt or shame! To start / fires, count the seconds between / thunder claps!”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWill an MFA kill the poet in me?

“From this it will perhaps be suspected: / that the inversion affected, not the order of the sentences, / but that of words only;”

 Active ImageHow long will Chowder live a happy dog life?

“it seems advisable that the little that is known, on this subject, should be said.”

 Active ImageWill I have children?

“her married life was one long drawnsheet”
 Active Image
 Active ImageHow can we all get famous?

“You saw Courageous Caesar next / You know what he became. / They defied him in his life / Then had him murdered just the same.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageHow do I know if I’m not doing it right?

“if I ever want to part from myself, the exit is on this side and, I add mischievously, the entrance, the re-entrance is on the other.”

  The shape or the hole?

“The elusive angle of a curtain”
 Active Image
Active ImageWhat is great about mankind?

“I am in search of, not the Lion himself”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat is great about mankind?

“In becoming a soldier, her son has not been lost, he is merely in danger.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat’s good about contracts?

“The desire for imaginary benefits often involves the loss of present blessings.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageTell me what I long to hear.

“I love you as a sheriff searches for a walnut / That will solve a murder case unsolved for years.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhy do you write?

“Your book on a hook dangling off the roof / attracted a white horse to the door.”

 Active ImageIs it better to take care of myself?

“Alone, I rush across / raining sidewalks with no umbrella”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat do you have to say about the 2012 prophesies?

 “I saw the red moon too”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat do you have to say about the 2012 prophesies?

 “I’ve got no time to unscrew points, / I’ll just be there Tuesday, that’s all, / and from which direction is anybody’s guess”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat does Christmas mean to you?

“I got good and drunk in the dark”

 Active ImageWhat is left to give?

“What kind of knife are you needing she asked / I’m needing one that’ll touch bottom”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat is left to give?

“the obscene hole people dig when they die.”

Active ImageIf you could fly anywhere, where would you go?

“home drunk and stoned”
 Active Image
 Active ImageThe French Foreign Legion a good option for me after the MFA?

“There we go, bust again”
 Active Image
 Active ImageShould I never have recovered from Mardi Gras?

“you would  / be jolted / if you ever saw  / my dreams”
 Active Image
 Active ImageShould I never have recovered from Mardi Gras?

 “And all around me the words sneak on tiptoe / and stifle me / when I try to catch them. / I cannot kill them / but they’re killing me.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageShould I buy a Sailboat?

“You could have had a pocket / of wolfbane, of gold codpieces, of a / pair of peacock-blue stockings worn by H.D.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhere will the bullet come from?

“The Lion himself”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhere is there to hide?

“Alive and stinking, you mean?”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWho was your first kiss?

“lambs from the neighboring flocks”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat is the best way to relieve awkwardness?

“With a cloudless brightness / Surround our absences”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat is the best way to relieve awkwardness?

“imagine the future / sunlight falls on Paris / I am alone there is no / one whose love is perfect / man has been mad man’s / love is not perfect I”
 Active Image
Active Image How can I open myself up to the ghost transmissions around me?

“We must learn that our lips are not our own. A revolution is a savage education”

 Active ImageHow can the poet separate between his writing and the rest of his life?

[blank page]
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhat makes a long poem long?

“A libation”

Active ImageWhere am I right now?

“NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES / PERMITTED IN THIS PARK / Here that? / DONNA’S PUSSY GOES STRIAGHT / What idiot thought of that?”
 Active Image
 Active ImageAnd what should I tell people when they ask me about my ‘plans’?

“A dancing bear left the village square and went to piss against a wall.”
 Active Image
Active ImageWhoever sleeps with me next is going to get a fuck they don’t deserve. Jeffrey knows what I am talking about, right, Jeffrey?

 “you stuck your tongue out / & I felt infinity / filling my ear / like rock & roll.”
 Active Image
Active ImageWhy don’t I learn?

“The sea cries but the sea soon fades”
 Active Image
 Active ImageHow do Dayflies know they’re dying?

“And when you reach your peak, Caesar at last, / when you take on the form of a famous man / then above all take heed as you go out on the street”

Active ImageWhen am I going to do my taxes cause Cavafy’s poem the “Ides of March” just reminded me?

“Naturally you will speak of his poems-- / but speak of his beauty too, / of his delicate beauty that we loved”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhere will I find comfort?

“When I fought in the war, she fought, when I got up / she got up too, and when I sank / she began to sink with me.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageWhere will I find comfort?

“As for you, the river / that isn’t there is the same one / you could drown in, face down.”
 Active Image
 Active ImageDo you think chimpanzees are manifestations of a supreme creator?

“Yet even then, in that hour of supreme agony, Our Merciful Redeemer had pity for mankind”
 Active Image
 Active ImageIs there any point in sleeping with the girl in the red shirt?

“We have labored for decades for this moment. All it requires now is your co-operation; for sufficient quantities of Tea are not, at this moment in time, available to us”

 Active ImageYes, yes, but will I stumble and fuck her?

“Wittgenstein nodded thoughtfully. It is true, he said, that I have sometimes wished myself to be a member of no nation”
...
The Poets
 
 THE ORACLES
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Aesop
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Yehuda Amichai
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Margaret Atwood
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W. H. Auden
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Samuel Beckett
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Ted Berrigan
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Frank Bidart
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Bertolt Brecht
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Andre Breton
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Ciaran Carson
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C. P. Cavafy
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Blaise Cendrars
Active Image
Mark Doty
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Allen Ginsberg
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Edouard Glissant
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Max Jacob
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James Joyce
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Paul Klee
Active Image
Jennifer Knox
Active Image
Kenneth Koch
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Mina Loy
Active Image
Jeffery Miller
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Alice Notley
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Matthew Rohrer
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Jaroslav Seifert
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Richard Siken
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Philippe Soupault
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Jack Spicer
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Frank Stanford
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Gertrude Stein
Active Image
Diane Wakoski
 
 
 THE INQUISITORS
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Kyle Barnett
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DeWitt Brinson
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Will Burke
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James Claffey
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Mel Coyle 
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Karin deGravelles
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Susan Kirby-Smith
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Ben Lowenkron
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Jenn Nunes
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Kristin Sanders
Active Image
Jordan Soyka

 
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