tweet dreams

Sweet noxious fumes seeping from the phantom fuel pump

calmly unplug your computer before the whole network blows up

Urban decay starts with “U”

sometimes with dead leaves and sometimes by thinning

why should I mourn for my people?

Sailing to that chateau on Virginia waters

waiting for the heat to turn into heat lightning

disappearing down the river road

To the end of the nets, where the dead fern grows

but it’s not really Missouri I miss, it’s a twentysomething state of mind

Lost in a Kansas corn maze, and happily so

I hitched my wagon to a star and then my wagon caught on fire

fuel for my ideomotoring

on the fringe of where you want to be

seven-page letters from summer camp

the drunken rain dance I’ve been doing for weeks

The last time Uncle Al held a seance he blew out the windows

stepping out from the wreckage of oak trees and biplanes

a wrought-iron ring of candles aka a candelier

when Ben went to bed he didn’t even bother to turn off the synthesizers

across from the boarded-up cathedral

you gotta be a rich man to afford a po’boy in these parts

driving the wrong way down Cleaver Dos

cultivating subtlety when I should have been screaming

If you get thirsty, I’ll be on the porch.

No point in getting high if you never lay low

John Henry’s not-so great grandson

Throwing frisbees at the harvest moon

you’ve come too far not to go for it now

well I just got to heaven and I got to whoop around

* * *

“I wonder if anyone has ever thought of writing a book made up of their tweets?” Lee asked me the other night. We sipped our drinks for a few moments before I asked a stranger for a mobile device and began clicking through my own tweets, occasionally making small notations on the back of our lengthy bar receipt. The result was this 30-line pastiche of tweet and tweet fragments from the first 99 entries of @Dutchelmdisease (since retired and currently squatted by somebody calling himself The Magician). First coined as the name for a punk band that was never actually started, “Dutch Elm Disease” suggests a sense of powerlessness in the face of decaying nature, and in turn, society. This motif is carried on throughout this collage of twitterature in images of abandonment, migration, disappearance. The narrator appears to be constantly on the move, whether through corn mazes, wagon trails, waterways or doomed air lanes. Aside from a quotation from Chief Seattle and a reference to an early Tyrannosaurus Rex ballad, the poem is composed of entirely original lines examining one’s existence in relation to things and people. The narrator orients by landmarks such as boarded-up cathedrals, backyard candelabras and phantom fuel pumps. Elsewhere the poem carries out a dialogue between an unspecified “I” and “you” in the vein explored by Martin Buber in his essay “Ich und Du.” The oft debated last line reworks the lyrics of a traditional gospel song into a tribute to the Whooping Crane (grus Americana), a near-extinct indigenous species. All that aside, it’s unclear what message the author intended to convey, if any. One thing we can all agree upon is that the streamlined, text-based functionality of the microblogging platform is rife for literary exploration and poetic distillation. Even those using Twitter for more everyday purposes (short reviews of restaurants or films, news updates, links, gripes, nonsense, chit-chat) may discover deeper thematic elements at play in their characters than they might be aware of. To paraphrase Hamlet (whose own distress could be distilled into 140 characters, yet could still count himself king of infinite space), “the poem’s the thing / wherein we’ll catch the conscience of the Tweet.”

One thought on “tweet dreams”

  1. I like the Twitter because it is just unserious enough for someone to allow the odd, self-contained thought to slip from their inner world into the permanent inter-firmament. Yeah. Without judgement, delay, or friction; there it is, that thought you had. The tweets of DED are what make the less odd, more contrived, oft repeated “thoughts” of most tweeters worth scrolling through. For that little hint of wonder, like spotting wildlife in the city night: there…over there! A thought…perhaps incomplete…it’s running now, do you see? A thought. Here in 2011!

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