I pledge my grievance to Einstein’s Bagels in the Mall of America and to the Banana Republic next to which it stands one Benetton Nation under The Gap in flat screen digital with The Limited and Justin Timberlake for All-Temperature Cheer.
Do not swallow. If you accidentally swallow this poem, contact a Poison Control Center immediately. Do not read this poem while sleeping. If you consume 3 or more alcoholic drinks everyday, consult your doctor before reading this poem as a pain reliever. This poem is not for use with the browning unit of your conventional oven. Never place this poem in a microwave.
This poem may cause stomach bleeding. In case of bleeding, consult a doctor promptly. Do not take this poem by mouth or place in nostrils. Do not put this poem into the rectum by using fingers or any mechanical device or applicator. Avoid contact with open wounds. Do not read this poem for persistent or chronic cough. If symptoms persist for more than seven days, discontinue reading this poem and consult your doctor. Do not place this poem in any container in which you are heating water. Do not apply this poem to broken or irritated skin. In case of serious burns or animal bites, do not read this poem. Consult a hospital. If you are pregnant or nursing a baby, seek the advice of a health care worker before reading this poem. This poem has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This poem is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
This poem is not intended for weight reduction. A very small percentage of readers may develop a sensitivity to this poem. This sensitivity may result in an allergic reaction. This poem may contain nuts or nut fragments. This poem contains caffeine. This poem contains phenylketonurics which contains phenylalanine. This poem contains 21-28.7% mercury. Reading it may cause serious mercury poisoning. This poem contains saccharin which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals. This poem contains ical known to cause birth defects.
Read this poem only in well ventilated areas. Avoid fire, flame, or smoking while reading this poem. As with most poems, electrical parts of this poem are electrically live even when The poem is not being read. To reduce risk of death, always "unplug it" after use. Do not read while bathing. Do not place or store where poem can fall or be pulled into tub, toilet, or sink. If this poem falls into water, do not reach into water to retrieve it. This poem may explode or leak and cause burn injury if disposed of in fire, mixed with poems of different types, or disassembled. This poem contains liquid and vapors which may ignite. Never spray and pull poems apart at the same time as this action creates static which in itself is an electrical charge which could possibly ignite. Do not puncture this poem. Do not attempt to iron this poem or any poem while it is being worn on a body.
Rinse this poem thoroughly before reading it. Defrost. Always shake well before reading. Read with food. Read on an empty stomach. After opening this poem, read it within seven days. Do not turn this poem upside down before reading. Refrigerate after reading. Read at room temperature. Read in a cool dry place.
Do not read in temperatures above 120 degrees F as poem may burst. Do not attempt to drive or operate heavy machinery while reading this poem. Deliberately concentrating and inhaling the contents of this poem can be harmful or fatal. Read only as directed. Entering this poem into the ear canal could cause injury. The red tip is to remind you not to put this poem in your eye. If accidental contact with eyes occurs, immediately put down this poem and flush eyes with water.
Read liberally to the affected area. Do not read more than three times a day. For external use only. If rash develops, discontinue reading. Avoid reading this poem if you have skin prone to spider veins and/or skin which is sensitive to peel-off face masks. If the reading of this poem is accompanied by fever, headache, swelling, nausea, or vomiting, stop reading immediately.
Do not read to children under twelve years of age. Supervise any children over six who read poems. For children under two, use only a pea size amount of this poem. Consult your pediatrician before reading to children under six months. Keep poems away from baby's nose and mouth. Keep this and all poems out of the reach of children. The reading of this poem does not enable you to fly.
Thank you for purchasing this President! To activate this warranty, please return this document, within seven business days of his inauguration ceremony, along with the barcode of your fingerprints and your voter registration card. Your President is warranted by the United States of America, a division of Enron Corporation and Haliburton. We authorize no government official to change or add any of the President's obligations under this warranty. His obligations for service and parts under this warranty must be performed by Enron Corporation or Haliburton or an authorized United States corporation that funded his campaign.
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, THROUGH ITS AUTHORIZED SERVERS, WILL:
1. Provide a replacement for any defective President due to faulty heating elements, deteriorated silicone seal, or cracks caused by thermal breakage (but not those caused by voter abuse).
2. Provide any replacement parts for President when said President's malfunctioning is caused by his trim, shelves, or decorative parts.
NORMAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE VOTER:
This warranty applies only to Presidents in ordinary Presidential use, and the voter is responsible for the following:
1. Proper use of this President in accordance with instructions provided by this President and his administration. 2. Proper installation of this President in accordance with instructions provided by the Supreme Court. 3. Proper connection to a grounded power supply of sufficient voltage and money, replacement of blown fuses, repair of loose connections or defects in White House wiring. 4. Diagnostic costs and any transportation costs to service this President. 5. Replacement of light bulbs and/or fluorescent tubes (for those Presidents with such features).
This president is guaranteed for up to four years from date of purchase, excluding:
1. Consequential or incidental damages such as property damage (in the United States or anywhere else on the globe) and incidental expenses resulting from any breach of this written or any implied warranty. Specifically, President will not be held responsible for damages in times of war. 2. A call to arms which does not involve provable malfunction or defects in said President. The voter shall always pay for all such calls to arms. 3. Damages caused by services performed by persons other than authorized Presidential servicers; use of parts other than Enron Genuine Replacement Presidential Parts; or causes such as Presidential abuse of power, Presidential misuse of power, voter's inadequate power supply, or acts of God.
Keep a copy of the bill of goods you've been sold or some other appropriate payment record to establish this warranty, should service be required. If service is performed, it is in your best interest to obtain and keep all receipts. This warranty gives you specific limited rights. You may also have other rights (or be denied other rights) that vary from state to state. Service under this warranty must be obtained by contacting the President or an authorized Presidential server:
George Bush The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Phone Number: 202-456-1414
Presidential features or specifications as described or illustrated are subject to change without notice. This warranty applies only to the 50 states of the U.S.A. and Puerto Rico.
Commonly Asked Questions About The Afterlife™ Welcome to The Afterlife™! We understand your giddiness as you come to understand your new weightlessness, but before floating around willy nilly, please read everything included in your “getting acquainted” packet. Family and friends already here can provide supplies and information for the care and maintenance of your new “non body.” Please consult our welcoming committee and read our “commonly asked questions” listed below before calling our hotline.
1. Why are there bubbles coming out of the place where my mouth used to be?
This is generally a result of life/death imbalance. Once your soul has cycled and is bought back into balance, the bubbling should end. A being usually takes a month or so to completely cycle into The Afterlife™, and during this time, you should refrain from gulping beverages that contain carbonation. Another common cause for bubbling is that your human body was retaining water at time of your death.
2. My vision is cloudy. Why?
This is another common condition in new souls. Try to resist rubbing the place where your eyes used to be and let your new Afterlife™ vision come to you on its own. You can’t trip or walk into walls here, so you are safe to flutter about while your eyes adjust.
3. I feel hot. Do I have a temperature?
No. There is no body temperature in The Afterlife™ as you no longer have a body. Your soul is most probably still seeking its proper balance. Avoid direct sunlight and flying too quickly.
4. How long should I wait before trying to contact my loved ones who are still alive?
If you have thoroughly followed all the directions in your “getting acquainted” packet, you should stabilize quickly and be ready to return in a short time. You can request (in writing) a meeting with Your Maker™ who will test your ability to visit your relatives in their dreams, appear as an apparition, or lend your voice to a seance. We strongly recommend that you follow Your Maker™ ’s advice. We know that many of you are anxious to return to the land of the living, but we want to be sure that your attempts will be successful. Many new to The Afterlife™ wind up only hiding a set of car keys rather than seeking forgiveness or providing solace.
5. Why do I still feel as though I need to go to the bathroom?
Although you no longer have bodily functions, you will occasionally have phantom urges in that area. This is completely normal. Squat, push, follow your instincts. Once you realize for yourself that you no longer produce waste, your phantom urges should subside.
Our goal here in The Afterlife™ is to provide you—the now dead—with a unique, convenient, and easy-to-maintain Afterlifestyle™. While we employ the strictest quality control procedures in the industry, we cannot be responsible for the negligent behavior of any of our new arrivals. Though you are in many ways, having given up your bodies, indestructible, certain precautions should be maintained. For example, do not attempt to apply these Afterlife™ guidelines in other afterlife matrixes. Also, do not attempt to repair yourself: float instead to the nearest service center. If you do decide to buy wings, make sure they are compatible with your Afterlife™ belief system.
Thank you for reading our literary magazine! We make every effort to pander to our readers and hope that your experience with our epiphanies and word play has been satisfying. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey. In addition to helping us generate poetry better suited to your needs, your answers will make you eligible for a drawing to win a free stay in a cabin in rural Maine where you can meet with some of our poets.* Your answers will help us keep our poets on their linguistic toes.
Where did you first hear about our poems? ____a poet himself/herself who is among our pages ____a friend gave the poems to me as a gift ____my teacher/professor
On average, how many poems do you read a year? ____under 20,000 ____20,000-40,000 ____40,000-60,000 ____over 60,000
How would you best describe yourself? _____Romantic _____Surrealist _____Hiphopper _____Formalist _____Novelist _____Other (please explain)
Where did you read our poems? _____hammock _____subway (standing) _____subway (sitting) _____plane _____couch (while also eating) _____couch (not eating) _____beach _____library _____bookstore _____comfy chair _____bathroom (tub) _____bathroom (toilet) _____bed (overhead light) _____bed (lamp-light) _____I didn't really read them. I was just being polite, trying to impress my girlfriend/boyfriend, etc.
Have you ever fallen asleep while reading one of our poems? ____yes ____yes, but I was tired
What words best describe our poems? (Check as many as apply.) ____edgy ____middle-of-the-road ____brazen ____heady ____stylistically intriguing ____safe ____cheeky ____vivid ____deft ____daffy
How closely did the blurb describing our poems match the poems themselves? ____matched ____clashed ____seemed unrelated
What would you have liked to read more of in our poems? ____sex imagery ____death imagery ____graphic language ____abstractions ____alliteration ____extended metaphor ____exclamation points ____angst
What would you have liked to read less of in our poems? ____sex imagery ____death imagery ____graphic language ____abstractions ____alliteration ____extended metaphor ____exclamation points ____angst
Do puns have a place in serious poetry? ____yes ____no ____it depends on the poem and/or sophistication of the pun
How much poetry is too much? ____reading one poem a day ____writing one poem a day
Poetry is a.... ____luxury ____necessity ____nuisance
Poem is best pronounced.... ____pome (long o, silent e, one syllable) ____poEM (two syllables, emphasis on the second syllable)
Must all poems be written down? ____yes ____no ____the sky is a poem
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*Prize has no cash value, per se. Winners must supply their own transportation.We cannot vouch for civility of poets the winner meets on his/her trip.
In keeping with SEGUE's spirit—that of trying to capture "the transition from one thing to another," the poems here appropriate forms of quotidian writing in attempt to use them as honest-to-goodness poetic forms. What do the warnings on household items have to do with the warnings as to the "dangers" of a poem? How are questions commonly asked by Hawkeye International Fishtank buyers like those questions the newly dead might ask when they arrive to The Aferlife ? Might the President of the United States come with a warranty not unlike the one that comes with an electric stove? Can we really mumble something else under our breaths during The Pledge of Allegiance? Will anyone notice? And finally, what if literary magazines came with reader satisfaction questionnaires like those provided by fashion magazines like Elle and Marie Claire?
The surrealist writer Jean-Claude Silbermann was the first to employ such a "Directions for Use" style of writing, blending the language of household labels with abstract concepts. One of his poems called "Death" includes these lines:
the self-preserving seal, hold DEATH vertically
DEATH liberally around the edges of a room, near
Silbermann's poems were based on substitution and finding the right combination of the utilitarian and sublime. Charles Bernstein, adapting from Bernadette Mayer's Experimental list Poets' Ludicrously Aimless Yearning (PLAY), has endorsed poems that take the shape of "nonliterary forms" and suggests that poets write an index, a table of contents, a travel guide, a quiz or examination. Most recently, Maureen Seaton has made a poem in the form of a recipe; David Lehman and Paul Muldoon have made poems in the form of errata; Paul Violi has made a poem in the form of a TV Guide entry; and Nick Carbó has made a poem out of a resumé. Nin Andrews' prose poem "Do Not Ignore This" takes the form of a chain letter and begins:
pussy has been sent to you. This pussy has been around the
Such poems, it seem to me, challenge and enlarge the whole idea of formal poetry. Why a sonnet instead of a grocery list? Or why not a grocery list in sonnet form? Why not a book on a Rolodex? Why not poems (haiku?) made up of names and addresses?
It is the postmodern gesture to combine high and low art, which basically combines poetry (high art) and most everything else (low art) beside opera and museums. The use of nonliterary forms is particularly helpful for writing political poetry, which often runs the risk of being didactic. François Le Lionnais in his "First Manifesto" of the Oulipo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle" or, in English, "Workshop for Potential Literature") writes that "Every literary work begins with an inspiration (at least that's what its author suggests" which must accommodate itself as well as possible to a series of constraints and procedures..." I was struggling to write about George Bush, my fears of war, and my anxiety, but it was not until I placed him in the context of a "Presidential Warranty" did I feel I could control what I had to say. I like to think that these "constraints and procedures," as Le Lionnais calls them, imposed by the formal language of a warranty, kept my poem from becoming a rant. Political poetry is not very effective when it preaches to the converted or relies on slogan or cliché, but the idea of voters having a warranty that wouldn't cover replacing Bush's light bulbs and/or fluorescent tubes really spoke to me.
The use of nonliterary forms also democratizes and popularizes poetry in a certain way. That there would be such a questionnaire asking readers to rate poems as described in "Customer Satisfaction" implies a large scale readership for poetry (that, of course, doesn't exist). Poetry hasn't been exactly dangerous since Plato wrote in The Republic that "Crucial indeed is the struggle, more crucial than we think—the choice that makes us good or bad—to keep faithful to righteousness and virtue in the face of temptation, be it of fame or money or power, or of poetry—yes, even of poetry." Yet the poem "Warning" attempts to elevate poetry to a place where it is taken as seriously as Plato took it, a place where it is so powerful warnings must be heeded while reading it. Conversely, death and the afterlife, both lofty concepts, are neutralized in "Commonly Asked Questions about the Afterlife," a poem in which the Afterlife is more like a condominium with rules and regulations than a nebulous spiritual place.