For several years, this blog, which was originally titled what light already light, was renamed to !poi4′:;!poe’!’;;!mbassy::!oip3′:: [Poembassy Bombing]. It’s been a while since I’ve been writing anything really (including blogging), but the feeling is returning to me. And I think the days of bombing the poembassy are over now.

I have moved all of the blog content over from the site to this new home on my own website, but you can still visit the old !poi4′:;!poe’!’;;!mbassy::!oip3′:: [Poembassy Bombing]. That twitter feed is priceless.

It has been dark for me for a while (depression), and I will take the old title again as my mantra. Maybe this is all delusional. Maybe. But lately projects have been finishing after years of stagnation and new projects are starting to call to me. I hope to share these projects, as well as my new generative artwork, my experiments with a pen plotter (soon to come), and some poems and blog posts about my thoughts and feelings.

It is more than two years now since I wrote a blog post. Two years of descent into and out of depressive episodes and personal stagnation deeper than any I had ever known (and I am no stranger to depression, and am even a great admirer of the positive impact I have at times turned it towards in my life–more on this perhaps at a later time).

In coming to write this post, I found a draft I began in the spring of 2017 and never published. It captures the spirit of the depressive aspects of the past several years very well:

Unfinished June 2017 Draft Post:

I’ve lost touch with something important. Something central. Is it desire? Purpose? Direction? Passion? Can acts have context and consequence, but no significance?*

All of my friends are struggling. All of them. Like my wife and myself, many are piecing part-time, temp, adjunct, and freelance work together into making a stagnant non-living, residing in either cheap, barely affordable apartments or in parents’ or friends’ houses.

I find a place, off and on, for music-making in my life, but poetry? Art?  I have lost the feeling for words and pictures. They cannot reach me. Even the music is lacking in depth, character, purpose. It throbs and languishes. It circles, stumbles, and falters. I watch reruns of Star Trek series while eating comfort food and drinking too much.

I witness my maladaptation continue still from 2016, a year of personal losses and (literal) assault. All this while 2016 was a turning point for my health–finally learning how to get my migraines under control, and discovering that the strength and flexibility of my body had largely returned from my 2010 back injury. And conservative spite, ignorance, and greed now sit poised to

* Emphasis added. I think this is a great question to ask.

The post cut off there. Doubtless I meant to make some comment about the bonkers political climate of 2017, but hey, its 2019 now. It seems like the fears of a sudden descent into a fascist hellscape have been somewhat soothed by a midterm democratic (and dare we hope progressive/socialist) rebuke, and there is even the possibility that the plutocratic status quo may even face a serious challenge in the next few years. Maybe.

Politics aside, what is most clear to me is how lost I felt at the time, and how much anguish was being caused by this. And how much I struggled to stay in my den and lick my wounds. I have felt this lost, adrift feeling for much of my adult life, but not always as a negative thing. It had turned very sour and stifling for me.

So starting in 2018, I began to find my life increasingly claustrophobic, and my depressive moods and coping strategies were becoming more transparent and pointless. Funny how depression–which is most clearly identified in myself now as a knee-jerk assignment of pointlessness and futility to everything (which is true when you get down to it) as an excuse for withdrawing from all that is negative and positive in life (but definitely a wrong, fear-driven stance)–can itself become a victim of its attacks on purpose. Due to this greater self-awareness, I became insistent on dropping my coping strategies and becoming more committed to figuring out how to deal with (to change, improve, shape) my life.

And one by one, they began to fall away. The need to inebriate, the Netflix binging of Star Trek, the munching. Even the need to calm my mind through regular applications of breathing meditation. Unfortunately, it also seemed that a lot of the good feeling I had from making art and writing fell away too. So much of my drive had been simply anxious, fearful energy focused on production to justify my identity, to establish my purpose for being. I had to produce or I was not of any value. I had to make art to justify my designation as an artist. To not be nothing and nobody.

So I have been getting more comfortable being nothing, or not worrying about being anything, and getting better at seeing depression at work, at seeing fear at work in me, and at making the effort each day to live a life less based on fear and less concerned with finding the impossible existential answers that my depression seems to need so badly.

Part of that is getting back to this blog, and maybe soon moving it to my own server. I’m trying to get a feel for writing again as a tool for growth, which I generally approach through the disillusionment and undermining of everything false and needy in me, everything ego-enhancing. The idea of poembassy bombing is to stare the artificial internal edifices of institutions, poetic and otherwise, into rubble and dust, then find a way to move on from there. I often imagine myself to be finished with that work, sifting through the ruins, and looking for something on the horizon to set off towards, but I don’t think that’s it yet. In this metaphor, I’m still buried in the smoldering rubble, slowly finding the strength to dig myself out. Because nobody is coming to help me do it. I must do it alone.

I should say that a lot of the negativity I have gone through has faded. I have managed, as with my struggle to end years of chronic migraines (I will blog about this soon), to use every darkness and negativity in my life to seek out what is true and of value and figure out how to become a more mature, wise person. I know the world is still probably fucked, moving ever deeper into ecological, economic, and political collapse (and the more we can face this fact, maybe the more we can do about it), but the more personal, subjective experience of my life is less and less occluded by despair and depression. I can push aside the veil of fear and self-assuring knowledge (always seeking to keep things safe, contained, and identify and remove any threats) that haunts my perception to reveal something that is a frequent and refreshing reprise. Like the opening of a window in a dark, stagnant room to let in fresh air. I cannot properly describe this. Sometimes I cultivate this (as though it is something cultivated!) in meditation, other times I slip into it without intention during the day. I think Longchen Rabjam does a better job of it (from The Basic Space of Phenomena, section 10):

Without the arising and subsiding of thoughts, there is a naturally limpid, pristine state, like the unwavering evenness of a limpid ocean.
Free of the occurrence of or involvement in thoughts, free of hope or fear, you abide within the state of naturally occurring timeless awareness, the true nature of which is profoundly lucid.

Without the compulsions of ordinary mind, there is an unfeigned state–a natural settling, uncontrived and unadulterated–though it cannot be characterized with words.
This absorption in the expanse of being, the true nature of which cannot be characterized, involves neither meditation nor something to meditate on, and so laxity and agitation dissipate naturally, and enlightened intent occurs naturally.

I’m not sure he was speaking about what I have been experiencing and working towards in my own practice, but I aim for a natural settling, or I seek out that which is grasping, holding on tight, which is unsettled, then acknowledge it and watch is settle. Some kind of experience of oneness arises, and everything external and internal is subsumed in an undifferentiated whole. It does not feel like a unity/unification, but more that the previous experience of myself observing and reacting to a world that is other has been replaced by, simultaneously, the absence and presence of these as a single thing. All that I had perceived previously remains, but it has a hollow (but oddly warm and whole) presence.

(Hollow and whole. The sound of that. Never noticed the resonance. Hollow and whole. Whole and hollow. The whole hollow. A hollow whole. A hole is hollow, hollow on the whole.)

When I look in at myself, I see an earnest, wondering, urgently concerned image of my face staring outward. But upon seeing it, its transparency and flatness are apparent, and it fades away like a phantom movement you try to catch at the edges of sight. Often, then, a natural settling follows.

I don’t know how to end this, so I’ll just end it here. I feel I could keep rambling on for days without coming to any conclusion. Do I want a conclusion? Do you want a conclusion? Does everything need to be tied up in a nice package? No. Certainly not.

I’ve been thinking about practices for setting up successful live improvisation for two Ableton Live users. Coming from a background of performing in jazz and wind ensembles, there are significant differences to take into account: the “instruments” here are much more sophisticated and can produce an huge range of sounds, styles and tones. Improvisation must occur on multiple levels as a more textured composition emerges.

From my experiences over the past year improvising with another Ableton Live user, I think I can conclude the following:

  • There is a tendency, even a desire, to be subsumed by the processes happening on the screen. At the top is the music and sound being produced; much as the actions of your improvisation partner are not always clear to you or in your perception, and you only focus on his/her musical contribution, so your own actions can be subsumed under the end musical results. The body and machine are integrated, and the product is what matters most.
  • While one is improvising, one is primarily in a reactionary state and not an active state of thinking. This is true in most forms of improvisation, as years of study and practice on an instrument must make the performance of music as spontaneous as possible. It feels even more reactionary in Ableton, though, as more active forms of production, like the preparation of samples, instruments and other sound palettes are too time intensive to be done in the midst of an improvisation.
  • Because of this, preparation of sound material and some sense of pre-arrangement of different instruments and samples is necessary for one to be successful in a group improvisation with DAW’s like Ableton.

On another note, I have found that working with Ableton Live in some ways mirrors my work with the Gnoetry 0.2 computer poetry program. The sense of being subsumed into the process unfolding on the screen is sometimes quite total. It is a part of the compositional thought process, and my own thought and decision-making is combined with the prosthetic cognitive tool on my screen and at my fingertips via my keyboard and mouse.

I plan to continue this writing on the connections between compositional practices and strategies in different digital art forms on an ongoing basis. My experience alternating between projects in digital music, digital poetry and digital art over the past year has helped me to see some of the similarities and differences clearly enough, I hope, to make some useful connections.

I can’t sing for shit, which makes this sound even more fun. I was just singing the opening of Albert Ayler’s Spiritual Unity in the hallway (it was empty, thankfully), and the idea came into my head. I think a lot of it would start to sound like death metal cartoon music.

Other free jazz great’s that would be great a cappella are:

  • John Coltrane’s Interstellar Space
  • The Cecil Taylor Unit (mid-70’s)
  • Pharoah Sanders on Sonny Sharrock’s Ask the Ages
  • Anything with Evan Parker
  • Or Masada
  • Plus highlights from Peter Brötzmann’s Machine Gun (I think this would sound like Beavis and Butthead on meth)
  • And much much more!

I’ve started to watch episodes of Art21 on Hulu Plus now through my PS3. Seems you can watch all of the episodes on the PBS Art21 website. I’ve always been fascinated with all kinds of art: music, visual art, literature, dance, film. I’ve also liked to listen to interviews with artists, which I often find much more stimulating than interviews with writers. They usually seem so much more passionate, intense, and wrapped up in what they’re talking about, what they’re working on. It’s this mentality I would like to bring to my poetry, to my projects and what I am doing with language. Some of my favorite poets sound more like abstract visual artists describing a display than writers talking about a poem or the situation that it arose from. Writers like Jackson Mac Low, bpNichol, Gertrude Stein, Leslie Scalapino and Christian Bök that continue to engage my curiosity and respect after repeat engagements with their work and thought. It is not really so much an idea of an avant garde that I want to connect with. Instead, there is a curiosity and openness to their work that is constantly (constantly did) re-emerg(e)ing throughout their careers, a necessity to change the approach, the materials, the aesthetic of their projects as new focal points emerged. And the concepts, perspectives, states of mind, spaces that their works engage with and recreate for readers are a pleasure am undeniably thankful for. This is how I would like my past present and future works to be. If there is a poembassy to bomb, it is in my mind, and I will continue to build it up, blow it up, and build it back. Or maybe stretch out a bit in its hollow shell and look around.

It’s been a rough year for me. Fifteen months now of lower back problems and sciatica have dealt a serious blow to the amount of time and energy I could devote to writing, reading and thinking about poetry, being a practicing Buddhist, a dutiful husband. This blog has suffered much from my health problems, probably more than anything else, but it’s time for me to get back to work here.

What is the work of Poembassy Bombing? To figure out what it means to be a Mother Fucking Amateur (MFA 2009) and whether this is a term to embrace or run from in shame.

What do I mean by Mother Fucking Amateur? It is the best description I have for how I have felt since I completed my MFA program in 2009. So I have this degree now and a documented (and lived) institutional educational experience. I am a pedigreed “creative writer.” So how I do I become a poet, one of the same ability and impact as those I most respect: Stein, Mac Low, Koch, Silliman, Scalapino, Mohammad, Hejinian? I had a terminal degree and the feeling that I had not even started. This is when I first felt like a mother fucking amateur.

Add to this my health issues. However clear my sense of purpose or direction may have been 16 months ago (and trust me, it was not all that clear, all though it seems otherwise now) things have changed. The Buddhism that inspired my previous title (what light already light) is no longer as solid in my mind and life as it was, partly due to my physical inability to properly practice meditation and partly due to the ideas of Stephen Batchelor (Buddhism Without Beliefs) and Slavoj Zizek. Zizek’s ideological critiques of Western Buddhism particulary, although I find them problematic (I’ll blog on this later for sure), have made me suspicious of my own motivations and desires concerning my adopted religion/philosophy. My infant poetics and aesthetic sense have also fallen into troubling times, and I find myself really needing to read, discuss and come to new and more informed conclusions about the avant-garde ideas that have been somewhere behind my decisions about my writing since I first started down that road six years ago in grad school.

There is a lot that I need to learn about poetry, and I need to develop my own approach to understanding the art and writing about it in addition to my ongoing attempts at practicing it. I’m using the blog to this end for now.

Upcoming projects on the blog:

  • Reading through all of the original L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E issues (@ Eclipse) and reflecting on the relevance and impact of the aesthetics and practice recorded there. I’ve been reading Bernstein’s early essays from Content’s Dream, and I want to get deeper into the writing and ideas of that formative period of the Language School, which has produced some of my favorite poetry of the 20th century.
  • A discussion of Zizek’s critique of Western Buddhism and the impact it has had on how I think about my Buddhist practice. I’m a huge fan of Zizek. I take his criticisms very seriously and think there is a lot to how he problematizes Buddhism for Western practitioners.
  • Thoughts on the writings of Leslie Scalapino. Her last two books and the recent release of the update How Phenomena Appear to Unfold have only furthered my interest in her work. I group her with Mac Low and Stein as an unabashedly eccentric, free and original thinker about what poetry is capable of. Once you can understand her prose style–the density of the ideas and the quirky use of language–there is a lot to experience that is new and strange.
  • How my further use of Creative Wreading (ala Charles Bernstein) works out with my Introduction to Poetry class this fall semester.
  • Other things I’m sure.

The semester is all but over here, so I’m crawling out of my hermit cave little by little. I’ve been a moral supporter of Wikileaks since I heard of it several years ago, and this sentiment has only increased since the Afghan and Iraq releases earlier this year. Now I have to keep checking the new cables leaked every day at the Guardian in the UK in addition to keeping up with that and other news on Democracy Now. Here’s the Guardian’s US embassy cables page, if you’re curious too.

Just an opinion on the whole Assange arrest thing: it seems to be mostly a ploy to distract from the real issue of Wikileaks and its mission, but I think it’s more important to focus on the continuing leaks and their impact on the continuation of global business-politics as usual. With or without Assange, I think Wikileaks will be just fine. But then, who knows anything for sure. I don’t.

[Original Post: 26 Jul 2010 @ 3:48 PM]

[Update 1: 04 Aug 2010 @ 1:03 AM]

[Update 2: 03 Sept 2010 @ 9:59 PM]


I am I because my little blog knows me. The author typing alone has nothing to fear.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Questions for Further Discussion:

What is true about the statement in this poem?

whr iz d contxt?


To not forget: ideas and texts that I fear losing track of [I fear losing track of myself and my things], unlike in writing poems, where memory is not (for me) (for now) important, is not the object, and there is often little to “keep track of.”

Blog is about image (self) in that scattered pieces which the self is fearful of forgetting may be kept in one space and displayed as self-image, is then the self that is forgetful and may forget itself but never will, which has that identity then of seeing oneself laid out as in a journal or photo album. There is some distance there. Flip through and remember things you have lost track of to feel more whole.

This is of the nature of illusion.


My writing is mostly to avoid or obstruct self-construction, brush aside the illusion of a solid self. My writing often instead relies upon a principle of like/dislike or pleasure/boredom, which is an equally troublesome illusion. I have read. Though I really like-dislike pleasure and boredom. But then,

Writing is the present creation of illusion in order to diverge from it in being a state of attention. Attention, the activity of reading or observing, is the only history and present moment – at all.

(Scalapino, The Public World / Syntactically Impermanence 10)

There is the term “timeless awareness” in Tibetan Dzogchen Buddhism. This could not be a medium [basis?] for writing.

Attention here assumes the point of conventional self (relative) not the truth of no-self (ultimate) — self and mind as they appear and are experienced within or without narrative/historical context — as the point of composition. By assuming this point and writing in opposition to the self-cherishing attitude and the reinforcement of self-concern, one engages in an effective deconstructionist and Buddhist mode of writing.


This is nothing like nowhere as good as Identity A Poem. That had a lot to do with plays and human nature. This has nothing to do with plays and little to say about human nature.

I love you Gertrude Stein. I do this for you Gertrude Stein.

>- o -< >- o -<>- o -<>- o -<>- o -<>- o -<>- o -<>- o -<>- o -<

Lotuses smell like toilet cakes

Blogs smell like blogs

ppl smeL lIk ppl

And swamps smell terrible most of the year.

<+|+> <+|+><+|+><+|+><+|+><+|+><+|+><+|+><+|+>


There is illusion of continuity thus continuity of self. There are posts (writings) and gaps, and the gaps must be filled in with an assumption of continuity of self. Until the last writing. Then the complete writings may be published and sold, arranged in order of the best continuity of self, not necessarily in time, because a self does not always develop in time or thought, but actions, which are often more clearly defined outside of temporal continuity. And a self does not really develop in actions because the self does not inherently exist.

6 – txt msg (CstructD 4 othRz)

A prsn iz not a v gud writer. A writer iz CstructD 4 othRz out of a prsnz living & wrkN. Born @ d nd of writiN & brawt in2 d wrld by editors, 1 hOpz dey wer gud fRnds. DIS iz an illusion of BcumN a writer. insted jst jst wrte.

I’ve been ridiculously ill the last week now, on top of the herniated disk in my lumbar region, on top of the migraines which are becoming more frequent again. It had me thinking about suffering earlier today, how you can’t really compare certain pain with other pain in any quantifiable sense. How different is my experience of back pain from someone else’s? How can I even explain the difference between unbearable migraine pain and unbearable back pain to someone who has experienced neither? Or why I prefer the latter to the former?

Everything else seems to be going along just fine in my life. I am very happily married, I’m writing and getting work published, I’m holding down a job in spite of my current disability. Who knows what miserable state I would be in if I didn’t have these things to keep me positive? But I find myself turning to prayer again more these days. When I recite the five-syllable mantra, I wish for nobody else to have to suffer any pain like I am experiencing, be it “the same,” “better” or “worse” in strength. And I wish for other to always find good fortune in their lives, however likely that is. I believe this is a very powerful way to pray. I hope it really does benefit others, and I acknowledge too that I do it to help myself relax about my own suffering and pain.

We can’t share each other’s pain, even if we can empathize to some extent. There is no limit to the volume of suffering we can experience; there can always be worse pain, physical and emotional. I really do believe this, very deeply. But I also believe there is an end to suffering and a way to achieve this, as a Buddhist should. It keeps me going more than anything else. I hope I will understand it better before I die, however close or distant that may turn out to be.