I am working on some new poetry to use within a larger digital poetry work. The idea is to write some lines and paragraphs that can be tagged and then combined into new poems (my very loose plan for now). I am currently using Gnoetry 0.2 (and will soon be using jGnoetry and a simple RiTa function I’ve been working on that implements Markov chaining / n-grams) to write some lines as well, which are then revised and worked into my own writings. The last part of my plan may be to include new sentences/paragraphs/lines that are generated from the rest of the source text and woven into the other text.

I’ll keep you updated on this as it evolves.

The poem below (let’s just think of it as a standalone poem for now, why not) is very similar to a poem I wrote without computer processes several years ago: The Mind, Not Poetry, Is a Machine Made of Words. I will probably include that text into my project as well.

However Sincere It Is Almost Nothing (some fragments)

I’m not the story I’m telling you, however sincere. The checksum confirms receipt of these fragments. You will receive seven packages, a duffle bag full of heads–something like that.

Remember. I’m not taking this all so seriously now no more scraping & screeching about. My fear is I will not be capable of sharing my loving when the shining moment comes.

There is a story here but it is boring. A being who cannot abide its inherent innocence flirts with every transgression it can stomach and ends up nowhere really.

If I produce enough powerful statements will a magical transformation occur? If I write clearly enough, truthfully enough, sharply enough, what will happen? Imagine how the other poets have fared.

Dandelions in our hair and woven around our wrists and ankles. The earth celebrates. But artificial skin can feel enough like the real thing when you want it to.

However sincere, you can find the roots of my voice growing all over these lines, perhaps symbiotic, perhaps parasitic. It is never clear who is devoured and who is fed among these flimsy souls I summon.

There is no set order to these lines. Be quiet and listen. Quieter still. Order does not announces itself but emerges in the branching seams.

Do not tell me about the world anymore. Tell me you just dropped out at last like you always dreamed of. Show me the unstained way, I cannot see with these eyes in the way. Point me to the heart of being.

It is not in the dark and brooding brook, it is not in the dark and bristling body. The grass is shorter and shorter, the rose with an apple inside is almost nothing.

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 WordPress.com 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.

There is something that must be done and undone. I am writing a way in. I have not been earnest enough honest enough. I have not been forthright.

What is bottled up will not burn right. It melts, cracks, explodes. It makes a big mess of things. I do not want a mess really. I want fuel, air. I want ash.

Except for my love I do not know what I should care about. And it is not my love, and I do not need to care for it. It wells up and fades out and when I am aware of it I am a milk jug rolling and bobbing on the waves of it.

There is nothing more satisfying than a good fuck, a deep fuck. Something should be sore after, and something should be knocked loose—something hard to pin down, that should not stay where it was.

I brought them outside and washed them with the hose. In rainbows.

Writing can take it out of me and make it visible, but what it becomes is a sham. Was it a sham when it was still inside me? And when the air and sunlight and water of the world touches it, what will be left of it? The world eats everything. It is always hungry.

Fourteen hours and twenty-seven minutes and forty-one seconds have passed. Mostly without me.

Sometimes I do not wash the stink off of me. I am a dirty animal too.

Before there was a decision there was a moment. Of confusion? Of peace? Of innocence? Before I got lost on the better route, I saw where I was and wept for the brutality of it. I knew where I was.

Two roads diverge in a forest. I run crashing through the bush and thorns.

Returning and rerunning, retreading the path, rewinding the tape. Reposting the repast, repelling and rappelling. But not rapping. I leave that to the masters.

“There is no authority in one or others.” — Leslie Scalapino.

“I write for myself and others.” — Gertrude Stein.

I will write to the end of myself and others, and there is no succeeding.

Don’t ask me to explain because I do not understand it.

I thought of writing The Bewilderness Survival Guide, but I do not think it can be survived. I waste away to nothing in my bewilderness.

Earlier this week I thought of a digital art project. Participants would have their bodies and faces scanned to create 3D game characters which would then star in an unending series of animated death scenarios. They would watch their bodies choking, starving, having a stroke, dying from infection, malnutrition, dehydration, exposure, being mangled, shot, blown up, slashed, stabbed, hacked, burned, crushed, brutalized, hit by cars, buses, falling satellites, eaten by roaches and wolves and sharks—fatally wounded in every conceivable way on a projection screen.

I want to watch this for myself. I want to participate. I want to see my imaginary deaths pile up before my eyes. I want to know what I would think and feel then.

I mean to be morbid but this is just my positivity shining through. Not obsession but its antidote.

Read this explanation of the Gnoetry 0.2 program and my writing process + aesthetic with it: Confessions of a Cyborg Poet: Gnoetry, eRoGK7, and Human-Computer Poetry Generation @ Sycamore Review Blog.

Writing with Gnoetry is like playing a game called “What is the best poem you can sculpt from this language?” Since I approach it as though it was a game or puzzle, it makes me feel less like the author of the poems I create through it—less an owner and more a participant—so I feel much freer to experiment and less anxious about writing about sensitive or possibly offensive subjects.

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.

I guess for my first foray into relating the impact of Language Poets on my own sense of poetry, it will be fine to start with how they have affected my teaching of poetry at the college level. Charles Bernstein in particularly has been someone whose pedagogy I have used as a model to guide how I shape my own courses on poetry as literature and as an art form.

Skimming through some the of chapters of Bernstein’s new book, Attack of the Difficult Poems (I’m able to read it online through my University’s library website as an ebook, but I think it’s stupid that I can’t just download the thing and print it out, or transfer it to my Kindle–I’ll have to work on that [o]: ), I’m surprised at some similarities to what I’ve been doing with my literature classes over the past few years. I’ve experimented with using writing activities in a literature course before, particularly the Introduction to Poetry course I taught last year at Purdue University. I think it is one of the best ways for students unacquainted with poetry and its language activity My subtitle for the course, which I plan to use again, is “Poetry as a Second Language,” which Bernstein’s echoes in his chapter on “Creative Wreading & Aesthetic Judgement:”

My response to this chronic poetic aporia (CPA) is to provide intensive poetry immersion courses, something like teaching poetry as a second language. That means I try to immerse the class in a wide yet distinct variety of poetic forms, sounds, dictions, and logics.

I had connected with that same concept of poetry as a second language via Kenneth Koch’s excellent book on teaching poetry, Making Your Own Days. Koch was referring I think to something Paul Valery had said about poetry being present as a second language within any given language, so that the language of poetry, while dwelling solidly within any given spoken/written language, exists on a somewhat different plane, behaving in different and strange ways in relation to its home language. I took from this that to really teach someone what poetry was it would be necessary to show them how it behaves by its own set of codes nestled within our language’s more instrumental set of signs.

Bernstein seems to describe a set of activities which he uses to run an alternative to the standard “creative writing” workshop for undergrads. I’m a fan of Kenneth Goldsmith’s “uncreative writing” activities, too, as well as other forms of appropriative, generative, or otherwise methods of writing poetry (Google Sculpting, Gnoetry). I’ve taken a lot from other teachers, especially writers who teach.

One wreading activity I had my students participate in last year which they found to be very engaging and enjoyable (I gauged this from their comments, laughter and expressions during the writing process) was for them to apply the Writing by Negation exercise (Oulipo) to two famous American poems. Here are the results:


The first poem below is the class’s negation of Wallace Stevens’ “Anecdote of the Jar.” The second is a negation of Emily Dickenson’s “[The Brain–is wider than the Sky–].” Both poems in their entirety were decided upon by the class calling out suggestions which I then weighed as either being the most “interesting” or popular suggestions.


Novel of Many Cans

for Wally

You retained many cans in Australia,
And square they weren’t, beneath the lake.
They destroyed the prissy palace
Lonely by the lake.

The palace sank down into it,
Poised, increasingly tame.
The cans weren’t square above the sky,
Stout and of a parking garage below the ground.

They left things well alone.
The cans were purple and gaudy.
They smelled of tuna and the beach,
Just like everything else in Australia.

[The Viscera ++ are narrower than the Ocean ++]

for Emily

The Viscera ++ are narrower than the Ocean ++
Then ++ moved them further apart ++
The many the all will exclude
With tension ++ and Eric ++ inside ++

The Viscera is shallower than the sky ++
Against ++ Release you ++ Green for Green ++
The two the same will reject ++
As Granite ++ Netting ++ doesn’t ++

The Viscera is heavier than the Devil ++
As ++ Light as ++ Dollar for Dollar ++
And we will share ++ and they won’t ++
As Multisyllabic Word from Silence ++

Collaboratively composed in class by members of ENGL 237 – 002, Purdue University

Dec. 6, 2010


Novel of Many Cans is one of my favorite titles, I think I’ll steal it! It also has a better ending than I’ve ever written on my own. (How long has it been since I wrote something “on my own” anyways?)

Along with some of my standard writing/reading/wreading activities I might modify the collaborative writing Bernstein describes to suit my own purposes. I’ve got two projects in mind already: one is based on description and another on definition. Perhaps a third can be on subversion? They’ll each contribute a sentence a class day to any text and, by the end of the semester, we’ll have a book length collaboration, or maybe a chapbook that I can try to publish. Wouldn’t that be cool!

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.

Said of WikiLeaks: “Could become as important a journalistic tool as the Freedom of Information Act.” – Time Magazine

Now its a poetic tool too. Over at Gnoetry Daily, Eric Elshtain has initiated the GnoetryLeaks series, what could amount to the most transparent poetry series of all time, using individual leaked U.S. embassy cables from Cablegate @ WikiLeaks as source texts. I’ve joined the project now, and soon we plan to collaborate on several pieces Gnoetry-renga style.

It’s all so exciting!

Read the series so far: GnoetryLeaks @ Gnoetry Daily

[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.