How to Delete a Blog

So you want to commit blogicide. Is this a spur-of-the-moment decision, prompted by a sudden attack of self-loathing, morbid shyness, angst or ennui? If so, you’re probably not going to do anything so left-brained as to search the web for instructions like these. On the off chance that you do, however, here’s my first piece of advice:

Back up the blog before deleting

I’m not talking about just saving your work to disk. You should be doing that anyway, unless blogging is some kind of bizarre exercise in egolessness and impermanence for you. What I mean by backing up your blog is saving it so that if at some point you should change your mind and want to reinstate it, or begin another blog and incorporate the archives from your old blog, you can do that. The procedure for doing so varies according to the platform you’re using. For example, with Blogger/Blogspot, click on Export blog in the Settings → Basic tab, and save the XML file onto your computer. This can be imported not only into a new Blogspot blog, but also into blogs on other platforms, such as Typepad and WordPress. WordPress will import not only posts and all associated metadata, but also comments from Blogger (but not from third-party commenting systems).

If you’re using WordPress, you can also export your blog to back it up, but, just as with Blogger, this will not save files. If you’re on, you can contact support and ask them to send you a zipped file of your images and other files you’ve uploaded; self-hosted bloggers can save files themselves via FTP (and can also take advantage of database backup plugins). Typepad users have to save files one by one, but evidently there are some third-party tools than can automate this — see “How do I backup my content?” on the Typepad Knowledge Base. Regardless of the blogging platform, backing up files is a pain in the ass to one degree or another, which brings me to another piece of advice:

Consider hosting images and other files on third-party sites

If you’re only planning to blog for a limited time, or especially if you anticipate moving your blog at some point, it’s a whole lot easier to upload photos to Flickr, Picasa, or some other photo-sharing site and link from there. Free and cheap file-storage services exist for other formats, too — hardly anyone hosts their own video, for example. If privacy is part of the motivation for terminating your blog, remember that photos on sites like Flickr can be marked private there, but still display in your posts if you ever revive your blog. I do advise against using image-sharing sites that don’t require any registration, however: many of the older images on this blog have disappeared because I foolishly stored them at Imageshack, and evidently they periodically clean out old files that no one has viewed for a while.

Going private as an alternative to blogicide

One alternative to deleting a blog is simply making it private. In Blogger, go to Settings → Permissions → Blog Readers and click “only readers I choose.” Blogs hosted at Typepad and can also be made private. (If you want to make just some of your blog posts private, WordPress offers the option of having password-protected posts on otherwise public blogs, which is a feature that seems to be drawing many writers of a more ambitious bent than me, who intend to eventually submit much of their content to publications that don’t consider previously published work.) Private blogs (or password-protected posts) will not be syndicated in feeds and will not be indexed by search engines.

Preventing your content from being perpetuated elsewhere

Again, I realize that most of the time people don’t start blogging with the intention of eventually wiping the slate clean, but if that is your long-term goal, you have to think seriously about whether you want to be indexed by search engines. Google in particular can cache material from dead websites for a very long time, and the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine exists for the stated purpose of preserving copies of the Internet for all time. You may think you’ve deleted your blog, but chances are that at least half of all your content has been preserved at the Internet Archive. They’ll remove it if you write to them and ask, but you can also instruct their spiders not to crawl your site in the first place — and the same goes for Google and other search engines.

On, under Settings → Privacy, there’s an intermediate setting you can check: “I would like to block search engines, but allow normal visitors.” In other blogging platforms where you have direct access to your theme/template files, you can insert code instructing bots not to index or cache your content. If you have access to the root of your domain, you can simply use a robots.txt file. If you want to exclude the Internet Archive from copying your blog for all eternity, but still be accessible to search engines up until the date of deletion, you can do that too.

Cutting the feeds

Feeds are generated automatically by all modern blogging and content management system software. In most if not all systems, you can choose to supply partial rather than full-content feeds consisting of the first several lines of each post (although those of us who subscribe to feeds find this intensely annoying), but making the RSS completely private is quite a bit trickier, from what I gather. You’re better off disabling the feed altogether: Settings → Site Feed → “None” in Blogger; I don’t think this option exists for blogs without making the blog itself completely private. For a self-hosted WordPress blog, you can either edit your theme’s functions.php file or use a plugin.

Once a feed reader or aggregator has syndicated your content, deleting your feed won’t destroy that content. Anyone who happens to have subscribed to your blog at any point will still be able to read your posts indefinitely (and I hesitate to point this out, because in some cases I have saved the contents of deleted blogs I was fond of in this manner). So before disabling your feed or deleting your blog, if you want to be thorough you can republish all your old posts with empty or minimal content, then wait a day or two for feed readers to update all the posts. As long as you don’t change the permalinks in any way, this should overwrite all the old content. Then you can proceed to total blogicide.

Don’t forget about incoming links and readers

When I moved this blog from Blogspot to a self-hosted WordPress installation back in 2006, I initially kept the old blog up with a redirect message. But after a year went by I got tired of having all that duplicate content up, and I deleted the blog. Bad move.

It turned out that Blogger had no problem recycling unused subdomains to new users, so quickly turned into a splog, or spam blog, selling some kind of tawdry product — I can’t remember just what. Fortunately, this seems no longer to be the case: Blogger has joined, Typepad, and other reputable hosted blogging services in retiring subdomains after blogs are deleted. This does mean of course that you won’t be able to reuse the subdomain yourself, either — once deleted, it’s gone. So think carefully before you click that Delete button. Even if you back up everything and import into a new blog, you’ll have to start from zero as far as incoming links and readers are concerned.

For domains you register yourself, the problem still remains. Serious sploggers have automated systems to notify them the instant that a domain in use becomes available, and such domains are valuable to them because of the incoming links, which might translate into clicks on ads. So if you’re only planning to blog for a limited time, go with a hosted service where you’ll be If you do find yourself in the position of deleting a site with a registered domain, you’ll have to decide whether it’s worth it to continue paying the annual registration fee and just put some sort of “this site is closed” message up, or whether you want to try and contact all the people who were kind enough to link to you and ask them to remove the link so their readers won’t end up on some crappy, possibly virus-ridden site.

One way or another, if people have linked to you, it’s a nice courtesy to let them know that the site has been deleted — nobody likes having dead links. And what about your readers? Surely they deserve a little advance notice of the blog’s impending demise, so they have a chance to catch up on reading if they’ve gotten behind. You can always disable comments if you don’t feel like fielding a bunch of distraught messages. It’s your blog and you can do what you want with it — if I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t have written this post — but I do think we have some obligations to our readers and fellow bloggers. As with suicide, it’s grim to contemplate and no one who loves you is going to be happy with your decision, but there is a right way to do it.

(Re-)Claiming the Body

This entry is part 3 of 37 in the series Bridge to Nowhere: poems at mid-life


I’ve been trying for days to make a videopoem that I’m satisfied with — no luck. But at least I managed to revise an old poem in the process. (This also appears in my online collection Shadow Cabinet. One of the main advantages of self-publishing your work on the web is that you never have to abandon it. Come to think of it, that’s also one of the main disadvantages!)

This is a modified Google poem, meaning that I searched a word (body) and collected some of the most common or interesting usages, but added my own responses (the unitalicized phrases). A pure Google poem would consist entirely of search results, such as my earlier “Chant for the Summit of the World Body,” which inspired this — a very tame form of flarf.

Claiming the Body


of work

why do you wake me up at 4:00 a.m.

body of evidence

body of knowledge

body of the paper
here comes
the red pen

governing body
hold me

body of water
hold me

body count
you overwhelm

body image
upside-down in the lens

body in motion
you rest at
a constant speed

body of Christ
one size
fits all

Body of Missing Pilot

body of a Venus
full of give

body work
everything comes into play



Download the MP3


I’ve been asked to respond to ten questions for a series at Nic S.’s blog, Very Like a Whale, on poets’ uses of technology. The responses so far, by Amy King, Collin Kelley, and Ren Powell, have been excellent, and I’m not sure what there will be left for me to say by the time my turn rolls around, in least in terms of theory and analysis. That’s probably for the best, though — analytic thinking has never been my strong suit. But revising the foregoing poem has reminded me that I have done a bit of experimenting, even though stylistically I am not an experimental poet. I suppose there might be some general interest in showing how someone who is pretty much a mainstream practitioner of contemporary poetry can still take advantage of digital and online technologies.

So I’m trying to think of examples in particular for Nic’s eighth question, “Do you use technology as an integral element of your poetry? If so, how? If not, why not?” Clearly, my two neo-Flarfist “body” poems are one example where a technology (internet searching) played a pivotal role. I could also mention my use of online polls and surveys (I need to play around some more with branching surveys), mind maps, digital poetry postcards, audio- and videopoetry, and Twitter poetry (i.e. The Morning Porch). Needless to say, I also plan to talk about the salutary effects of blogging on poetry in general, such as the way photo captions often morph into poems. I guess I’ll mention online collaboration, though I haven’t done nearly as much of that as I should — my chain poem about news stories with Patricia Anderson is one of the few examples that comes to mind. What else am I forgetting?

Portico bat

I guess I must be what they call batshit crazy, because when I saw bat shit on the bricks outside my door, I let out a whoop. The portico bat is back! I got a flashlight and pointed it up into the crack between the roof structure and the side of the house, and sure enough, there he was, blinking down at me from behind a mud dauber’s nest.

portico bat (little brown myotis)
Click through for the close-up (I differentially adjusted the light levels in the crack and wall portions of the photo, which accounts for the slightly artificial look)

Bats are long-lived creatures — in stark contrast to most mammals their size — so in one sense it’s not surprising that this little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) has been coming back to roost every spring for at least the past six years, which is as long as I’ve been keeping track. But with the epidemic known as white-nose syndrome now beginning to decimate populations of bats in nearby hibernacula, I didn’t expect to see this guy again. I decided to annoy him for a couple more minutes, just long enough to snap his picture for posterity.

No white nose yet — though last summer, he was briefly white from head to toe. The house was getting a long-overdue paint job, and it was seriously disturbing his sleep. When I scraped under the portico roof, I was careful not to get too close, but when I started blasting the adjacent wall with the pressure-washer, he came sailing out like a bat out of hell — a really, really wet hell.

So when it came time to paint, I guess the smell got to him and he decided to flee again, only this time, for some reason, he dove straight into the bucket of paint. Our caretaker Paula was the painter, and she let out a yell that brought me running. Good thing she’s not as slow-witted as I am, though. She grabbed him before he could fly away or start grooming himself, carried him into my laundry room, and very gently washed the paint from his fur and parchment-thin wings in a trickle of tap water while her husband Troy and I watched and offered advice.

You have never seen a more ugly and pitiable creature than that soaking wet bat. Fortunately, it was a warm day. I scrounged up a cardboard box to put him in until the paint dried in a couple of hours — we were afraid he’d try to crawl back into his crack and get wet paint on himself again. Toward evening when we finally released him, though, he flew off into the woods, and he didn’t return for several days. But return he did, and there wasn’t a trace of paint on him. He’s a survivor.

view of the portico showing the bat's location
view of the portico showing the bat's location

I wonder if he ever misses the teeming maternal colony of his first summer. Perhaps, like humans, bats don’t remember their infancy. Some might say they don’t remember much at all, lacking (as far as we know) a symbolic language, but he certainly remembers his spot behind the portico each year. And bats and humans might be expected to have a little bit in common, since we’re both long-lived social animals — except when we’re not, and go off and live as a recluse for a while. Even though I rarely see him, I enjoy knowing he’s there, ten feet from where I write. If he doesn’t return next spring, it’ll be just a little bit lonelier around here.

May moon

A June bug thuds against the window
I go out to see if
the moon’s full yet

still flat on one side
but its ring is perfect

I fill my nostrils again & again
with the scent
of dame’s-rocket

stones in the driveway
shine like lost coins

florescent light leaks
from the moonlit house
a brighter shade of pale

the face of someone texting
in a dark concert hall

it’s still only May
in all this long grass
a single cricket


I have yellow irises, I have purple irises, and starting about four years ago, I even have mixed-race yellow-and-purple irises that appeared all on their own. These last are very cool, despite the fact that they are kind of ugly: yellow and purple really don’t mix. Actually, I came perilously close to painting my living room purple two years ago, and it was only the thought of the contrast it would make with the yellow of my writing room that dissuaded me.

I’ve never regretted painting this room yellow: it’s a cheerful color that seems particularly fitting in a 19th-century cottage, for some reason. There are certain bars I visit in my dreams with yellow décor, and they are also always appealing empty — no noisy drunks, not even a bartender. You just pour a yellow drink into a glass and savor the warmth in your throat, like liquid sunshine. Maybe this is what an iris is like to a bumblebee: a self-serve bar with bright translucent walls. And when irises close, I love the way they fold up tight as six-fingered fists. It’s as if the garden is mounting an insurrection against the sun.

Sunday blog stroll

Back on May 1, the (London) Times had a feature called “40 bloggers who really count.” If you’d thought the equation of popularity to cultural significance was a uniquely American phenomenon, think again: somehow the authors found room for seven fashion blogs, two Hollywood blogs and two gossip blogs, but not a single science, nature, art, poetry or religion and philosophy blog. They included just one blog apiece in the literature and memoir categories (Maud Newton and dooce, respectively), the latter especially surprising since I believe that the memoir blog is still numerically the most dominant genre.

I flirted with the idea of doing my own, rival list of Top 40 blogs, but started thinking about all the blogs I’d have to exclude from such a short list and thought better of it. Besides, if I’m so opposed to the “Top 40” mentality, why pander to it? Still, if you’re not reading blogs like the Marvelous in nature, Coyote Crossing, The Rain in My Purse, Drawing the Motmot, Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ Artlog, Paula’s House of Toast, Crack Skull Bob, or tasting rhubarb, you don’t know what you’re missing. There’s way more to the blogosphere than politics, celebrities and gossip.


I was pleased this morning to see an old blogging friend back at it with a new photoblog, from this shore, which, based on the photos she’s posted so far, promises to offer far more real and intimate glimpses into East Asian Buddhist monasticism than one could ever hope to get as a mere tourist.

“From this shore to the other shore:” a common metaphor for the crossing from samsara to nirvana, delusion to wisdom, in East Asian Buddhism.

The photographs and interviews here are part of an on-going project to both document and express the lives of Buddhist nuns.

Face it, it’s hard to find non-idealized portrayals of monastics even when they’re just boring old Cistercians or Benedictines, without the additional layer of exoticism you get from having them be Zen (Seon) Buddhists. How often do you get a chance to see that world through the eyes of someone who has lived it herself, day in and day out for five years?

Then this afternoon I discovered that Anthropological Notebook is back — another chance to see supposedly exotic people being very human and ordinary. Lye Tuck-Po is a Malaysian anthropologist who has worked extensively with the Batek, a hunter-gatherer forest people of peninsular Malaysia, and is also an accomplished amateur photographer. She took down the original incarnation of her blog last August “due to pressure of work,” but has now started it up again, intending to use it “mainly for posting photography.” One can also follow her work on Flickr.


The Smorgasblog on my sidebar is the main way I link to other blogs, but since it’s exclusively text-focused, photoblogs get short shrift. I also tend not to link much to microbloggers, haiku poets, and the like, since that would entail quoting posts or poems in their entirety — a violation of Fair Use under U.S. copyright law. I’d have to email for special permission, and most of the time I’m just too damn lazy. So it is that I almost never link to one of my favorite poetry blogs, Grant Hackett’s Falling Off the Mountain. His one-line poems are simply amazing.
UPDATE: Grant deleted his blog without explanation on June 1, 2010.


Speaking of micropoetry, tiny words (also on Twitter) recently began serializing a new issue after a longer-than-expected break. I like this magazine not only for the great content, but also the minimalist design and the fact that it is doing nearly everything right, in my opinion. Most online literary magazines are clusterfucks of poor usability, non-existent SEO, missing or malformed RSS feeds, and a lamentable tendency to try and ape print magazines in every way possible, so it’s refreshing to find one like tiny words whose editor not only has a firm grasp of how the web works, but even seems interested in expanding readership beyond the authors themselves and their immediate friends.


I launched a new website myself last week, a blog in the guise of a discussion forum for my videopoetry site Moving Poems. Check it out if you’re at all interested in news and views about the videopoetry/poetry film medium, and email me if you’d like to contribute posts. I explain my thinking and goals for the forum in an overview post.


Lest you think that blogs are no longer culturally relevant just because the cool tech kids have moved on to other things, “Surprise: Traditional Blogging Platforms Still Reign Supreme,” a headline in ReadWriteWeb recently announced. Even the bulk of online conversations still take place in blog comment threads, not on Twitter, Facebook and their ilk. Unique, personalized websites with regularly updated content on the front page still rule the web, and that really shouldn’t be a surprise. Would traditional print periodicals be in such trouble otherwise?


I am a renter on a large estate. Every night the landlord comes around to take his cut. If I shut the door, he raps on the window. If I pull the shades, he turns my power off. It’s not my labor he’s after but my consciousness. I only need it for a few hours, he says, but already I’ve given up a third of my life. Think of it as ballast, he says, the dark sand trickling through his fingers. Imagine being unable to imagine. Imagine weeping because you couldn’t spare the time to blink.

Foggy year

A selection of Morning Porch tweets from 2007-2010, arranged into a single year.

Jan 6
Dripping fog, the snow reduced to patches. Mating season has come for the great-horned owls calling in the distance, one high, one low.

Jan 17
Fog. A distant chainsaw in one direction and in the other, rodent teeth. Amorous squirrels race back and forth over the white ground.

Jan 25
Twelve hours of downpour and the stream’s a torrent, water clear from running off frozen ground. Small clouds rise like spirits from the snow.

Feb 6
Ground-level clouds appear and disappear in the half-dark; even the thermometer is fogged up. Over the roar of the stream, a robin’s song.

Feb 11
Fog drifts through the woods where rain has reduced the snow to archipelagos. Overhead the clouds, too, are breaking up. Low-flying geese.

Feb 23
Thick fog prolongs the early-morning light for hours. The cardinal sings spring while a screech owl quavers over the luminous snow.

Mar 4
Rain and fog. A robin drops into the barberry bush, tut-tutting. Up in the woods, two deer stand with their heads buried in the soft snow.

Mar 18
Bluebird, white-throated sparrow, a starling’s liquid note, and high overhead, a kildeer: the sky must be blue above the fog.

Mar 19
Hours of hard rain have brought out the green in tree trunks and branches, in laurel leaves, in moss. Even the fog has a slight green cast.

Mar 28
Thick fog blanks everything but the noise from the highway—this could be New Jersey. Rain beads on the branches of the ornamental cherry.

Mar 29
When the sun finally breaches the fog, the forest drips with jewels. In the yard, the first native wildflower opens its pin-sized blooms.

Apr 4
Somewhere in the fog, a red-winged blackbird, a pair of mourning doves, a robin, a flock of finches. Half an hour later, nothing but rain.

Apr 14
Thick ground fog, one degree below freezing. The trees grow sharper as the sun begins to blur. Please don’t flower yet, I tell the oaks.

Apr 25
Sometime past 7:30, the birds fall silent for half a minute and there’s only fog, a slow drip from leaves no larger than squirrels’ ears.

May 6
The gray winter pelts of two grazing deer are just beginning to fray. The fog withdraws into the woods and the webs of grass spiders.

May 15
Sun through fog. Animals emerge and vanish like actors in a play, bringing their cries and silences: goldfinches, a raven, a pair of deer.

May 27
Fog. The ants who tend the peony buds have been replaced by drops of water—all but one, who moves slow as an astronaut on a strange planet.

May 28
Pale bones of the dead elm, standing at the edge of the yard like an emissary from Lent amidst a Mardi Gras of green, reach into fog.

Jun 4
Foggy morning. A short-lived bright period brings a faint sound of traffic from I-99. I hear the hummingbird’s small motor in the garden.

Jul 8
The little wood satyr I first spotted yesterday flutters up from the side garden, yellow-rimmed eyespots like dim headlights in the fog.

Jul 9
Thin fog in the corner of the field. A Cooper’s hawk fledgling responds to its parent, a hot cry, a knife cry, a glossy cry, a soul cry.

Aug 1
I watch a yellow black walnut leaf flutter to the ground. Autumn’s in the air. Fog persists most of the morning, lit up from above.

Aug 14
Thin fog. Now that the phoebes have left, their shy cousins the pewees have come out of the woods, and herald each sunrise in a slow drawl.

Aug 17
Dawn fog lifts and pauses, so it’s clear to a height of ten feet, then white, then the crescent moon. A red-bellied woodpecker’s slow chant.

Aug 20
The fog reveals as much as it hides. Who knew the trees held so many spiderwebs? The birds are mostly quiet now; it’s cricket spring.

Aug 29
Rain and fog. Nuthatches, a wood pewee, the liquid song of a winter wren. Behind me, loud thumps from some large animal under the house.

Aug 30
Out of the darkness and fog before dawn, a sudden yelp. Only when it moves farther off am I able to place it: a raccoon. The newest tenant.

Sep 4
Thin fog at dawn. From the woods’ edge, the familiar two-syllable call of a scarlet tanager sounds suddenly very much like goodbye.

Sep 21
In the pre-dawn, Sunday-morning silence, the distant bellowing of a cow. A half moon glows through the fog—a thin milk.

Sep 27
First one, then a second Carolina wren pops out from under the eaves, perches in the fretwork for a second, and flies off into the fog.

Oct 1
A pileated woodpecker hammers on a dead tree, resonant as it never was in life. I watch ground fog form and dissipate into a clear dawn sky.

Oct 5
Through the darkness and fog, loud thuds from the black walnut trees that encircle the houses, a slow carpet bombing that goes on for weeks.

Nov 12
A pair of ravens fly low over the house, invisible in the fog. I’m lost in thought about trickster gods, and right on cue: Arrk! Arrk! Arrk!

Nov 19
Drizzle turns into downpour and the fog retreats up the ridge. An hour later the rain eases and the fog rolls in again, erasing the trees.

Nov 24
Rain and fog with raven: silent, just above the treetops. White-throated sparrows and a freight train whistling at the same pitch.

Dec 10
Rain and fog. Only the low rumbly sounds break through: a jet, a train. Sitting in the dark, it’s almost possible to believe in isolation.

Dec 23
Thick fog at dawn, gray against the snow. Slate-colored juncos call back and forth: Where are you? A wind comes up.

Dec 27
In the darkness and fog, the sound of slush being punctured and scraped aside. I can just make out the solid shadows, their many thin legs.

Natural Faculties

This entry is part 2 of 37 in the series Bridge to Nowhere: poems at mid-life


Lines from Galen, translated by Arthur John Brock (1916)

When a warm thing becomes cold, and a cold warm
When anything moist becomes dry, or dry moist
When a small thing becomes bigger
When food turns into blood
When the limbs have their position altered
When, therefore, the animal has attained its complete size
When the matter that flows into each part of the body in the form of nutriment is being worked up into it
When the vapours have passed through the coats of the stomach and intestines
When this has been made quite clear
When the iron has another piece brought into contact with it
When a small body becomes entangeld with another small body
When our peasants are bringing corn from the country into the city in wagons

Children take the bladders of pigs, fill them with air, and then rub them on ashes near the fire, so as to warm but not to injure them. This is a common game in the district of Ionia, and among not a few other nations. As they rub, they sing songs, to a certain measure, time, and rhythm, and all their words are an exhortation to the bladder to increase in size.

Imagine the heart to be, at the beginning, so small as to differ in no respect from a millet-seed, or, if you will, a bean…

Now, clearly, in these doings of the children, the more the interior cavity of the bladder increases in size, the thinner, necessarily, does its substance become

common to all kinds of motion is change

tangible distinctions are hardness and softness, viscosity, friability, lightness, heaviness, density, rarity, smoothness, roughness, thickness and thinness; all of these have been duly mentioned by Aristotle

Nature constructs bone, cartilage, nerve, membrane, ligament, vein, and so forth, at the first stage of the animal’s genesis

pain is common to all these conditions

please test this assertion first in the muscles themselves

This also was unknown to Erasistratus, whom nothing escaped.