(Lord’s day). It raining, we set out, and about nine o’clock got to Hatfield in church-time; and I ‘light and saw my simple Lord Salsbury sit there in his gallery. Staid not in the Church, but thence mounted again and to Barnett by the end of sermon, and there dined at the Red Lyon very weary again, but all my weariness yesterday night and to-day in my thighs only, the rest of my weariness in my shoulders and arms being quite gone. Thence home, parting company at my cozen Anth. Joyce’s, by four o’clock, weary, but very well, to bed at home, where I find all well. Anon my wife came to bed, but for my ease rose again and lay with her woman.

at church
red on a shoulder—
one rose

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 16 October 1664.

“…What can
it mean, significance minus
meaning?” ~ J. Allyn Rosser

At dusk, as if it were a question
of life or death or the first
paragraph in an existential novel,
moths hurl their soft bodies against
the storm door. Lit up by porch lamps,
it glows like an electric field,
pulsing bars the color of melted
honey. Even the small checkerboard
beetles that usually sit like red
and yellow enamel pins on the siding
want to edge closer to this brightness.
The last time I tapped the lantern’s
glass cup upside down to clean it,
a dry rain of papery wings unfastened
—so many acts of significance or
insignificance, depending on how
you look at it. Like that day
in a high school literature class
when, to teach about metaphor,
the teacher made us file one by one
to the front of the room and look
at a poorly drawn watercolor pressed
under glass on her desk. Some girls
gushed about the strength and longevity
of rock; only one said it was just
a picture of mountains and trees.

My father and I up and walked alone to Hinchingbroke; and among the other late chargeable works that my Lord hath done there, we saw his water-works and the Ora which is very fine; and so is the house all over, but I am sorry to think of the money at this time spent therein. Back to my father’s (Mr. Sheply being out of town) and there breakfasted, after making an end with Barton about his businesses, and then my mother called me into the garden, and there but all to no purpose desiring me to be friends with John, but I told her I cannot, nor indeed easily shall, which afflicted the poor woman, but I cannot help it. Then taking leave, W. Joyce and I set out, calling T. Trice at Bugden, and thence got by night to Stevenage, and there mighty merry, though I in bed more weary than the other two days, which, I think, proceeded from our galloping so much, my other weariness being almost all over; but I find that a coney skin in my breeches preserves me perfectly from galling, and that eating after I come to my Inne, without drinking, do keep me from being stomach sick, which drink do presently make me.
We lay all in several beds in the same room, and W. Joyce full of his impertinent tricks and talk, which then made us merry, as any other fool would have done. So to sleep.

out in the garden
I cannot help the bug
in my stomach

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 15 October 1664.

I’m sorry for the afternoon,
which was late and now won’t ever

be coming back. And I’m sorry
for this fibrous heart I’ll tear

from the tree before it’s ripe,
that I’ll pull apart at the kitchen

sink. Here’s the knife I was given
and which I’ll use to hack time’s

signature green fibers into shreds
—For I was trained to use all

parts delivered into my hands:
from the woody rind to the pulp

to the seed’s thin sheath; and
at last the seed itself.


In response to Via Negativa: Dictator.

Up by break of day, and got to Brampton by three o’clock, where my father and mother overjoyed to see me, my mother, ready to weepe every time she looked upon me. After dinner my father and I to the Court, and there did all our business to my mind, as I have set down in a paper particularly expressing our proceedings at this court. So home, where W. Joyce full of talk and pleased with his journey, and after supper I to bed and left my father, mother, and him laughing.

over all
our paper proceedings
his full laugh

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 14 October 1664.

After being at the office all the morning, I home and dined, and taking leave of my wife with my mind not a little troubled how she would look after herself or house in my absence, especially, too, leaving a considerable sum of money in the office, I by coach to the Red Lyon in Aldersgate Street, and there, by agreement, met W. Joyce and Tom Trice, and mounted, I upon a very fine mare that Sir W. Warren helps me to, and so very merrily rode till it was very darke, I leading the way through the darke to Welling, and there, not being very weary, to supper and to bed. But very bad accommodation at the Swan.
In this day’s journey I met with Mr. White, Cromwell’s chaplin that was, and had a great deale of discourse with him. Among others, he tells me that Richard is, and hath long been, in France, and is now going into Italy. He owns publiquely that he do correspond, and return him all his money. That Richard hath been in some straits at the beginning; but relieved by his friends. That he goes by another name, but do not disguise himself, nor deny himself to any man that challenges him. He tells me, for certain, that offers had been made to the old man, of marriage between the King and his daughter, to have obliged him, but he would not. He thinks (with me) that it never was in his power to bring in the King with the consent of any of his officers about him; and that he scorned to bring him in as Monk did, to secure himself and deliver every body else. When I told him of what I found writ in a French book of one Monsieur Sorbiere, that gives an account of his observations herein England; among other things he says, that it is reported that Cromwell did, in his life-time, transpose many of the bodies of the Kings of England from one grave to another, and that by that means it is not known certainly whether the head that is now set up upon a post be that of Cromwell, or of one of the Kings; Mr. White tells me that he believes he never had so poor a low thought in him to trouble himself about it. He says the hand of God is much to be seen; that all his children are in good condition enough as to estate, and that their relations that betrayed their family are all now either hanged or very miserable.

an absence of red in the war
is a white lie

thin as corn
the bodies of the poor

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 13 October 1664.

When the rain stops at last so many skins
cover the drenched ground, though small

unripened fruit still cling
high on the tree— as if difficulty

never changes the heart of things.
I learned that lesson late and now am wary,

though the light that rings the world
when the sun returns allows me to forget

from time to time how I labor, how we
aren’t spared— How the fire, when it comes,

and the winds, will pass like twin flames from one
mouth absorbed only by its own shimmering.

There was a man who held his wife in his arms
in the water, in the deepest part of the pool,

hoping the two of them together would make
an alloy to survive that bright

encroaching. I know how hard it is
to give up the habit of persistence—

We want to pray and not surrender,
we want to trace a wide alchemical circle

inside of which sorrow might find
the strength to abandon itself.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

When the caldera breaks open
again, everything will telescope

to the immensity of our fears
then scale back so that we might know

intensely, the truths of the world
we refused to see at last— In that

precise instant, before our shared
oblivion, the soft but sharp edges

of jasmine opened by heat; and the emerald
currents our bodies never completely

surrendered to, though our souls were thirstier
than fish. In a dream I saw the air

waterfall with the most transparent dying
of orchids, with the scales of a rare

white python uncoiling from the roof
of the world. It didn’t rain

anymore; and there were no more winds
or wildfires. There was a road

shiny as foil on which we lay
side by side, looking for the moon.

By then it didn’t matter if we forged
our travel documents or if our feet

were unclean. By then the word
insurance ceased to matter.

By then we would have— should have—
bent to kiss like a beloved child

every bone wearing shackles
stacked in the ditch.

“…to tell someone that you lived,
and this is how it was.” ~ Sean Thomas Dougherty

If I count the time I’ve spent
living in this body minus the years
spent trying to summon the fragments
it left behind, I wind up with string
the color of smoke, a plume dark
as a dream of birds rowing the air,
silvering the night with their cries—
What kind of promise is it to say
everything’s made beautiful and sleek
by effort, though it never arrives?
My desire is also perpetually disheveled
by desire. Yet if I count the morsels
of bread and meat that touched my tongue,
they would only be proof of my shame—
Who can tell what the gods throw
in the water for sport, and how to fashion
a net to bring it back? How could I thrive
in this body while my other body, my heart,
rocked itself to sleep in a silent house?

This morning all the morning at my office ordering things against my journey to-morrow. At noon to the Coffeehouse, where very good discourse.
For newes, all say De Ruyter is gone to Guinny before us. Sir J. Lawson is come to Portsmouth; and our fleete is hastening all speed: I mean this new fleete. Prince Rupert with his is got into the Downes.
At home dined with me W. Joyce and a friend of his. W. Joyce will go with me to Brampton. After dinner I out to Mr. Bridges, the linnen draper, and evened with (him) for 100 pieces of callico, and did give him 208l. 18s., which I now trust the King for, but hope both to save the King money and to get a little by it to boot.
Thence by water up and down all the timber yards to look out some Dram timber, but can find none for our turne at the price I would have; and so I home, and there at my office late doing business against my journey to clear my hands of every thing for two days.
So home and to supper and bed.

coffee is our new speed
joy in 100 pieces

but none at the price of a journey
to a thin bed

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 12 October 1664.