It’s been less than three weeks since I returned from Cornwall, but already the alembic of memory is distilling the random incidents of that trip into stories fit for re-telling. One such story I’ve begun to think of as the Mystery of the Dead Hand. (more…)
If the brown dog lies
panting in the sun,
do you think that means
it’s hot? If the skies
are overcast, do you think
we’ll see the once-in-a-lifetime
alignment of the stars? If
there are villages three
days’ hike away but reachable only
through trails that hug the cliffs,
should we go to the trouble
of a costly expedition? Isn’t it all
the same to make up names
and numbers, invent a history
for those poor people huddled there,
one they couldn’t after all read?
This morning by appointment I went to my father, and after a morning draft he and I went to Dr. Williams, but he not within we went to Mrs. Terry, a daughter of Mr. Whately’s, who lately offered a proposal of her sister for a wife for my brother Tom, and with her we discoursed about and agreed to go to her mother this afternoon to speak with her, and in the meantime went to Will. Joyce’s and to an alehouse, and drank a good while together, he being very angry that his father Fenner will give him and his brother no more for mourning than their father did give him and my aunt at their mother’s death, and a very troublesome fellow I still find him to be, that his company ever wearys me. From thence about two o’clock to Mrs. Whately’s, but she being going to dinner we went to Whitehall and there staid till past three, and here I understand by Mr. Moore that my Lady Sandwich is brought to bed yesterday of a young Lady, and is very well. So to Mrs. Whately’s again, and there were well received, and she desirous to have the thing go forward, only is afeard that her daughter is too young and portion not big enough, but offers 200l. down with her. The girl is very well favoured, and a very child, but modest, and one I think will do very well for my brother: so parted till she hears from Hatfield from her husband, who is there; but I find them very desirous of it, and so am I. Hence home to my father’s, and I to the Wardrobe, where I supped with the ladies, and hear their mother is well and the young child, and so home.
My fat hat is an angry hat,
a troublesome hat, a weary hat,
a staid hat, a yesterday hat,
a war hat, a Big Brother hat.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 21 August 1661.
At the office in the morning and all the afternoon at home to put my papers in order. This day we come to some agreement with Sir R. Ford for his house to be added to the office to enlarge our quarters.
At the office
in the morning and all
is to add ice
to enlarge our art.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 20 August 1661.
“In the thin, soured soil,
a perfect endurance…” ~ Anna Ross
And what if I refuse to answer
to the order to stop and be searched,
to come like a dog with its tongue
hanging out when summoned
with two fingers of one hand?
And what if I refuse to open
my doors without warrant,
to get over it, to see
it was only a joke, just
a test, one more invisible
hoop to jump or be jumped?
And what if I’m not interested
in leftovers, the grudgingly
offered scraps, the free
meal that isn’t free? What if
I’ve kept an accounting
that doesn’t match your
claims, ledger books that show
where and when I didn’t get
what was due? But you
always change the rules,
the secret passwords,
the handshakes at the door
to the old boys’ club.
You circle your wagons
and act like you don’t
know what the fuck
I’m talking about.
Parade of vessels from across the seas, carrying
death and marketing schemes for the soul.
Lumber and hemp; tobacco, salt and spice: the measure
of a man’s or woman’s years of indentured service.
Land to till, forests to slash and burn.
The harvest that always goes to some other.
In the schoolhouse the foreign teacher turns
on her heel, confronts the monkey’s child.
The committee decides: You must not
have written this essay yourself, boy.
Rust that blooms across each hinge face
so the door never lies straight again.
Something that bends the grass
to flush out the hidden creatures.
Slick of oil all the way to the wharf.
Scritch of a match across granite.
At the office all the morning; at noon the children are sent for by their mother my Lady Sandwich to dinner, and my wife goes along with them by coach, and she to my father’s and dines there, and from thence with them to see Mrs. Cordery, who do invite them before my father goes into the country, and thither I should have gone too but that I am sent for to the Privy Seal, and there I found a thing of my Lord Chancellor’s to be sealed this afternoon, and so I am forced to go to Worcester House, where severall Lords are met in Council this afternoon. And while I am waiting there, in comes the King in a plain common riding-suit and velvet cap, in which he seemed a very ordinary man to one that had not known him. Here I staid till at last, hearing that my Lord Privy Seal had not the seal here, Mr. Moore and I hired a coach and went to Chelsy, and there at an alehouse sat and drank and past the time till my Lord Privy Seal came to his house, and so we to him and examined and sealed the thing, and so homewards, but when we came to look for our coach we found it gone, so we were fain to walk home afoot and saved our money.
We met with a companion that walked with us, and coming among some trees near the Neate houses, he began to whistle, which did give us some suspicion, but it proved that he that answered him was Mr. Marsh (the Lutenist) and his wife, and so we all walked to Westminster together, in our way drinking a while at my cost, and had a song of him, but his voice is quite lost.
So walked home, and there I found that my Lady do keep the children at home, and lets them not come any more hither at present, which a little troubles me to lose their company. This day my aunt Fenner dyed.
O mother, O wife,
in the country of Chance I am king
in a velvet cap.
I had a mine and sealed the thing
and save our money in trees,
which cost a song and keep
the children company.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 19 August 1661.
”The duende is not in the throat;
the duende climbs up inside you,
from the soles of the feet.” ~ Lorca
What a fever of documentation
our naked glistening inspires
in your ships’ logs, what a frenzy
of pointing fingers when you all
come ashore. Don’t deny
you want to graze the tips
of our women’s breasts
as they husk the grain
and carry our young on their hips.
Slim pretense of idols you set
against the gods, their dark
bodies like ours
standing sentinel in the fields.
When we dance our bodies
enter the fire.
Your falsehoods robed in piety
make us subaltern:
our heels mark time, coppered
by the dust of the earth.
Alloyed in the gleam
of history and its chains,
rows of us mourn in orchards
sowing and reaping for tables
where we won’t be made
welcome, where the lyric blood
in our veins cannot mark
the pure white cotton
of your daughters’ frocks;
where our tired brown bodies
roam at night, looking to escape
the judgments of the merciless.
(Lord’s day). To our own church in the morning and so home to dinner, where my father and Dr. Tom Pepys came to me to dine, and were very merry. After dinner I took my wife and Mr. Sidney to my Lady to see my Lord Hinchingbroke, who is now pretty well again, and sits up and walks about his chamber.
So I went to White Hall, and there hear that my Lord General Monk continues very ill: so I went to la belle Pierce and sat with her; and then to walk in St. James’s Park, and saw great variety of fowl which I never saw before and so home.
At night fell to read in “Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity,” which Mr. Moore did give me last Wednesday very handsomely bound; and which I shall read with great pains and love for his sake.
So to supper and to bed.
Into an ear of owl
with great pain and love
for his supper.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 18 August 1661.
At the Privy Seal, where we had a seal this morning. Then met with Ned Pickering, and walked with him into St. James’s Park (where I had not been a great while), and there found great and very noble alterations. And, in our discourse, he was very forward to complain and to speak loud of the lewdness and beggary of the Court, which I am sorry to hear, and which I am afeard will bring all to ruin again. So he and I to the Wardrobe to dinner, and after dinner Captain Ferrers and I to the Opera, and saw “The Witts” again, which I like exceedingly. The Queen of Bohemia was here, brought by my Lord Craven.
So the Captain and I and another to the Devil tavern and drank, and so by coach home. Troubled in mind that I cannot bring myself to mind my business, but to be so much in love of plays.
We have been at a great loss a great while for a vessel that I sent about a month ago with things of my Lord’s to Lynn, and cannot till now hear of them, but now we are told that they are put into Soale Bay, but to what purpose I know not.
At the park, a loud beggar
like the queen of Bohemia—
raven at play.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 17 August 1661.