Up and at the office all the morning. To the ‘Change at noon, and among other things discoursed with Sir William Warren what I might do to get a little money by carrying of deales to Tangier, and told him the opportunity I have there of doing it, and he did give me some advice, though not so good as he would have done at any other time of the year, but such as I hope to make good use of, and get a little money by.
So to Sir G. Carteret’s to dinner, and he and I and Captain Cocke all alone, and good discourse, and thence to a Committee of Tangier at White Hall, and so home, where I found my wife not well, and she tells me she thinks she is with child, but I neither believe nor desire it. But God’s will be done!
So to my office late, and home to supper and to bed; having got a strange cold in my head, by flinging off my hat at dinner, and sitting with the wind in my neck.

no other money no other time
to make use of all alone

my wife tells me she thinks
she is with child

flinging off my hat
I sit with the wind

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 22 September 1664.

No one wants to talk about the woman
in the upstairs room, how she saves
every last scrap and item that has

anything to do with her former life;
how she has come down, as they say,
in the world. No one wants to deal

with the tirades, the obsessive
hoarding and impulse buying, her stubborn
insistence that thirty umbrellas on hand

are ideal for emergencies. Does she
remember the year she refused to be
alone in the kitchen, the evening

her friend came to dinner, took a sip
of coffee then fell dead on the floor?
The leathery heart swings around on itself

like a revolving door. Someone’s here to scrub
the tiles and carry out garbage. She can’t understand
exactly how things aren’t the same as before.

Up, and by coach to Mr. Povy’s, and there got him to signe the payment of Captain Tayler’s bills for the remainder of freight for the Eagle, wherein I shall be gainer about 30l., thence with him to Westminster by coach to Houseman’s [Huysman] the great picture drawer, and saw again very fine pictures, and have his promise, for Mr. Povy’s sake, to take pains in what picture I shall set him about, and I think to have my wife’s. But it is a strange thing to observe and fit for me to remember that I am at no time so unwilling to part with money as when I am concerned in the getting of it most, as I thank God of late I have got more in this month, viz. near 250l., than ever I did in half a year before in my life, I think.
Thence to White Hall with him, and so walked to the old Exchange and back to Povy’s to dinner, where great and good company; among others Sir John Skeffington, whom I knew at Magdalen College, a fellow-commoner, my fellow-pupil, but one with whom I had no great acquaintance, he being then, God knows, much above me. Here I was afresh delighted with Mr. Povy’s house and pictures of perspective, being strange things to think how they do delude one’s eye, that methinks it would make a man doubtful of swearing that ever he saw any thing.
Thence with him to St. James’s, and so to White Hall to a Tangier Committee, and hope I have light of another opportunity of getting a little money if Sir W. Warren will use me kindly for deales to Tangier, and with the hopes went joyfully home, and there received Captain Tayler’s money, received by Will to-day, out of which (as I said above) I shall get above 30l.. So with great comfort to bed, after supper.
By discourse this day I have great hopes from Mr. Coventry that the Dutch and we shall not fall out.

to draw a picture I take pains
to observe more than before

ink all in a fresh light
with perspective to delude one’s eye

it would make a man doubt
that ever he saw anything

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 21 September 1664.

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning, at noon to the ‘Change, and there met by appointment with Captain Poyntz, who hath some place, or title to a place, belonging to gameing, and so I discoursed with him about the business of our improving of the Lotterys, to the King’s benefit, and that of the Fishery, and had some light from him in the business, and shall, he says, have more in writing from him. So home to dinner and then abroad to the Fishing Committee at Fishmongers’ Hall, and there sat and did some business considerable, and so up and home, and there late at my office doing much business, and I find with great delight that I am come to my good temper of business again. God continue me in it. So home to supper, it being washing day, and to bed.

the long game is out
the lottery is in

shall the road and the light
come again to be ash

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 20 September 1664.

Two waist-high jars by the door,
small hulls of frosted glass

carefully detached from a lamp
fixture. On the shelf, a pair

of short lidded boxes: one marked
Sugar, the other marked Flour.

I listened to the woman in the armchair
tell of her walk on the shore last week

and of the beached calves she came upon—
How the water kept licking at their grey

linen forms out of habit. I asked
if they were dead. She said of course

they were. And then: But I don’t know—
don’t they frequently need to surface

in order to breathe? She closed her eyes
then, said she was tired. I cleaned the sink,

wiped the table, put new sheets on the bed.
I tried to move as quietly as I could.


In response to Via Negativa: Bedding.

Up, my wife and I having a little anger about her woman already, she thinking that I take too much care of her at table to mind her (my wife) of cutting for her, but it soon over, and so up and with Sir W. Batten and Sir W. Pen to St. James’s, and there did our business with the Duke, and thence homeward straight, calling at the Coffee-house, and there had very good discourse with Sir —— Blunt and Dr. Whistler about Egypt and other things. So home to dinner, my wife having put on to-day her winter new suit of moyre, which is handsome, and so after dinner I did give her 15l. to lay out in linen and necessaries for the house and to buy a suit for Pall, and I myself to White Hall to a Tangier Committee, where Colonell Reames hath brought us so full and methodical an account of all matters there, that I never have nor hope to see the like of any publique business while I live again. The Committee up, I to Westminster to Jervas’s, and spoke with Jane; who I find cold and not so desirous of a meeting as before, and it is no matter, I shall be the freer from the inconvenience that might follow thereof, besides offending God Almighty and neglecting my business. So by coach home and to my office, where late, and so to supper and to bed.
I met with Dr. Pierce to-day, who, speaking of Dr. Frazier’s being so earnest to have such a one (one Collins) go chyrurgeon to the Prince’s person will have him go in his terms and with so much money put into his hands, he tells me (when I was wondering that Frazier should order things with the Prince in that confident manner) that Frazier is so great with my Lady Castlemayne, and Stewart, and all the ladies at Court, in helping to slip their calfes when there is occasion, and with the great men in curing of their claps that he can do what he please with the King, in spite of any man, and upon the same score with the Prince; they all having more or less occasion to make use of him.
Sir G. Carteret tells me this afternoon that the Dutch are not yet ready to set out; and by that means do lose a good wind which would carry them out and keep us in, and moreover he says that they begin to boggle in the business, and he thinks may offer terms of peace for all this, and seems to argue that it will be well for the King too, and I pray God send it.
Colonell Reames did, among other things, this day tell me how it is clear that, if my Lord Tiviott had lived, he would have quite undone Tangier, or designed himself to be master of it. He did put the King upon most great, chargeable, and unnecessary works there, and took the course industriously to deter, all other merchants but himself to deal there, and to make both King and all others pay what he pleased for all that was brought thither.

little to whistle about
in her winter linen

like a cold surgeon curing us
of all unnecessary dust and ease

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 19 September 1664.

to have a heart in— not one that made
graveyards of streets where thousands of souls
rose up with the wings of a deranged congregation.
How terrible to think especially of the young
who’ll never get the chance to practice the simplest
acts of living: mornings in a schoolroom, chanting
the alphabet’s bellweather— M after L, X after
W; every dog belonging to its home, and not
to a shackle and chain. Who spends the days picking
through skins discarded by others, to find one pure morsel not
tainted with decay? Rejoice if you can for those who will see,
a split second before the blast goes off, a vision of their own
fate caught in the crosshairs of history. It’s a gift not easily
come by: to hear above the noise a clear note that summons
remembering; that makes a lake of all the nights we mourned,
over which we bend to surrender the empty boats of our hearts.


In response to Via Negativa: Contractor in hell.

~ Mellisuga helenae

It’s so quiet at night.
In these rooms, each one
prays in her own compartment

to whatever gods might listen
this side of the ocean. Don’t you
want to be accounted for too,

invited in: no longer the permanent
house guest, no longer the dark-
skinned maid with the chamois rag,

betrothed to furniture perennially
in need of polishing? The silences
don’t necessarily mean the saints

have retreated into their rose quartz
caverns, lain down in their fern-lined
crypts. If you see a butterfly or humming-

bird drumming on a plume for nectar,
think of what the soul must have been
before it fell into this world.


In response to Via Negativa: News Junkie.

(Lord’s day). Up and to church all of us. At noon comes Anthony and W. Joyce (their wives being in the country with my father) and dined with me very merry as I can be in such company. After dinner walked to Westminster (tiring them by the way, and so left them, Anthony in Cheapside and the other in the Strand), and there spent all the afternoon in the Cloysters as I had agreed with Jane Welsh, but she came not, which vexed me, staying till 5 o’clock, and then walked homeward, and by coach to the old Exchange, and thence to my aunt Wight’s, and invited her and my uncle to supper, and so home, and by and by they came, and we eat a brave barrel of oysters Mr. Povy sent me this morning, and very merry at supper, and so to prayers and to bed.
Last night it seems my aunt Wight did send my wife a new scarfe, laced, as a token for her many givings to her. It is true now and then we give them some toys, as oranges , &c., but my aime is to get myself something more from my uncle’s favour than this.

church can cloy
but not a clock

and so I pray
to be true now

give them some toy
but my aim is thin

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 18 September 1664.