Chrysophyllum cainito

Darkly violet, warm and musky,
globes we plucked from the tree

—quick plunder that bulged
from the hems of our t-shirts,

their sap already starting
to run and thicken. Each summer

we scaled the tree— Caimito
for the pucker and milk of flesh,

for the promised body buried
as a star in the apple’s belly.

Up betimes and to my office, and there all the morning, only stepped up to see my wife and her dancing master at it, and I think after all she will do pretty well at it. So to dinner, Mr. Hunt dining with us, and so to the office, where we sat late, and then I to my office casting up my Lord’s sea accounts over again, and putting them in order for payment, and so home to supper and to bed.

up step up
to see a dancing master

inkwell at the office
where the sea counts for a bed


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 28 April 1663.

I threw
everything of myself

into the mix, hoping
to rise

as the elements rose—
Into the bubbling well

I dove with my new
immigrant’s papers, my best

pair of shoes, my two
pieces of luggage and change

from the cab that idled
in the drive while I checked

the address I clutched
in one hand. When ice

spangled the branches
I steadied my not yet

automatic heart,
making it promises.

I thought of bodies
floating through the cabin,

their smiles miniature moons
etched on glass.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Up betimes and to my office, where doing business alone a good while till people came about business to me.
Will Griffin tells me this morning that Captain Browne, Sir W. Batten’s brother-in-law, is dead of a blow given him two days ago by a seaman, a servant of his, being drunk, with a stone striking him on the forehead, for which I am sorry, he having a good woman and several small children.
At the office all the morning, at noon dined at home with my wife, merry, and after dinner by water to White Hall; but found the Duke of York gone to St. James’s for this summer; and thence with Mr. Coventry, to whose chamber I went, and Sir W. Pen up to the Duke’s closett. And a good while with him about our Navy business; and so I to White Hall, and there alone a while with my Lord Sandwich discoursing about his debt to the Navy, wherein he hath given me some things to resolve him in. Thence to my Lord’s lodging, and thither came Creed to me, and he and I walked a great while in the garden, and thence to an alehouse in the market place to drink fine Lambeth ale, and so to Westminster Hall, and after walking there a great while, home by coach, where I found Mary gone from my wife, she being too high for her, though a very good servant, and my boy too will be going in a few days, for he is not for my family, he is grown so out of order and not to be ruled, and do himself, against his brother’s counsel, desire to be gone, which I am sorry for, because I love the boy and would be glad to bring him to good.
At home with my wife and Ashwell talking of her going into the country this year, wherein we had like to have fallen out, she thinking that I have a design to have her go, which I have not, and to let her stay here I perceive will not be convenient, for she expects more pleasure than I can give her here, and I fear I have done very ill in letting her begin to learn to dance.
The Queen (which I did not know) it seems was at Windsor, at the late St. George’s feast there; and the Duke of Monmouth dancing with her with his hat in his hand, the King came in and kissed him, and made him put on his hat, which every body took notice of.
After being a while at my office home to supper and to bed, my Will being come home again after being at his father’s all the last week taking physique.

dead things lodging
in the garden grown out of order

a desire to be gone
which I am sorry for

like a sign in the wind
dancing with no will


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 27 April 1663.

I said bookends
but I meant a certain street:
the market at one end,
the post office at the other.

*

The smell of rain
above a dusty track
where ponies and the pony
boys wait for tourists.

*

Have you ever been
a passenger on a bus,
one side completely open?
The road, bent around a cliff.

*

The goats eat,
sure-footed, among
the rocky outcrop.
No one charters them.

*

Behind glass, mouths
open to sing a chorus
in their empty orchestra.
Trays of beer and hot peanuts.

*

MacArthur Park is always
melting in the dark.
From the promontory, the sea
is visible on clear days.

*

The last time I was there,
I lifted the latch
off the gate. I said
I’m going instead of goodbye.

*

(Lord’s-day). Lay pretty long in bed talking with my wife, and then up and set to the making up of my monthly accounts, but Tom coming, with whom I was angry for botching my camlott coat, to tell me that my father and he would dine with me, and that my father was at our church, I got me ready and had a very good sermon of a country minister upon “How blessed a thing it is for brethren to live together in unity!” So home and all to dinner, and then would have gone by coach to have seen my Lord Sandwich at Chelsey if the man would have taken us, but he denying it we staid at home, and I all the afternoon upon my accounts, and find myself worth full 700l., for which I bless God, it being the most I was ever yet worth in money.
In the evening (my father being gone to my brothers to lie to-night) my wife, Ashwell, and the boy and I, and the dogg, over the water and walked to Half-way house, and beyond into the fields, gathering of cowslipps, and so to Half-way house, with some cold lamb we carried with us, and there supped, and had a most pleasant walk back again, Ashwell all along telling us some parts of their mask at Chelsey School, which was very pretty, and I find she hath a most prodigious memory, remembering so much of things acted six or seven years ago.
So home, and after reading my vows, being sleepy, without prayers to bed, for which God forgive me!

who am I
to live in unity

denying all the others
we carried with us

the mask remembering
things acted years ago
in my sleep


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 26 April 1663.

We were raised to eat close
to the bone of every animal

brought to our lips—
before that, we singed

their skins and set these out
to ripen. Doesn’t this explain

our melancholy nature?
Every suit that comes back

from the tailor reminds us,
and every filmy garment

into which we slip our arms
before lying down in bed.

Through the alley-way,
a child my age carries

a blue bowl, a plate of salt
and unripe mangos, a sheaf

of old comic books rented
from the house at the end

of the row. Under the clothes-
lines dripping laundry, she

and her friends gather
to read the afternoon away.

I want to join them, thumb
through black and white

pages soft as sawdust to read
about the girl who swallows a stone

and turns into an avenging
hero. I believe in such things

especially since they are never
within my reach, here in this house

of windows— each a surface
my face has pressed against.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Good books.

Up betimes and to my vyall and song book a pretty while, and so to my office, and there we sat all the morning. Among other things Sir W. Batten had a mind to cause Butler (our chief witness in the business of Field, whom we did force back from an employment going to sea to come back to attend our law sute) to be borne as a mate on the Rainbow in the Downes in compensation for his loss for our sakes. This he orders an order to be drawn by Mr. Turner for, and after Sir J. Minnes, Sir W. Batten, and Sir W. Pen had signed it, it came to me and I was going to put it up into my book, thinking to consider of it and give them my opinion upon it before I parted with it, but Sir W. Pen told me I must sign it or give it him again, for it should not go without my hand. I told him what I meant to do, whereupon Sir W. Batten was very angry, and in a great heat (which will bring out any thing which he has in his mind, and I am glad of it, though it is base in him to have a thing so long in his mind without speaking of it, though I am glad this is the worst, for if he had worse it would out as well as this some time or other) told me that I should not think as I have heretofore done, make them sign orders and not sign them myself. Which what ignorance or worse it implies is easy to judge, when he shall sign to things (and the rest of the board too as appears in this business) for company and not out of their judgment for. After some discourse I did convince them that it was not fit to have it go, and Sir W. Batten first, and then the rest, did willingly cancel all their hands and tear the order, for I told them, Butler being such a rogue as I know him, and we have all signed him to be to the Duke, it will be in his power to publish this to our great reproach, that we should take such a course as this to serve ourselves in wronging the King by putting him into a place he is no wise capable of, and that in an Admiral ship.
At noon we rose, Sir W. Batten ashamed and vexed, and so home to dinner, and after dinner walked to the old Exchange and so all along to Westminster Hall, White Hall, my Lord Sandwich’s lodgings, and going by water back to the Temple did pay my debts in several places in order to my examining my accounts tomorrow to my great content. So in the evening home, and after supper (my father at my brother’s) and merrily practising to dance, which my wife hath begun to learn this day of Mr. Pembleton, but I fear will hardly do any great good at it, because she is conceited that she do well already, though I think no such thing.
So to bed.
At Westminster Hall, this day, I buy a book lately printed and licensed by Dr. Stradling, the Bishop of London’s chaplin, being a book discovering the practices and designs of the papists, and the fears of some of our own fathers of the Protestant church heretofore of the return to Popery as it were prefacing it.
The book is a very good book; but forasmuch as it touches one of the Queenmother’s fathers confessors, the Bishop, which troubles many good men and members of Parliament, hath called it in, which I am sorry for.
Another book I bought, being a collection of many expressions of the great Presbyterian Preachers upon publique occasions, in the late times, against the King and his party, as some of Mr. Marshall, Case, Calamy, Baxter, &c., which is good reading now, to see what they then did teach, and the people believe, and what they would seem to believe now.
Lastly, I did hear that the Queen is much grieved of late at the King’s neglecting her, he having not supped once with her this quarter of a year, and almost every night with my Lady Castlemaine; who hath been with him this St. George’s feast at Windsor, and came home with him last night; and, which is more, they say is removed as to her bed from her own home to a chamber in White Hall, next to the King’s own; which I am sorry to hear, though I love her much.

a book of rain
in the book of my hand

a thing so long
it is not fit to publish

I read the book of the ear
prefacing the book of the confessor

I am sorry for the book
I am reading now

what people believe
and grieve in it


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 25 April 1663.

In the yard, the fig tree has begun to put forth fruit.
They look like little green lightbulbs affixed to the branches.
The leaves, too, put forth their distinct five-fingered green.
The light these days seems kinder, somehow more golden—
late afternoons outlining things with a kind of halo.
Some days I feel almost on the edge of that familiar
brimming over. Some days the shiver that runs up
my spine seems like a summons I don’t need to fear.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.