Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning. At noon comes my uncle Thomas and his daughter Mary about getting me to pay them the 30l. due now, but payable in law to her husband. I did give them the best answer I could, and so parted, they not desiring to stay to dinner. After dinner I down to Deptford, and there did business, and so back to my office, where very late busy, and so home to supper and to bed.

morning comes out
in the best art

no ring to own or business
to busy up


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 22 October 1664.

Up and by coach to Mr. Cole’s, and there conferred with him about some law business, and so to Sir W. Turner’s, and there bought my cloth, coloured, for a suit and cloake, to line with plush the cloak, which will cost me money, but I find that I must go handsomely, whatever it costs me, and the charge will be made up in the fruit it brings.
Thence to the Coffee-house and ‘Change, and so home to dinner, and then to the office all the afternoon, whither comes W. Howe to see me, being come from, and going presently back to sea with my Lord. Among other things he tells me Mr. Creed is much out of favour with my Lord from his freedom of talke and bold carriage, and other things with which my Lord is not pleased, but most I doubt his not lending my Lord money, and Mr. Moore’s reporting what his answer was I doubt in the worst manner. But, however, a very unworthy rogue he is, and, therefore, let him go for one good for nothing, though wise to the height above most men I converse with.
In the evening (W. Howe being gone) comes Mr. Martin, to trouble me again to get him a Lieutenant’s place for which he is as fit as a foole can be. But I put him off like an asse, as he is, and so setting my papers and books in order: I home to supper and to bed.

a color change
in the sea at evening
setting my books in order


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 21 October 1664.

In third grade, for a genealogy project,
I came home with a sheet on which was pre-
printed a simple family tree, and questions:
what were the names of my grandparents
on either side? when were they born,
what did they do, when did they die?
On mother’s side, I knew how Lorenzo,
her father, left his farm at nineteen
and came to the city for work. He was
a cook for four years in Baguio at a hotel
built in 1909; my daughter and I stayed there
when we visited in the summer of 2015.
His first wife was Filomena— I never saw
her picture, but her name sounded like flowers.
She died young of a heart attack, from news
of her brother’s death during the war.
His second wife was Victorina; visiting us
in my childhood, she brought with her a warm
tobacco smell that clung to her skirts;
when she sat in a dining chair she liked
to draw up her knees and eat with her hands.
After the war, Lorenzo went into business
with a friend and put up two small barbershops,
one of them named Lucky and the other, Symphony.
I never knew about Lucky, but I do have a dim
memory of Symphony: the smell of shaving foam
and hot towels, the men tipping up their chins
at the blade’s approach. Little piles of hair
gathered at the base of each chair, bright
red-white-and-blue striped helixes revolving
in the barber’s pole outside the door.
No one could tell me much about my grand-
father on the other side— least of all
my tightlipped father. Only his name, Felix;
how he was father’s father, but not my aunt
Sofia’s. Father’s mother Irene stayed with us
part of the year. She never liked my mother,
poor farmer’s daughter. At the end of her life,
bedridden, it was only my father’s name she
called out in the night. It was never
him but my mother who had to bring water,
the chamberpot, a change of sheets.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Sandman.

(next section in this series; a partly found poem)

Written on water: what describes a debt that will
in all likelihood never be paid back.
Meaning when someone borrows money or goods you sigh,
knowing that may be the last you’ll see of it.
Meaning a ledger of blue-green lines, always moving.
Meaning erasure; meaning hiding or wavering.

That joke about how many islands there are,
depending on whether it’s high or low tide.
If it could never be written in the first place,
what is it that’s erased?
Should you leave town, change your name?
Write on the envelopes that come
in the mail: Return to sender?

60-70% of the body’s weight is water.
12 gallons per day sustains the average person’s
water needs— including washing, bathing, cooking.
In third world countries, more than half
the population has no access to clean water.

It is well known that one could die
of thirst.There are also cases of death
from water intoxication.
In 2007 a woman died after drinking more
than 6 liters of water in 3 hours.
It was for a contest called “Hold Your Wee
for a Wii,” sponsored by a radio station.
The prize would have been a Nintendo game console.

Mostly women and children spend more than an aggregate
of 200 million hours per day collecting water for their families.
One pail in each hand. A length of cloth twisted into a ring
to help carry a jug or basin on the head.
Training for these things can start as young as 5.
There are dances involving the balancing of glasses
of water on each open palm, and one on the head.
Also, fire might substitute for water—
a votive, a flaming bowl.

The cameras are waiting.
Don’t spill one drop.

Up and to the office, where all the morning. At noon my uncle Thomas came, dined with me, and received some money of me. Then I to my office, where I took in with me Bagwell’s wife, and there I caressed her, and find her every day more and more coming with good words and promises of getting her husband a place, which I will do. So we parted, and I to my Lord Sandwich at his lodgings, and after a little stay away with Mr. Cholmely to Fleete Streete; in the way he telling me that Tangier is like to be in a bad condition with this same Fitzgerald, he being a man of no honour, nor presence, nor little honesty, and endeavours: to raise the Irish and suppress the English interest there; and offend every body, and do nothing that I hear of well, which I am sorry for.
Thence home, by the way taking two silver tumblers home, which I have bought, and so home, and there late busy at my office, and then home to supper and to bed.

where am I with my bag of sand
like a bad condition
with this little nest to press rest
every body a nothing that I am taking
home and home and home


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 20 October 1664.

When a stitch burns
in my side, I pray
to the fates who hold
the keys to life.

I remember a dream in which
white flowers open after a year
of shutting themselves in.
In a drawer, a double string

of red beads. When I undo
the mouth that holds the two ends
together, their falling repeats
the syllables of rice or rain.

Up and to my office all the morning. At noon dined at home; then abroad by coach to buy for the office “Herne upon the Statute of Charitable Uses,” in order to the doing something better in the Chest than we have done, for I am ashamed to see Sir W. Batten possess himself so long of so much money as he hath done. Coming home, weighed, my two silver flaggons at Stevens’s. They weigh 212 oz. 27 dwt., which is about 50l., at 5s. per oz., and then they judge the fashion to be worth above 5s. per oz. more — nay, some say 10s. an ounce the fashion. But I do not believe, but yet am sorry to see that the fashion is worth so much, and the silver come to no more.
So home and to my office, where very busy late. My wife at Mercer’s mother’s, I believe, W. Hewer with them, which I do not like, that he should ask my leave to go about business, and then to go and spend his time in sport, and leave me here busy. To supper and to bed, my wife coming in by and by, which though I know there was no hurt in it; I do not like.

I am ashamed to possess
so much I judge to be ash

but am sorry to see
no more of it

like the sport
I know as hurt


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 19 October 1664.

~ a partly found poem

Rainwater is best collected as it’s falling out in the open: not running through a gutter or a drain.

Water from a creek or river might seem ok, until you think of laundry and soap, villagers bathing at one end.

The wealthy pay to have a drill go straight down to the water table; then they lay pipes, devise connections to tanks in their fenced-in backyards.

To render water safe, we collect what we can in bottles, in pails, in metal drums.

The women improvise filters: squares of cloth cut from cotton undershirts.

In any case, we always boil the water on the stove.

*

I remember having a flush toilet in our home only after I turned 3.

It took a few years until all the glazed bathroom tile was put in.

Before that, the nakedness of cemented cinderblock walls; a high window with bars.

When grandfather brought a sow from his farm to fatten for a birthday, they penned it in the unfinished shower stall.

Years later, rushing in to wash off meconium stains late in my first pregnancy, I thought of that pig and its wet grunting through the night.

*

Traveling in foreign countries, I’m warned not to drink the water.

To keep the mouth shut, standing underneath the shower stream.

Not to swallow the residue in the mouth after brushing.

In St. Petersburg, they also said not to drink the water.

The only thing I could find was mineral.

Order Coke or Sprite, suggested my mother; no ice.

*

Dorado: Spanish, from the past participle of dorar (to gild); Latin, deaurare, from de- + aurum (gold).

*

In Dorado, Puerto Rico, in the aftermath of hurricane Maria.

They’ve fixed a broken fence, secured an exposed spigot, and put up a sign saying Peligro – Danger.

Before that, how many had already drawn the toxic water for bathing, washing, drinking?

The well at Maguayo #4 is part of the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Superfund site.

The US Environmental Protection Agency previously marked the site as toxic; it warned of the presence of industrial chemicals, including tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene, known to have serious impacts on health including damage to the liver and increased risk of cancer.

*

Here are some of the most expensive waters in the world:

Acqua di Cristallo Tributo a Modigliani – $60,000 per 750 ml
This is probably the most expensive bottled water in the world. Costing €60,000 for a bottle of 750 ml, this ought to quench your thirst and empty your pockets. The water is from France and Fiji. The bottle is 24 carat solid gold and was designed by Fernando Altamirano of Tequila Ley, who is also credited with the design of the Cognac Dudognon Heritage Henri IV, thought to be the most expensive bottle of cognac in the world.

Kona Nigari – $402 per 750 ml
Kona Nigari is a bottled water sold in Japan. It is collected from a spring around 2,000 metres under the sea off the coast of the island of Hawaii and is said to have health benefits.

Fillico – $219 per 750 ml
The bottles are made to look like chess pieces, in particular the king and queen. This is because Fillico water bottles are topped with golden crowns associated with royalty.

Bling H2O – $40 per 750 ml
The bottle is made out of Swarovski crystals and corked like a bottle of champagne. The price actually seems rather low, when compared to some of the other waters we’ve seen.

Veen 5 – $23 per 750 ml
Veen water is from Finland and arguably the purest water in the world.

10 Thousand BC – $14 per 750 ml
The water comes from a far-off and exotic place off the coast of Canada, so far that it would take a few days to get to the location the water is bottled.

AquaDeco – $12 per 750 ml
The name alone suggests that this water is heavily invested in style. But this is not a case of style over substance. In fact, in 2007 it won the gold medal for that year’s best non-carbonated spring water.

Lauquen Artes Mineral Water – $6 per 750 ml
It comes from an aquifer 1,500 feet deep in a remote part of the South American Andes. Another water that uses the purity and cleanliness of its source of origin as a stand-out feature.

Tasmanian Rain – $5 per 750 ml
As the name says, this water is sourced from the rain of Tasmania, the island off the south of the Australian mainland. What makes it unusual is that it’s collected in the bottle straight out of the sky.

Fine – $5 per 750 ml
From a spring in Japan, on the slopes of Mount Fuji, one of the most beautiful places in the world. The spring is located 600 metres below the mountain belt and the water is particularly pure.

*

In the story, Midas is the guy who asks that everything he touches be turned to gold.

Golf courses of gold, La-Z-Boy loungers in gold, golden statues of naked boys and women.

Gold leaves in the garden, gold furniture in a golden house, gold crap in the toilet.

All the sudden bling, rooms of high culture and kitsch: gold paintings, beaver hats, condoms.

He is so mindlessly happy he hugs his golden-haired daughter, teetering in gold stilettos.

And then he sits down to eat and drink.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Harvester.

Up and to the office, where among other things we made a very great contract with Sir W. Warren for 3,000 loade of timber. At noon dined at home. In the afternoon to the Fishery, where, very confused and very ridiculous, my Lord Craven’s proceedings, especially his finding fault with Sir J. Collaton and Colonell Griffin’s report in the accounts of the lottery-men. Thence I with Mr. Gray in his coach to White Hall, but the King and Duke being abroad, we returned to Somersett House. In discourse I find him a very worthy and studious gentleman in the business of trade, and among-other things he observed well to me, how it is not the greatest wits, but the steady man, that is a good merchant: he instanced in Ford and Cocke, the last of whom he values above all men as his oracle, as Mr. Coventry do Mr. Jolliffe. He says that it is concluded among merchants, that where a trade hath once been and do decay, it never recovers again, and therefore that the manufacture of cloath of England will never come to esteem again; that, among other faults, Sir Richard Ford cannot keepe a secret, and that it is so much the part of a merchant to be guilty of that fault that the Duke of Yoke is resolved to commit no more secrets to the merchants of the Royall Company; that Sir Ellis Layton is, for a speech of forty words, the wittiest man that ever he knew in his life, but longer he is nothing, his judgment being nothing at all, but his wit most absolute. At Somersett House he carried me in, and there I saw the Queene’s new rooms, which are most stately and nobly furnished; and there I saw her, and the Duke of Yorke and Duchesse were there. The Duke espied me, and came to me, and talked with me a very great while about our contract this day with Sir W. Warren, and among other things did with some contempt ask whether we did except Polliards, which Sir W. Batten did yesterday (in spite, as the Duke I believe by my Lord Barkely do well enough know) among other things in writing propose.
Thence home by coach, it raining hard, and to my office, where late, then home to supper and to bed.
This night the Dutch Embassador desired and had an audience of the King. What the issue of it was I know not. Both sides I believe desire peace, but neither will begin, and so I believe a warr will follow. The Prince is with his fleet at Portsmouth, and the Dutch are making all preparations for warr.

a raven on the road
studious in the business of decay

the secret to life is being
no use at all


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 18 October 1664.

In a class on multicultural literature a boy in the front row
says he imagines coconuts falling in my voice.

It’s winter in the midwest. It’s warm in the classroom,
but not like the tropics. I like the hush of snow
but only from behind glass. I wonder, does he

actually know what it sounds like when coconuts
fall to the ground? Their meat is sweet; the water

sweeter. Every part useful beyond itself, beyond the moment
something detached it from its nest, whether by accident
or design. Sugar and oil. Rope and fiber. A husk

with which to buff a wooden floor. Occasionally I have
trouble with some words— where does the accent fall again?

The lapses happen, I think, as an effect of bad timing:
when the mind hasn’t quite expected the gap it must leap over
to get to the other language. And then it’s just there.

Iambic Pen.TA.meter. PEN.ta.meter? Books say
this is the closest approximation to meter, if everyday

human speech were scanned. PRO.so.dy. Pro.SO.dy? I
was amazed to overhear two women in the hallway figure out
what exact part of Canada each was from just from listening

to the way the other spoke. When the British writer
came to teach at my university for a week, everyone

was charmed by her pixie haircut, her obviously
British accent. When I wrote about the river, she said,
I took long, looping walks; I’d stop to look at a bridge,

the architecture, the vegetation. It seemed the perfect
structuring device— you make a digression, you come back

to the main theme. Exactly what I’ve been talking about,
I said triumphantly to my writing class. Only, one student offered,
she said it so much more clearly than you. Would you like the analysis

in French deconstructionist parlance, or postcolonial theory? The builder
leaves but the hammering continues. The flags of the old order continue

to fly, even when, supposedly, they’ve been pulled down. Violent
hierarchies: the signified over the signifier; speech over writing.
The family of dual oppositions eternally replenishing itself.

Watch my mind leap in the open, delighting at what it finds.
The day I earned my graduate degree, four nurses, one

greying accountant, and one policeman from the community
came to stand in presence for every person in my family,
living or dead, that could not be there. At parties,

the accountant and his wife, who were from another
province, liked to ask: How do you say this in your language

up north? Or they told stories of the war, when they crept
out of their bombed homes to forage in the fields at night.
They ate whatever they could find, skin and substance—

The mouth opens in its own efficient way to take in the world.
Overripe bananas. Frogs singing in the ditch after rain.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.