But as always the taxicab
of history picks up its passengers, takes them where
they think they want to go; then leaves them there.
Current Events” by Luisa A. Igloria

Some people take the taxicab of history,
dingy with worn seats
and a strange smell that no one can identify.

Our rulers travel in their own vehicles,
a glamorous car with a crew of soldiers
to protect them from the ones they serve
or an airplane high above the land.

Many will take the Greyhound bus of history,
if they’re lucky. It can be crowded,
with a restroom too dreadful to use,
but at least the progress is usually swift and steady.

Most of us have no vehicle.
We walk our shoes to shreds as we trudge
across deserts that were once ancient seabeds.
We take that last desperate swim
between continents, the savage
sea creatures surrounding us no more harmful
than the predators left behind.

Up betimes, and Creed and I by water to Fleet Street, and my brother not being ready, he and I walked to the New Exchange, and there drank our morning draught of whay, the first I have done this year; but I perceive the lawyers come all in as they go to the Hall, and I believe it is very good.
So to my brother’s, and there I found my aunt James, a poor, religious, well-meaning, good soul, talking of nothing but God Almighty, and that with so much innocence that mightily pleased me. Here was a fellow that said grace so long like a prayer; I believe the fellow is a cunning fellow, and yet I by my brother’s desire did give him a crown, he being in great want, and, it seems, a parson among the fanatiques, and a cozen of my poor aunt’s, whose prayers she told me did do me good among the many good souls that did by my father’s desires pray for me when I was cut of the stone, and which God did hear, which I also in complaisance did own; but, God forgive me, my mind was otherwise. I had a couple of lobsters and some wine for her, and so, she going out of town to-day, and being not willing to come home with me to dinner, I parted and home, where we sat at the office all the morning, and after dinner all the afternoon till night, there at my office getting up the time that I have of late lost by not following my business, but I hope now to settle my mind again very well to my business.
So home, and after supper did wash my feet, and so to bed.

no change in the law
they believe is good

a soul with so much innocence
might pray to a stone

God is forgive me other-
wise

wine and night settle my mind
I wash my feet


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 30 May 1663.

This day is kept strictly as a holy-day, being the King’s Coronation. We lay long in bed, and it rained very hard, rain and hail, almost all the morning. By and by Creed and I abroad, and called at several churches; and it is a wonder to see, and by that to guess the ill temper of the City at this time, either to religion in general, or to the King, that in some churches there was hardly ten people in the whole church, and those poor people.
So to a coffee-house, and there in discourse hear the King of France is likely to be well again.
So home to dinner, and out by water to the Royall Theatre, but they not acting to-day, then to the Duke’s house, and there saw “The Slighted Mayde,” wherein Gosnell acted Pyramena, a great part, and did it very well, and I believe will do it better and better, and prove a good actor.
The play is not very excellent, but is well acted, and in general the actors, in all particulars, are better than at the other house.
Thence to the Cocke alehouse, and there having drunk, sent them with Creed to see the German Princess, at the Gatehouse, at Westminster, and I to my brother’s, and thence to my uncle Fenner’s to have seen my aunt James (who has been long in town and goes away to-morrow and I not seen her), but did find none of them within, which I was glad of, and so back to my brother’s to speak with him, and so home, and in my way did take two turns forwards and backwards through the Fleete Ally to see a couple of pretty whores that stood off the doors there, and God forgive me I could scarce stay myself from going into their houses with them, so apt is my nature to evil after once, as I have these two days, set upon pleasure again.
So home and to my office to put down these two days’ journalls, then home again and to supper, and then Creed and I to bed with good discourse, only my mind troubled about my spending my time so badly for these seven or eight days; but I must impute it to the disquiet that my mind has been in of late about my wife, and for my going these two days to plays, for which I have paid the due forfeit by money and abating the times of going to plays at Court, which I am now to remember that I have cleared all my times that I am to go to Court plays to the end of this month, and so June is the first time that I am to begin to reckon.

rain all morning
hardly ten people in church

coffee-house like a theater
where the play is not well acted

on my way back through the alley
a couple of pretty whores

I go into the house
as quiet as money


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 29 May 1663.

Do you balance
the scales on a daily
basis, or do you leave
a little bit to chance?
Yesterday I pressed
a mint cutting into
a bowl of soil. I pulled
a leaf stalk out of a pot
of African violets, its pale
roots ready for transplanting.
In the shed near the watery
alley-way, a feral cat
turned up with its kitten
and all afternoon they lay
in a patch of sun
on damp grass.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Rites.

Up this morning, and my wife, I know not for what cause, being against going to Chelsey to-day, it being a holy day (Ascension Day) and I at leisure, it being the first holy day almost that we have observed ever since we came to the office, we did give Ashwell leave to go by herself, and I out to several places about business. Among others to Dr. Williams, to reckon with him for physique that my wife has had for a year or two, coming to almost 4l. Then to the Exchange, where I hear that the King had letters yesterday from France that the King there is in a [way] of living again, which I am glad to hear.
At the coffee-house in Exchange Alley I bought a little book, “Counsell to Builders,” by Sir Balth. Gerbier. It is dedicated almost to all the men of any great condition in England, so that the Epistles are more than the book itself, and both it and them not worth a turd, that I am ashamed that I bought it.
Home and there found Creed, who dined with us, and after dinner by water to the Royall Theatre; but that was so full they told us we could have no room. And so to the Duke’s House; and there saw “Hamlett” done, giving us fresh reason never to think enough of Betterton.
Who should we see come upon the stage but Gosnell, my wife’s maid? but neither spoke, danced, nor sung; which I was sorry for. But she becomes the stage very well.
Thence by water home, after we had walked to and fro, backwards and forwards, six or seven times in the Temple walks, disputing whether to go by land or water. By land home, and thence by water to Halfway House, and there eat some supper we carried with us, and so walked home again, it being late we were forced to land at the dock, my wife and they, but I in a humour not willing to daub my shoes went round by the Custom House. So home, and by and by to bed, Creed lying with me in the red chamber all night.

today is the first holy day
we observe by living

almost any gland is worth a dinner
so full and so giving

who should we age into
if not a shoe


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 28 May 1663.

the heart is the devil
i pray to, its changes

in weather the butter
i spread on my toast

it loves a standing
ovation, a rainfall

of roses no less
with disregard it calls

a factory strike—
my likeness goes on

wanted signs
throughout town

in the end
there’ll be

no place to hide
from myself
(more…)

So I waked by 3 o’clock, my mind being troubled, and so took occasion by making water to wake my wife, and after having lain till past 4 o’clock seemed going to rise, though I did it only to see what she would do, and so going out of the bed she took hold of me and would know what ailed me, and after many kind and some cross words I began to tax her discretion in yesterday’s business, but she quickly told me my own, knowing well enough that it was my old disease of jealousy, which I denied, but to no purpose. After an hour’s discourse, sometimes high and sometimes kind, I found very good reason to think that her freedom with him is very great and more than was convenient, but with no evil intent, and so after awhile I caressed her and parted seeming friends, but she crying in a great discontent. So I up and by water to the Temple, and thence with Commissioner Pett to St. James’s, where an hour with Mr. Coventry talking of Mr. Pett’s proceedings lately in the forest of Sherwood, and thence with Pett to my Lord Ashley, Chancellor of the Exchequer; where we met the auditors about settling the business of the accounts of persons to whom money is due before the King’s time in the Navy, and the clearing of their imprests for what little of their debts they have received. I find my Lord, as he is reported, a very ready, quick, and diligent person. Thence I to Westminster Hall, where Term and Parliament make the Hall full of people; no further news yet of the King of France, whether he be dead or not.
Here I met with my cozen Roger Pepys, and walked a good while with him, and among other discourse as a secret he hath committed to nobody but myself, and he tells me that his sister Claxton now resolving to give over the keeping of his house at Impington, he thinks it fit to marry again, and would have me, by the help of my uncle Wight or others, to look him out a widow between thirty and forty years old, without children, and with a fortune, which he will answer in any degree with a joynture fit for her fortune. A woman sober, and no high-flyer, as he calls it.
I demanded his estate. He tells me, which he says also he hath not done to any, that his estate is not full 800l. per annum, but it is 780l. per annum, of which 200l. is by the death of his last wife, which he will allot for a joynture for a wife, but the rest, which lies in Cambridgeshire, he is resolved to leave entire for his eldest son. I undertook to do what I can in it, and so I shall. He tells me that the King hath sent to them to hasten to make an end by midsummer, because of his going into the country; so they have set upon four bills to dispatch: the first of which is, he says, too devilish a severe act against conventicles; so beyond all moderation, that he is afeard it will ruin all: telling me that it is matter of the greatest grief to him in the world, that he should be put upon this trust of being a Parliament-man, because he says nothing is done, that he can see, out of any truth and sincerity, but mere envy and design.
Thence by water to Chelsey, all the way reading a little book I bought of “Improvement of Trade,” a pretty book and many things useful in it.
So walked to Little Chelsey, where I found my Lord Sandwich with Mr. Becke, the master of the house, and Mr. Creed at dinner, and I sat down with them, and very merry. After dinner (Mr. Gibbons being come in also before dinner done) to musique, they played a good Fancy, to which my Lord is fallen again, and says he cannot endure a merry tune, which is a strange turn of his humour, after he has for two or three years flung off the practice of Fancies and played only fidlers’ tunes. Then into the Great Garden up to the Banqueting House; and there by his glass we drew in the species very pretty.
Afterwards to ninepins, where I won a shilling, Creed and I playing against my Lord and Cooke. This day there was great thronging to Banstead Downs, upon a great horse-race and foot-race. I am sorry I could not go thither.
So home back as I came, to London Bridge, and so home, where I find my wife in a musty humour, and tells me before Ashwell that Pembleton had been there, and she would not have him come in unless I was there, which I was ashamed of; but however, I had rather it should be so than the other way.
So to my office, to put things in order there, and by and by comes Pembleton, and word is brought me from my wife thereof that I might come home. So I sent word that I would have her go dance, and I would come presently. So being at a great loss whether I should appear to Pembleton or no, and what would most proclaim my jealousy to him, I at last resolved to go home, and took Tom Hater with me, and staid a good while in my chamber, and there took occasion to tell him how I hear that Parliament is putting an act out against all sorts of conventicles, and did give him good counsel, not only in his own behalf, but my own, that if he did hear or know anything that could be said to my prejudice, that he would tell me, for in this wicked age (specially Sir W. Batten being so open to my reproaches, and Sir J. Minnes, for the neglect of their duty, and so will think themselves obliged to scandalize me all they can to right themselves if there shall be any inquiry into the matters of the Navy, as I doubt there will) a man ought to be prepared to answer for himself in all things that can be inquired concerning him.
After much discourse of this nature to him I sent him away, and then went up, and there we danced country dances, and single, my wife and I; and my wife paid him off for this month also, and so he is cleared.
After dancing we took him down to supper, and were very merry, and I made myself so, and kind to him as much as I could, to prevent his discourse, though I perceive to my trouble that he knows all, and may do me the disgrace to publish it as much as he can. Which I take very ill, and if too much provoked shall witness it to her. After supper and he gone we to bed.

I wake by 4:00 o’clock
to any day but my own

here a forest here a clearing
here a dead body and his imp of a fly

it is midsummer in the country of grief
nothing is done but trade

dinner for dinner
a fancy tune for a glass

and sorry for however
present a loss

I hear that Parliament is against
the scandal of nature

which if too much provoked
shall go to bed


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 27 May 1663.

Lay long in bed talking and pleasing myself with my wife. So up and to my office a while and then home, where I found Pembleton, and by many circumstances I am led to conclude that there is something more than ordinary between my wife and him, which do so trouble me that I know not at this very minute that I now write this almost what either I write or am doing, nor how to carry myself to my wife in it, being unwilling to speak of it to her for making of any breach and other inconveniences, nor let it pass for fear of her continuing to offend me and the matter grow worse thereby. So that I am grieved at the very heart, but I am very unwise in being so.
There dined with me Mr. Creed and Captain Grove, and before dinner I had much discourse in my chamber with Mr. Deane, the builder of Woolwich, about building of ships. But nothing could get the business out of my head, I fearing that this afternoon by my wife’s sending every [one] abroad and knowing that I must be at the office she has appointed him to come. This is my devilish jealousy, which I pray God may be false, but it makes a very hell in my mind, which the God of heaven remove, or I shall be very unhappy. So to the office, where we sat awhile.
By and by my mind being in great trouble I went home to see how things were, and there I found as I doubted Mr. Pembleton with my wife, and nobody else in the house, which made me almost mad, and going up to my chamber after a turn or two I went out again and called somebody on pretence of business and left him in my little room at the door (it was the Dutchman, commander of the King’s pleasure boats, who having been beat by one of his men sadly, was come to the office to-day to complain) telling him I would come again to him to speak with him about his business. So in great trouble and doubt to the office, and Mr. Coventry nor Sir G. Carteret being there I made a quick end of our business and desired leave to be gone, pretending to go to the Temple, but it was home, and so up to my chamber, and as I think if they had any intention of hurt I did prevent doing anything at that time, but I continued in my chamber vexed and angry till he went away, pretending aloud, that I might hear, that he could not stay, and Mrs. Ashwell not being within they could not dance. And, Lord! to see how my jealousy wrought so far that I went softly up to see whether any of the beds were out of order or no, which I found not, but that did not content me, but I staid all the evening walking, and though anon my wife came up to me and would have spoke of business to me, yet I construed it to be but impudence, and though my heart full yet I did say nothing, being in a great doubt what to do. So at night, suffered them to go all to bed, and late put myself to bed in great discontent, and so to sleep.

I write what I write
being unwilling to speak

the heart is the devil I pray to
nobody else made me beat

in the quick red time
of an evening walk


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 26 May 1663.

When peonies bow
does the gardener bow back?

Ranunculus and layers of crepe paper;
meadow buttercup and winding vines.

Contrary to what you think
I can be patient and forbearing.

All these years: water filled the cistern,
brimmed. Blue-fingered rain spilled

more than grief from a vessel.
In the middle of a quiet room

sometimes it feels like church.
Only light bows completely

to the floor; sometimes deeper.

Only light bows completely.
Sometimes it feels like church

in the middle of a quiet room.
More than grief from a vessel

brimmed. Blue-fingered rain spilled
all these years; water filled the cistern.

I can be patient and forbearing,
contrary to what you think.

Meadow buttercup and winding vines,
ranunculus and layers of crepe paper.

Does the gardener bow back
when peonies bow?

 

In response to Via Negativa: Some notions about peonies.