I dreamt of lines of fish drying, their bodies
scaled and butterflied and left to leather in the sun,
the coast and fishermen’s nets gritty backdrop
to water’s insistent reruns. You were somewhere
on the beach, your body covered with sand, your face
shielded from the heat by a newspaper. Drowsing
or asleep, you didn’t move; you lay as if dead.
I dug little holes and watched for sand fiddlers.
I looked for whelks, brittle shells, and bits
of broken glass. Before mid-afternoon, you rose
like an idol, ran into the sea to rinse off
the crust of what had hardened and clung.
In response to Via Negativa: Prospector.
This morning came Mr. Berkenshaw to me and in our discourse I, finding that he cries up his rules for most perfect (though I do grant them to be very good, and the best I believe that ever yet were made), and that I could not persuade him to grant wherein they were somewhat lame, we fell to angry words, so that in a pet he flung out of my chamber and I never stopped him, having intended to put him off today, whether this had happened or no, because I think I have all the rules that he hath to give. And so there remains not the practice now to do me good, and it is not for me to continue with him at 5l. per month.
So I settled to put all his rules in fair order in a book, which was my work all the morning till dinner. After dinner to the office till late at night, and so home to write by the post, and so to bed.
I find cries
where they were words:
in a lung.
I give the remains to a book,
work all night.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 27 February 1661/62.
In the white sift from low-
slung branches, I saw pages
before the shadows of wings
wrote their script.
What is your intention?
I asked, walking into the heart
of the cold to bring my one
wish as offering.
Somewhere I heard the sound
of an ax splitting wood,
the soft weight of two halves
falling equally to the ground.
In response to Via Negativa: Longing.
Mr. Berkenshaw with me all the morning composing of musique to “This cursed jealousy, what is it,” a song of Sir W. Davenant’s.
After dinner I went to my Bookseller’s, W. Joyce’s, and several other places to pay my debts and do business, I being resolved to cast up my accounts within a day or two, for I fear I have run out too far.
In coming home I met with a face I knew and challenged him, thinking it had been one of the Theatre musicians, and did enquire for a song of him, but finding it a mistake, and that it was a gentleman that comes sometimes to the office, I was much ashamed, but made a pretty good excuse that I took him for a gentleman of Gray’s Inn who sings well, and so parted. Home for all night and set things in order and so to bed.
all morning in books
and other places
a far face
Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 26 February 1661/62.
The future is a bride
crossing a footbridge
lined with votive lights
near midnight, knowing
there isn’t much time.
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.
In the marketplace, all the mouths opened
and each tongue had a version of the story.
In the hive, the work of bees builds a complex
of gold cells: each room a miniature story.
How do you know where it begins, where it ends?
And which part is the middle of the story?
At the city gate, the woodcutter, the brigand, the samurai
and his wife— What will you believe, whose story?
Life of endless variation, life of primordial
desire masked as intention. You know the story.
I’ve tried to live my truths. Tend your own dagger,
your sphere of influence; write your own story.
In response to Via Negativa: Loose lips sink ships.
All the morning at the office. At noon with Mr. Moore to the Coffee-house, where among other things the great talk was of the effects of this late great wind; and I heard one say that he had five great trees standing together blown down; and, beginning to lop them, one of them, as soon as the lops were cut off, did, by the weight of the root, rise again and fasten. We have letters from the forest of Deane, that above 1000 Oakes and as many beeches are blown down in one walk there. And letters from my father tell me of 20l. hurt done to us at Brampton.
This day in the news-book I find that my Lord Buckhurst and his fellows have printed their case as they did give it in upon examination to a justice of Peace, wherein they make themselves a very good tale that they were in pursuit of thieves, and that they took this man for one of them, and so killed him; and that he himself confessed it was the first time of his robbing; and that he did pay dearly for it, for he was a dead man. But I doubt things will be proved otherwise, as they say.
Home to dinner, and by and by comes Mr. Hunt and his wife to see us and staid a good, while with us. Then parted, and I to my study in the office. The first time since the alteracon that I have begun to do business myself there, and I think I shall be well pleased with it.
At night home to supper and to bed.
In the coffee house,
talk is a great wind.
Trees blow down
and we have letters from the forest.
A thousand oaks walk to Brampton
in the news:
they make a good tale, thieves
that rob us of time.
Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 25 February 1661/62.
Long with Mr. Berkenshaw in the morning at my musique practice; finishing my song of “Gaze not on Swans,” in two parts, which pleases me well, and I did give him 5l. for this month or five weeks that he hath taught me, which is a great deal of money and troubled me to part with it. Thence to the Paynter’s, and set again for my picture in little, and thence over the water to Southwark to Mr. Berkenshaw’s house, and there sat with him all the afternoon, he showing me his great card of the body of musique, which he cries up for a rare thing, and I do believe it cost much pains, but is not so useful as he would have it. Then we sat down and set “Nulla, nulla sit formido,” and he has set it very finely. So home and to supper, and then called Will up, and chid him before my wife for refusing to go to church with the maids yesterday, and telling his mistress that he would not be made a slave of, which vexes me. So to bed.
swans over the house—
his great body in pain
refusing to go
Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 24 February 1661/62.
I charge the story avowed
fails to disclose
what it was like
in the aftermath
No contribution no
paycheck no card
Not a crumb
from the ego
of indigenous pride
Don’t talk to me
about (a) the honoring
of a debt (b) the “real”
ways in which things
played out— Time
stonewalls even better
when the blinders
don’t come off
In the mean time
we lived, in
the meantime it’s
our truths we live
In response to Via Negativa: Internal Dialogue.
(Lord’s day). My cold being increased, I staid at home all day, pleasing myself with my dining-room, now graced with pictures, and reading of Dr. Fuller’s “Worthys.” So I spent the day, and at night comes Sir W. Pen and supped and talked with me. This day by God’s mercy I am 29 years of age, and in very good health, and like to live and get an estate; and if I have a heart to be contented, I think I may reckon myself as happy a man as any is in the world, for which God be praised. So to prayers and to bed.
Home all day
with my pent-up talk,
this ear like a state
and if I have ink
I reckon myself a world.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 23 February 1661/62.