February 2014

At the office all the morning, that done I walked in the garden with little Captain Murford, where he and I had some discourse concerning the Light-House again, and I think I shall appear in the business, he promising me that if I can bring it about, it will be worth 100l. per annum.
Then came into the garden to me young Mr. Powell and Mr. Hooke that I once knew at Cambridge, and I took them in and gave them a bottle of wine, and so parted. Then I called for a dish of fish, which we had for dinner, this being the first day of Lent; and I do intend to try whether I can keep it or no. My father dined with me and did show me a letter from my brother John, wherein he tells us that he is chosen Schollar of the house, which do please me much, because I do perceive now it must chiefly come from his merit and not the power of his Tutor, Dr. Widdrington, who is now quite out of interest there and hath put over his pupils to Mr. Pepper, a young Fellow of the College.
With my father to Mr. Rawlinson’s, where we met my uncle Wight, and after a pint or two away. I walked with my father (who gave me an account of the great falling out between my uncle Fenner and his son Will) as far as Paul’s Churchyard, and so left him, and I home.
This day the Commissioners of Parliament begin to pay off the Fleet, beginning with the Hampshire, and do it at Guildhall, for fear of going out of town into the power of the seamen, who are highly incensed against them.

Done with captain and lighthouse,
I am a hook.
I once knew a fish, a scholar
at the pint, who gave out “fen”
as a home for fear
of the power of the sea.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 27 February 1660/61.

(Shrove Tuesday). I left my wife in bed, being indisposed by reason of ceux-la, and I to Mrs. Turner’s, who I found busy with The. and Joyce making of things ready for fritters, so to Mr. Crew’s and there delivered Cotgrave’s Dictionary to my Lady Jemimah, and then with Mr. Moore to my coz Tom Pepys, but he being out of town I spoke with his lady, though not of the business I went about, which was to borrow 1000l. for my Lord.
Back to Mrs. Turner’s, where several friends, all strangers to me but Mr. Armiger, dined. Very merry and the best fritters that ever I eat in my life. After that looked out at window; saw the flinging at cocks.
Then Mrs. The. and I, and a gentleman that dined there and his daughter, a perfect handsome young and very tall lady that lately came out of the country, and Mr. Thatcher the Virginall Maister to Bishopsgate Street, and there saw the new Harpsicon made for Mrs. The. We offered 12l., they demanded 14l.. The Master not being at home, we could make no bargain, so parted for to-night. So all by coach to my house, where I found my Valentine with my wife, and here they drank, and then went away. Then I sat and talked with my Valentine and my wife a good while, and then saw her home, and went to Sir W. Batten to the Dolphin, where Mr. Newborne, &c., were, and there after a quart or two of wine, we home, and I went to bedwhere (God forgive me) I did please myself by strength of fancy with the young country Segnora that was at dinner with us today.

I left my wife for a dictionary.
It spoke as 1000 strangers to me,
and if I saw hand and hatch
I saw harpsicon—a bargain,
a batten, a bed where
I please my
self, strength, segnora


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 26 February 1660/61.

Sir Wm. Pen and I to my Lord Sandwich’s by coach in the morning to see him, but he takes physic to-day and so we could not see him. So he went away, and I with Luellin to Mr. Mount’s chamber at the Cockpit, where he did lie of old, and there we drank, and from thence to W. Symons where we found him abroad, but she, like a good lady, within, and there we did eat some nettle porrige, which was made on purpose to-day for some of their coming, and was very good. With her we sat a good while, merry in discourse, and so away, Luellin and I to my Lord’s, and there dined. He told me one of the prettiest stories, how Mr. Blurton, his friend that was with him at my house three or four days ago, did go with him the same day from my house to the Fleece tavern by Guildhall, and there (by some pretence) got the mistress of the house, a very pretty woman, into their company. And by and by, Luellin calling him Doctor, she thought that he really was so, and did privately discover her disease to him—which was only some ordinary infirmity belonging to women. And he proffering her physic—she desired him to come some day and bring it, which he did; and withal hath the sight of her thing below, and did handle it—and he swears the next time that he will do more.
After dinner by water to the office, and there Sir W. Pen and I met and did business all the afternoon, and then I got him to my house and eat a lobster together, and so to bed.

Day like a nettle.
Day for stress, that private, ordinary infirmity.
Day in which the sight of her ear will do me,
and all afternoon I eat lobster.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 25 February 1660/61.

“…listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the years go by, the moments return…” ~ Octavio Paz

1

I believe you, poet, when you write
of how night is now more night
in the grove
, how lightning
has nestled among the leaves

But did you see when something heavier
than lightning came to roost, demon
with burning eyes in the corner of the yard?
It settled spindly legs and arms on the topmost
branch of the avocado tree, which immediately sagged
from its sad weight— how many decades of anger
and regret? It lit a cigar, hairy mofo with plans
to apparently stay a while— And then you said
listen to the rain running over the terrace
and I did, watched how it overfilled each vessel
that could not help being open. And in the morning,
what was rime and salt washed away, or turned to circles
on stone tile and clay gradually drying in the sun.

*

Each year perhaps there is at least one
new thing to learn, even if in the manner

of an error. The ways of the world are mysterious
but not to the honeybee who is wiser by far

than the so-called intelligence that decrees
what is or is not essential to the industry

of golf courses and corporations. Once I bought
a bouquet of stargazer lilies, sunflowers,

asters, baby’s breath for a writer who came
with stories to share in our speakers’ series—

When I turned in my reimbursement receipts,
I received a memo: Please explain how flowers

are essential to the mission of the university.
Of course I was flabbergasted. But the bees

could have told me. I should have listened
closer to the alarms in the hive, the soft

crumbling of door upon golden door as they left,
the dusky odor of sweetness now nearly forgotten.

 

In response to Via Negativa: How to Tell the Woodpeckers.