2017

finding a pair

of bronzed shells

in the field.

And if a pair

of gunmen pump

twenty-seven bullets

into their victim‘s body

at the intersection

of Clarin and Zamora,

what will the children

in the passenger seat

remember? Dull glint,

the vehicle coasting

to a stop. The sounds

numbed vessels make

as every small gold

cell breaks and breaks.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Farmer.

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning, and at noon to the ‘Change with Mr. Coventry and thence home to dinner, after dinner by a gaily down to Woolwich, where with Mr. Falconer, and then at the other yard doing some business to my content, and so walked to Greenwich, it being a very fine evening and brought right home with me by water, and so to my office, where late doing business, and then home to supper and to bed.

morning and noon
change into green evening
I water my bed


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 20 February 1663/64.

Up in good order in my head again and shaved myself, and then to the office, whither Mr. Cutler came, and walked and talked with me a great while; and then to the ‘Change together; and it being early, did tell me several excellent examples of men raised upon the ‘Change by their great diligence and saving; as also his owne fortune, and how credit grew upon him; that when he was not really worth 1100l., he had credit for 100,000l. of Sir W. Rider how he rose; and others. By and by joyned with us Sir John Bankes; who told us several passages of the East India Company; and how in his very case, when there was due to him and Alderman Mico 64,000l. from the Dutch for injury done to them in the East Indys, Oliver presently after the peace, they delaying to pay them the money, sent them word, that if they did not pay them by such a day, he would grant letters of mark to those merchants against them; by which they were so fearful of him, they did presently pay the money every farthing.
By and by, the ‘Change filling, I did many businesses, and about 2 o’clock went off with my uncle Wight to his house, thence by appointment we took our wives (they by coach with Mr. Mawes) and we on foot to Mr. Jaggard, a salter, in Thames Street, for whom I did a courtesy among the poor victuallers, his wife, whom long ago I had seen, being daughter to old Day, my uncle Wight’s master, is a very plain woman, but pretty children they have. They live methought at first in but a plain way, but afterward I saw their dinner, all fish, brought in very neatly, but the company being but bad I had no great pleasure in it. After dinner I to the office, where we should have met upon business extraordinary, but business not coming we broke up, and I thither again and took my wife; and taking a coach, went to visit my Ladys Jemimah and Paulina Montagu, and Mrs. Elizabeth Pickering, whom we find at their father’s new house in Lincolne’s Inn Fields; but the house all in dirt. They received us well enough; but I did not endeavour to carry myself over familiarly with them; and so after a little stay, there coming in presently after us my Lady Aberguenny and other ladies, we back again by coach, and visited, my wife did, my she cozen Scott, who is very ill still, and thence to Jaggard’s again, where a very good supper and great store of plate; and above all after supper Mrs. Jaggard did at my entreaty play on the Vyall, but so well as I did not think any woman in England could and but few Maisters, I must confess it did mightily surprise me, though I knew heretofore that she could play, but little thought so well. After her I set Maes to singing, but he did it so like a coxcomb that I was sick of him.
About 11 at night I carried my aunt home by coach, and then home myself, having set my wife down at home by the way. My aunt tells me they are counted very rich people, worth at least 10 or 12,000l., and their country house all the yeare long and all things liveable, which mightily surprises me to think for how poore a man I took him when I did him the courtesy at our office.
So after prayers to bed, pleased at nothing all the day but Mrs. Jaggard playing on the Vyall, and that was enough to make me bear with all the rest that did not content me.

to raise a rose
is to grant salt to a fish
I had no great pleasure in it

but I find the fields
all in dirt
like livable prayers


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 19 February 1663/64.

Some Friday evenings after work, father had a staff
member help him carry it home from the City Hall,
from the fourth branch of the City Court where he

presided— we lived but a ten minute walk from there,
and a cab while helpful would be extravagant. I was
a high school junior and had just finished a course

in typing and stenography, and was to help him
whenever he worked on court decisions. We started
after supper, the typewriter in its blue-gray metal

case sitting heavy like some relic from the last
World War at one end of the table. He composed
on lined yellow legal pad, scrupulous about

the format I was to transfer, stroke by stroke,
to paper. The hammers of the keys I pressed
cut through carbon paper layers to spell out

headings, case or docket numbers, dispositions,
summaries, before coming to the all-important
opinion— the part where he was to craft a ruling

based on analysis of the law as applied to the facts.
As fill-in clerk with no legal training or experience,
I could not discuss the intricacies of these undertakings.

But as I watched and read and copied, the import was not lost
on me: before the machine, there is the fact of language.
And before that, the processes of well-considered thought.

At the park, they gather
on Sundays to be washed

in a river of sound: bevy
of tongues, unloosed after

fortnights of quiet bowing,
slippers only in the house,

saying only Yes or Okay Madam
or Here is the change. Every girl

has a story, words that branch
into new distances from the tree.

Fountains splash their chain
of quilted echoes.

Every unrimmed space unlocks
a few hours, every morsel

they exchange both vestige
and confiscated passport.

Called up to the office and much against my will I rose, my head aching mightily, and to the office, where I did argue to good purpose for the King, which I have been fitting myself for the last night against Mr. Wood about his masts, but brought it to no issue. Very full of business till noon, and then with Mr. Coventry to the African House, and there fell to my Lord Peterborough’s accounts, and by and by to dinner, where excellent discourse, Sir G. Carteret and others of the African Company with us, and then up to the accounts again, which were by and by done, and then I straight home, my head in great pain, and drowsy, so after doing a little business at the office I wrote to my father about sending him the mastiff was given me yesterday. I home and by daylight to bed about 6 o’clock and fell to sleep, wakened about 12 when my wife came to bed, and then to sleep again and so till morning, and then:

the night wood
is as full of business
as a clock when I am asleep


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 18 February 1663/64.

Up, and with my wife, setting her down by her father’s in Long Acre, in so ill looked a place, among all the whore houses, that I was troubled at it, to see her go thither. Thence I to White Hall and there walked up and down talking with Mr. Pierce, who tells me of the King’s giving of my Lord Fitz-Harding two leases which belong indeed to the Queene, worth 20,000l. to him; and how people do talk of it, and other things of that nature which I am sorry to hear. He and I walked round the Park with great pleasure, and back again, and finding no time to speak with my Lord of Albemarle, I walked to the ‘Change and there met my wife at our pretty Doll’s, and so took her home, and Creed also whom I met there, and sent her hose, while Creed and I staid on the ‘Change, and by and by home and dined, where I found an excellent mastiffe, his name Towser, sent me by a chyrurgeon. After dinner I took my wife again by coach (leaving Creed by the way going to Gresham College, of which he is now become one of the virtuosos) and to White Hall, where I delivered a paper about Tangier to my Lord Duke of Albemarle in the council chamber, and so to Mrs. Hunt’s to call my wife, and so by coach straight home, and at my office till 3 o’clock in the morning, having spent much time this evening in discourse with Mr. Cutler, who tells me how the Dutch deal with us abroad and do not value us any where, and how he and Sir W. Rider have found reason to lay aside Captain Cocke in their company, he having played some indiscreet and unfair tricks with them, and has lost himself every where by his imposing upon all the world with the conceit he has of his own wit, and so has, he tells me, Sir R. Ford also, both of whom are very witty men.
He being gone Sir W. Rider came and staid with me till about 12 at night, having found ourselves work till that time, about understanding the measuring of Mr. Wood’s masts, which though I did so well before as to be thought to deal very hardly against Wood, yet I am ashamed I understand it no better, and do hope yet, whatever be thought of me, to save the King some more money, and out of an impatience to breake up with my head full of confused confounded notions, but nothing brought to a clear comprehension, I was resolved to sit up and did till now it is ready to strike 4 o’clock, all alone, cold, and my candle not enough left to light me to my owne house, and so, with my business however brought to some good understanding, and set it down pretty clear, I went home to bed with my mind at good quiet, and the girl sitting up for me (the rest all a-bed). I eat and drank a little, and to bed, weary, sleepy, cold, and my head akeing.

my own acre
among the whorehouses of the Lord

I walk ’round it
finding no time to speak

walk my mastiff on by the virtuosos
with their discreet tricks

who are witty till 12 at night
and I am ashamed to sit alone

my candle not enough to light
my own ache


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 17 February 1663/64.

Once she asked her father (born
in 1913) what he remembered

about that place before the Americans came,
before the streets changed from names

of creeks, mountain gorges, and orange groves
to names of dead presidents or men in uniform.

He told her soldiers came with threats to shoot
their animals if people refused to move

their homes farther away from what would be
the center of town: no warm entrails

festooned on the trees, no bones
bleaching on the hedges. Blueprint for

lawn-mowering the grass in that
wilderness of hills. From that time,

there’s a photograph of the Governor
General, all 360 lbs. of him: dark suit,

straw hat, carrying a riding crop; sweaty
in the tropics, astride the broad plank

of a water buffalo. Not a beast
for riding, but someone took

care to fit it out with blanket, stirrups,
bit. Taft cabled back to D.C. that he’d

enjoyed a horse ride, prompting
the Secretary of War to inquire:

“How’s the horse?” In the canopy, chatter
of the indescribable; birds of unidentifiable

color. She and her kind, among the new
taxonomies of empire: little and brown.

Note: “Little Brown Brother” was a term used by Americans to refer to Filipinos. The term was coined by William Howard Taft, the first American Governor-General of the Philippines (1901-1904) and later the 27th President of the United States.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Grave goods.

Up and to the office, where very busy all the morning, and most with Mr. Wood, I vexing him about his masts. At noon to the ‘Change a little and thence brought Mr. Barrow to dinner with me, where I had a haunch of venison roasted, given me yesterday, and so had a pretty dinner, full of discourse of his business, wherein the poor man is mightily troubled, and I pity him in it, but hope to get him some ease. He being gone I to the office, where very busy till night, that my uncle Wight and Mr. Maes came to me, and after discourse about Maes’ business to supper very merry, but my mind upon my business, and so they being gone I to my Vyall a little, which I have not done some months, I think, before, and then a little to my office, at 11 at night, and so home and to bed.

a mast to hang venison
as mightily bled
as the night in a viol


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 16 February 1663/64.