April 2017

(Coronation day). Up, and after doing something at my office, and, it being a holiday, no sitting likely to be, I down by water to Sir W. Warren’s, who hath been ill, and there talked long with him good discourse, especially about Sir W. Batten’s knavery and his son Castle’s ill language of me behind my back, saying that I favour my fellow traytours, but I shall be even with him. So home and to the ‘Change, where I met with Mr. Coventry, who himself is now full of talke of a Dutch warr; for it seems the Lords have concurred in the Commons’ vote about it; and so the next week it will be presented to the King, insomuch that he do desire we would look about to see what stores we lack, and buy what we can. Home to dinner, where I and my wife much troubled about my money that is in my Lord Sandwich’s hand, for fear of his going to sea and be killed; but I will get what of it out I can.
All the afternoon, not being well, at my office, and there doing much business, my thoughts still running upon a warr and my money.
At night home to supper and to bed.

like water in the hand
going to sea

my thoughts still running
on my money

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 23 April 1664.

The occurrence of three or more sounds
with no intervening vowels within a word

is what linguists call consonant clusters:
as in diphthong, glimpse, and angst. One

of my favorites, perhaps, is ironclad
that steam-propelled warship encased

in plates of metal, which in the 1800s
toted some of the heaviest artillery

ever brought out to sea and was often
equipped with an elongated underwater beak

for the then hot craze of ramming into enemy ships
in ocean warfare. In this navy town where we now live,

there are no hulls of old ironclads; but in the downtown
harbor, the Battleship Wisconsin is permanently berthed.

Just blocks away from the MacArthur museum, it houses
paraphernalia from WWII, including pictures of operations

east of Luzon in the Philippine Sea and along
the coast of Mindoro. I read that this battleship

weathered many violent storms and skirmishes,
but proved to be most seaworthy— There it stands

grey and gleaming in shallower waters, next
to pools of cultivated koi and sculptures of flat-

chested mermaids. As for the ironclads, those three
consonants tightly breastplating the middle of the word

remind me of stories of how the Portuguese explorer
Ferdinand Magellan met his end— in Philippine

waters, at the hands of a native chieftain, who
was supposed to have rammed the end of his spear

through the hinges of Magellan’s armor and up
his thigh. Poor Magellan, he never did manage

to circumnavigate the globe. His surviving crew
left him in Mactan to die, while they sailed

back eventually homeward, bearing cassia bark,
ginger, cardamom, turmeric, pepper, and cloves.

Having directed it last night, I was called up this morning before four o’clock. It was full light enough to dress myself, and so by water against tide, it being a little coole, to Greenwich; and thence, only that it was somewhat foggy till the sun got to some height, walked with great pleasure to Woolwich, in my way staying several times to listen to the nightingales. I did much business both at the Ropeyarde and the other, and on floate I discovered a plain cheat which in time I shall publish of Mr. Ackworth’s. Thence, having visited Mr. Falconer also, who lies still sick, but hopes to be better, I walked to Greenwich, Mr. Deane with me. Much good discourse, and I think him a very just man, only a little conceited, but yet very able in his way, and so he by water also with me also to towne. I home, and immediately dressing myself, by coach with my wife to my Lord Sandwich’s, but they having dined we would not ‘light but went to Mrs. Turner’s, and there got something to eat, and thence after reading part of a good play, Mrs. The., my wife and I, in their coach to Hide Parke where great plenty of gallants, and pleasant it was, only for the dust. Here I saw Mrs. Bendy, my Lady Spillman’s faire daughter that was, who continues yet very handsome. Many others I saw with great content, and so back again to Mrs. Turner’s, and then took a coach and home. I did also carry them into St. James’s Park and shewed them the garden.
To my office awhile while supper was making ready, and so home to supper and to bed.

I dress myself against the sun
go to listen to the gale

I publish lies but hope to be
just a little conceited

I dress myself for the dust
that great garden of a bed

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 22 April 1664.

Up pretty betimes and to my office, and thither came by and by Mr. Vernaty and staid two hours with me, but Mr. Gauden did not come, and so he went away to meet again anon. Then comes Mr. Creed, and, after some discourse, he and I and my wife by coach to Westminster (leaving her at Unthanke’s, her tailor’s) Hall, and there at the Lords’ House heard that it is ordered, that, upon submission upon the knee both to the House and my Lady Peters, W. Joyce shall be released. I forthwith made him submit, and aske pardon upon his knees; which he did before several Lords. But my Lady would not hear it; but swore she would post the Lords, that the world might know what pitifull Lords the King hath; and that revenge was sweeter to her than milk; and that she would never be satisfied unless he stood in a pillory, and demand pardon there. But I perceive the Lords are ashamed of her, and so I away calling with my wife at a place or two to inquire after a couple of mayds recommended to us, but we found both of them bad. So set my wife at my uncle Wight’s and I home, and presently to the ‘Change, where I did some business, and thence to my uncle’s and there dined very well, and so to the office, we sat all the afternoon, but no sooner sat but news comes my Lady Sandwich was come to see us, so I went out, and running up (her friend however before me) I perceive by my dear Lady blushing that in my dining-room she was doing something upon the pott, which I also was ashamed of, and so fell to some discourse, but without pleasure through very pity to my Lady. She tells me, and I find true since, that the House this day have voted that the King be desired to demand right for the wrong done us by the Dutch, and that they will stand by him with their lives fortunes: which is a very high vote, and more than I expected. What the issue will be, God knows! My Lady, my wife not being at home, did not stay, but, poor, good woman, went away, I being mightily taken with her dear visitt, and so to the office, where all the afternoon till late, and so to my office, and then to supper and to bed, thinking to rise betimes tomorrow.

I thank her on my knees
the world sweeter than milk
with her sin and sand
her lush dining and discourse with time

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 21 April 1664.

A bad beginning makes a bad ending: aphorism
commonly attributed to Euripides, but sounding almost
exactly like any other saying to that effect: Don’t
go into something with your eyes closed
; or
It takes more than good intentions to put an onion in the soup.
Keep the onion there, sure; but think of other ingredients,
meat not necessarily being the only one. I like a clear broth, not
oily with the flecked residues of fat and marrow. Clam broth
quickens the letdown of maternal milk; in gallon doses it can
soften the most reluctant ducts— They learn to relax into the
unfamiliar sensation of a little mouth latched onto the breast,
working frantically to pull at what can feed this ravenous,
yowling hunger. In time, the panic ceases, drowses at intervals.
Ziplocked lips fall open, the head lolls back; sweet breath!
Xenopus frogs’ hind legs once ballooned in labs to monitor the womb’s
vacancy or tenancy. Now, two stripes on a small cotton-backed window
trace the first faint signs of mystery. Did the frogs live or die?
Regardless of them or this meandering meditation, my
parents offered only one response to the news I was pregnant:
Now that you’ve made your bed, you get to lie in it. I didn’t
like the way that sounded then, nor do I now: like a poor
joke, as in Congratulations, think of becoming “with child” as
having won a kind of cruise of a lifetime. It took nearly twenty-
five years before I understood: plots don’t need to go from A-B-C-
D. Time’s a bitch in that there are things that have happened,
but there are places you can trade in some old furniture for new.

Up and by coach to Westminster, and there solicited W. Joyce’s business all the morning, and meeting in the Hall with Mr. Coventry, he told me how the Committee for Trade have received now all the complaints of the merchants against the Dutch, and were resolved to report very highly the wrongs they have done us (when, God knows! it is only our owne negligence and laziness that hath done us the wrong) and this to be made to the House to-morrow. I went also out of the Hall with Mrs. Lane to the Swan at Mrs. Herbert’s in the Palace Yard to try a couple of bands, and did (though I had a mind to be playing the fool with her) purposely stay but a little while, and kept the door open, and called the master and mistress of the house one after another to drink and talk with me, and showed them both my old and new bands. So that as I did nothing so they are able to bear witness that I had no opportunity there to do anything.
Thence by coach with Sir W. Pen home, calling at the Temple for Lawes’s Psalms, which I did not so much (by being against my oath) buy as only lay down money till others be bound better for me, and by that time I hope to get money of the Treasurer of the Navy by bills, which, according to my oath, shall make me able to do it.
At home dined, and all the afternoon at a Committee of the Chest, and at night comes my aunt and uncle Wight and Nan Ferrers and supped merrily with me, my uncle coming in an hour after them almost foxed. Great pleasure by discourse with them, and so, they gone, late to bed.

joy is a swan in the mind
a door open to anything
a psalm against money
the night fox

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 20 April 1664.

You wrote of the sand, the trees,
the sea’s constant whisper

those months you labored to learn
the language of your travels—

And in the darkness before dawn,
fishermen ploughing the moon’s

silver shine before the day
began. We were all younger then

and did not mind so much the heat;
then, turning a corner, the sudden,

all-encasing fog; the way the sun
could disappear for months

behind a heavy curtain of rain.
The little deprivations help

to train the body and the spirit:
short courses in stoicism, just

enough to help in that exercise
of weathering. But I know

how weak we are: which is to say
we think, with care, we might

actually get to live longer.
I also close my eyes when it seems

too much, when my fears lurch ahead:
glistening creature made of my own parts,

straining to outdistance the one
who appears at every crossroad—

the one I’ll have to carry
on my back wherever I go.

Up and to St. James’s, where long with Mr. Coventry, Povy, &c., in their Tangier accounts, but such the folly of that coxcomb Povy that we could do little in it, and so parted for the time, and I to walk with Creed and Vernaty in the Physique Garden in St. James’s Parke; where I first saw orange-trees, and other fine trees. So to Westminster Hall, and thence by water to the Temple, and so walked to the ‘Change, and there find the ‘Change full of news from Guinny, some say the Dutch have sunk our ships and taken our fort, and others say we have done the same to them. But I find by our merchants that something is done, but is yet a secret among them. So home to dinner, and then to the office, and at night with Captain Tayler consulting how to get a little money by letting him the Elias to fetch masts from New England. So home to supper and to bed.

trees full of news
from sunk ships

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 19 April 1664.