Dave Bonta

Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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.

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.

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.

Up, and carrying my wife to my Lord’s lodgings left her, and I to White Hall, to the Duke; where he first put on a periwigg to-day; but methought his hair cut short in order thereto did look very prettily of itself, before he put on his periwigg. Thence to his closet and there did our business, and thence Mr. Coventry and I down to his chamber and spent a little time, and so parted, and I took my wife homeward, I stopping at the Coffee-house, and thence a while to the ‘Change, where great newes of the arrivall of two rich ships, the Greyhound and another, which they were mightily afeard of, and great insurance given, and so home to dinner, and after an houre with my wife at her globes, I to the office, where very busy till 11 at night, and so home to supper and to bed.
This afternoon Sir Thomas Chamberlin came to the office to me, and showed me several letters from the East Indys, showing the height that the Dutch are come to there, showing scorn to all the English, even in our only Factory there of Surat, beating several men, and hanging the English Standard St. George under the Dutch flagg in scorn; saying, that whatever their masters do or say at home, they will do what they list, and will be masters of all the world there; and have so proclaimed themselves Soveraigne of all the South Seas; which certainly our King cannot endure, if the Parliament will give him money. But I doubt and yet do hope they will not yet, till we are more ready for it.

my hair cut short
I am a globe where night
cannot endure


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 15 February 1663/64.

I’m carrying a sick vulture in a box. It weighs almost nothing. I’m worried it might vomit — what unspeakable things might come up? — but I tell myself that vomiting is something turkey vultures only do when they’re well, to cool down their legs in the summer. I stroke its black feathers, tell it everything’s all right, even though we both know that isn’t true.

I carry it into a natural history museum and it comes alive, half-opening its wings and trying to climb out of the box at the sight of so many dead stuffed animals. But the PA system comes on to announce they’re closing soon and I push the vulture back down, folding its wings like an origami crane.

Outside, we run into a two-headed mob shouting at itself. The only thing they all seem to agree on is that Trump is due to make an appearance at any moment. But he doesn’t. I sit down on the steps, unable to join the protestors in their hey-hoing at the supporters because of the vulture, who looks bored at this demonstration of health and vitality in the body politic. We hunker down.

Hours pass, and the crowd’s chanting comes and goes like surf. The vulture closes its eyes in two stages: first the nictitating membranes like fogged-up windows, then the eyelids proper like shutters. I try not to think of the lice that co-evolved with its species, its body their whole planet. Parasites! The only creatures more ignoble than eaters of carrion. If only we hadn’t evolved as scavengers ourselves. If only we could have a true predator’s implacable heart.

(Lord’s day). Up and to church alone, where a lazy sermon of Mr. Mills, upon a text to introduce catechizing in his parish, which I perceive he intends to begin. So home and very pleasant with my wife at dinner. All the afternoon at my office alone doing business, and then in the evening after a walk with my wife in the garden, she and I to my uncle Wight’s to supper, where Mr. Norbury, but my uncle out of tune, and after supper he seemed displeased mightily at my aunt’s desiring [to] put off a copper kettle, which it seems with great study he had provided to boil meat in, and now she is put in the head that it is not wholesome, which vexed him, but we were very merry about it, and by and by home, and after prayers to bed.

on ice one evening
after a walk in the garden

bury my out-of-tune kettle
with me in the hole


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 14 February 1663/64.

Up, and after I had told my wife in the morning in bed the passages yesterday with Creed my head and heart was mightily lighter than they were before, and so up and to the office, and thence, after sitting, at 11 o’clock with Mr. Coventry to the African House, and there with Sir W. Ryder by agreement we looked over part of my Lord Peterborough’s accounts, these being by Creed and Vernaty. Anon down to dinner to a table which Mr. Coventry keeps here, out of his 300l. per annum as one of the Assistants to the Royall Company, a very pretty dinner, and good company, and excellent discourse, and so up again to our work for an hour till the Company came to having a meeting of their own, and so we broke up and Creed and I took coach and to Reeves, the perspective glass maker, and there did indeed see very excellent microscopes, which did discover a louse or mite or sand most perfectly and largely. Being sated with that we went away (yet with a good will were it not for my obligation to have bought one) and walked to the New Exchange, and after a turn or two and talked I took coach and home, and so to my office, after I had been with my wife and saw her day’s work in ripping the silke standard, which we brought home last night, and it will serve to line a bed, or for twenty uses, to our great content. And there wrote fair my angry letter to my father upon that that he wrote to my cozen Roger Pepys, which I hope will make him the more carefull to trust to my advice for the time to come without so many needless complaints and jealousys, which are troublesome to me because without reason.

yesterday my head
was lighter than my glass

in which I discover a mite
perfect as an angry letter


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 13 February 1663/64.