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).

Called up by my father, poor man, coming to advise with me about Tom’s house and other matters, and he being gone I down by water to Greenwich, it being very-foggy, and I walked very finely to Woolwich, and there did very much business at both yards, and thence walked back, Captain Grove with me talking, and so to Deptford and did the like– there, and then walked to Redriffe (calling and eating a bit of collops and eggs at Half-way house), and so home to the office, where we sat late, and home weary to supper and to bed.

all is one in fog
a fine wool

the grove like a riff
half-way to the ear


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 24 March 1663/64.

Up, and going out saw Mrs. Buggin’s dog, which proves as I thought last night so pretty that I took him and the bitch into my closet below, and by holding down the bitch helped him to line her, which he did very stoutly, so as I hope it will take, for it is the prettiest dog that ever I saw.
So to the office, where very busy all the morning, and so to the ‘Change, and off hence with Sir W. Rider to the Trinity House, and there dined very well: and good discourse among the old men of Islands now and then rising and falling again in the Sea, and that there is many dangers of grounds and rocks that come just up to the edge almost of the sea, that is never discovered and ships perish without the world’s knowing the reason of it.
Among other things, they observed, that there are but two seamen in the Parliament house, viz., Sir W. Batten and Sir W. Pen, and not above twenty or thirty merchants; which is a strange thing in an island, and no wonder that things of trade go no better nor are better understood.
Thence home, and all the afternoon at the office, only for an hour in the evening my Lady Jemimah, Paulina, and Madam Pickering come to see us, but my wife would not be seen, being unready. Very merry with them; they mightily talking of their thrifty living for a fortnight before their mother came to town, and other such simple talk, and of their merry life at Brampton, at my father’s, this winter. So they being gone, to the office again till late, and so home and to supper and to bed.

the old men of islands
never discover ships

observe the sea
only for an hour

talking of thrifty living
and the winter ice


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 23 March 1663/64.

Up, and spent the whole morning and afternoon at my office, only in the evening, my wife being at my aunt Wight’s, I went thither, calling at my own house, going out found the parlour curtains drawn, and inquiring the reason of it, they told me that their mistress had got Mrs. Buggin’s fine little dog and our little bitch, which is proud at this time, and I am apt to think that she was helping him to line her, for going afterwards to my uncle Wight’s, and supping there with her, where very merry with Mr. Woolly’s drollery, and going home I found the little dog so little that of himself he could not reach our bitch, which I am sorry for, for it is the finest dog that ever I saw in my life, as if he were painted the colours are so finely mixed and shaded. God forgive me, it went against me to have my wife and servants look upon them while they endeavoured to do something and yet it provoked me to pleasure with my wife more than usual tonight.

I draw this ink line
no paint so finely mixed and shaded
against the usual night


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 22 March 1663/64.

Up, and it snowing this morning a little, which from the mildness of the winter and the weather beginning to be hot and the summer to come on apace, is a little strange to us. I did not go abroad for fear of my tumour, for fear it shall rise again, but staid within, and by and by my, father came, poor man, to me, and my brother John. After much talke and taking them up to my chamber, I did there after some discourse bring in any business of anger — with John, and did before my father read all his roguish letters, which troubled my father mightily, especially to hear me say what I did, against my allowing any thing for the time to come to him out of my owne purse, and other words very severe, while he, like a simple rogue, made very silly and churlish answers to me, not like a man of any goodness or witt, at which I was as much disturbed as the other, and will be as good as my word in making him to his cost know that I will remember his carriage to me in this particular the longest day I live. It troubled me to see my poor father so troubled, whose good nature did make him, poor wretch, to yield, I believe, to comply with my brother Tom and him in part of their designs, but without any ill intent to me, or doubt of me or my good intentions to him or them, though it do trouble me a little that he should in any manner do it.
They dined with me, and after dinner abroad with my wife to buy some things for her, and I to the office, where we sat till night, and then, after doing some business at my closet, I home and to supper and to bed.
This day the Houses of Parliament met; and the King met them, with the Queene with him. And he made a speech to them: among other things, discoursing largely of the plots abroad against him and the peace of the kingdom; and, among other things, that the dissatisfied party had great hopes upon the effect of the Act for a Triennial Parliament granted by his father, which he desired them to peruse, and, I think, repeal. So the Houses did retire to their own House, and did order the Act to be read to-morrow before them; and I suppose it will be repealed, though I believe much against the will of a good many that sit there.

a little winter and summer rise within

and me in the business of anger
I might say anything severe

like a simple rogue
like a troubled king
I sing of the plots against peace


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 21 March 1663/64.

(Lord’s day). Kept my bed all the morning, having laid a poultice to my cods last night to take down the tumour there which I got yesterday, which it did do, being applied pretty warm, and soon after the beginning of the swelling, and the pain was gone also. We lay talking all the while, among other things of religion, wherein I am sorry so often to hear my wife talk of her being and resolving to die a Catholique, and indeed a small matter, I believe, would absolutely turn her, which I am sorry for. Up at noon to dinner, and then to my chamber with a fire till late at night looking over my brother Thomas’s papers, sorting of them, among which I find many base letters of my brother John’s to him against me, and carrying on plots against me to promote Tom’s having of his Banbury Mistress, in base slighting terms, and in worse of my sister Pall, such as I shall take a convenient time to make my father know, and him also to his sorrow. So after supper to bed, our people rising to wash to-morrow.

a tumor of religion
resolving to die at absolute noon

the fire plots to bury light
in ash


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 20 March 1663/64.

Up and to the office, where all the morning, and at noon my wife and I alone, having a good hen, with eggs, to dinner, with great content. Then by coach to my brother’s, where I spent the afternoon in paying some of the charges of the buriall, and in looking over his papers, among which I find several letters of my brother John’s to him speaking very foul words of me and my deportment to him here, and very crafty designs about Sturtlow land and God knows what, which I am very glad to know, and shall make him repent them. Anon my father and my brother John came to towne by coach. I sat till night with him, giving him an account of things. He, poor man, very sad and sickly. I in great pain by a simple compressing of my cods to-day by putting one leg over another as I have formerly done, which made me hasten home, and after a little at the office in great disorder home to bed.

all morning in a tent spent
speaking to God
knows what I am
to repent of poor
and sickly simple putting
one leg over another
hasten home


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 19 March 1663/64.

Up betimes, and walked to my brother’s, where a great while putting things in order against anon; then to Madam Turner’s and eat a breakfast there, and so to Wotton, my shoemaker, and there got a pair of shoes blacked on the soles against anon for me; so to my brother’s and to church, and with the grave-maker chose a place for my brother to lie in, just under my mother’s pew. But to see how a man’s tombes are at the mercy of such a fellow, that for sixpence he would, (as his owne words were,) “I will justle them together but I will make room for him;” speaking of the fulness of the middle isle, where he was to lie; and that he would, for my father’s sake, do my brother that is dead all the civility he can; which was to disturb other corps that are not quite rotten, to make room for him; and methought his manner of speaking it was very remarkable; as of a thing that now was in his power to do a man a courtesy or not.
At noon my wife, though in pain, comes, but I being forced to go home, she went back with me, where I dressed myself, and so did Besse; and so to my brother’s again: whither, though invited, as the custom is, at one or two o’clock, they came not till four or five. But at last one after another they come, many more than I bid: and my reckoning that I bid was one hundred and twenty; but I believe there was nearer one hundred and fifty. Their service was six biscuits apiece, and what they pleased of burnt claret. My cosen Joyce Norton kept the wine and cakes above; and did give out to them that served, who had white gloves given them. But above all, I am beholden to Mrs. Holden, who was most kind, and did take mighty pains not only in getting the house and every thing else ready, but this day in going up and down to see, the house filled and served, in order to mine, and their great content, I think; the men sitting by themselves in some rooms, and women by themselves in others, very close, but yet room enough. Anon to church, walking out into the streete to the Conduit, and so across the streete, and had a very good company along with the corps. And being come to the grave as above, Dr. Pierson, the minister of the parish, did read the service for buriall: and so I saw my poor brother laid into the grave; and so all broke up; and I and my wife and Madam Turner and her family to my brother’s, and by and by fell to a barrell of oysters, cake, and cheese, of Mr. Honiwood’s, with him, in his chamber and below, being too merry for so late a sad work. But, Lord! to see how the world makes nothing of the memory of a man, an houre after he is dead! And, indeed, I must blame myself; for though at the sight of him dead and dying, I had real grief for a while, while he was in my sight, yet presently after, and ever since, I have had very little grief indeed for him.
By and by, it beginning to be late, I put things in some order in the house, and so took my wife and Besse (who hath done me very good service in cleaning and getting ready every thing and serving the wine and things to-day, and is indeed a most excellent good-natured and faithful wench, and I love her mightily), by coach home, and so after being at the office to set down the day’s work home to supper and to bed.

shoes blacked for the grave
his white gloves going
up and down

but how the dead have us ready
to love a day’s work


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 18 March 1663/64.

Australian singer and artist Marie Craven is one of my favorite makers of poetry videos, so I was flattered and pleased last month when she surprised me with a video based on one of the first poems in Ice Mountain:

Watch on Vimeo.

She used some of my own still photos for a slideshow-style video with the text in subtitles and an instrumental track by Josh Woodward. It all hangs together rather well, I think. Then today she released another video based on the book:

Watch on Vimeo.

This time, she collaborated with her composer friend Paul Dementio to turn my words into a song, and built the video around it using stock footage. Here’s the text:

7 March

paper birch trees can only bend
so far before they break
under the weight of freezing rain

rhododendron leaves
tough as old scrolls are stripped
by starving deer

but some always resprout from the roots
having who knows how many
lifetimes of practice

It’s always such an honor to have one’s words incorporated into other artists’ work. Thanks, Marie and Paul!

Visit Phoenicia Publishing for more about the book, and to order.

Up and to my brother’s, where all the morning doing business against to-morrow, and so to my cozen Stradwicke’s about the same business, and to the ‘Change, and thence home to dinner, where my wife in bed sick still, but not so bad as yesterday. I dined by her, and so to the office, where we sat this afternoon, having changed this day our sittings from morning to afternoons, because of the Parliament which returned yesterday; but was adjourned till Monday next; upon pretence that many of the members were said to be upon the road; and also the King had other affairs, and so desired them to adjourn till then. But the truth is, the King is offended at my Lord of Bristol, as they say, whom he hath found to have been all this while (pretending a desire of leave to go into France, and to have all the difference between him and the Chancellor made up,) endeavouring to make factions in both Houses to the Chancellor. So the King did this to keep the Houses from meeting; and in the meanwhile sent a guard and a herald last night to have taken him at Wimbleton, where he was in the morning, but could not find him: at which the King was and is still mightily concerned, and runs up and down to and from the Chancellor’s like a boy: and it seems would make Digby’s articles against the Chancellor to be treasonable reflections against his Majesty. So that the King is very high, as they say; and God knows what will follow upon it!
After office I to my brother’s again, and thence to Madam Turner’s, in both places preparing things against to-morrow; and this night I have altered my resolution of burying him in the church yarde among my young brothers and sisters, and bury him in the church, in the middle isle, as near as I can to my mother’s pew. This costs me 20s. more. This being all, home by coach, bringing my brother’s silver tankard for safety along with me, and so to supper, after writing to my father, and so to bed.

we change
from morning to afternoon

adjourn to the road
our chance meeting

in the meanwhile
which is like treason against the now

burying in the churchyard
the church


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 17 March 1663/64.

And then I rose and up, leaving my wife in bed, and to my brother’s, where I set them on cleaning the house, and my wife coming anon to look after things, I up and down to my cozen Stradwicke’s and uncle Fenner’s about discoursing for the funeral, which I am resolved to put off till Friday next. Thence home and trimmed myself, and then to the ‘Change, and told my uncle Wight of my brother’s death, and so by coach to my cozen Turner’s and there dined very well, but my wife, having those upon her today and in great pain we were forced to rise in some disorder, and in Mrs. Turner’s coach carried her home and put her to bed. Then back again with my cozen Norton to Mrs. Turner’s, and there staid a while talking with Dr. Pepys, the puppy, whom I had no patience to hear. So I left them and to my brother’s to look after things, and saw the coffin brought; and by and by Mrs. Holden came and saw him nailed up. Then came W. Joyce to me half drunk, and much ado I had to tell him the story of my brother’s being found clear of what was said, but he would interrupt me by some idle discourse or other, of his crying what a good man, and a good speaker my brother was, and God knows what. At last weary of him I got him away, and I to Mrs. Turner’s, and there, though my heart is still heavy to think of my poor brother, yet I could give way to my fancy to hear Mrs. The. play upon the Harpsicon, though the musique did not please me neither. Thence to my brother’s and found them with my mayd Elizabeth taking an inventory of the goods of the house, which I was well pleased at, and am much beholden to Mr. Honeywood’s man in doing of it. His name is Herbert, one that says he knew me when he lived with Sir Samuel Morland, but I have forgot him. So I left them at it, and by coach home and to my office, there to do a little business, but God knows my heart and head is so full of my brother’s death, and the consequences of it, that I can do very little or understand it.
So home to supper, and after looking over some business in my chamber I to bed to my wife, who continues in bed in some pain still. This day I have a great barrel of oysters given me by Mr. Barrow, as big as 16 of others, and I took it in the coach with me to Mrs. Turner’s, and give them to her.
This day the Parliament met again, after a long prorogation, but what they have done I have not been in the way to hear.

a rose to look after
and a puppy to look after
brought joy to me
half drunk

God knows my heart is a fancy music
God knows my heart is full of death


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 16 March 1663/64.