Dave Bonta

The poem behind the poem says
what do we do with the other
creatures of this world?
Those that stay put, stay put;
those that move, raise their mobile
devices to the window
and press record. What do we do
with the other languages of this world,
the other ways to forget or fall silent?
Dogs can’t be the only ones
whose vocalizations have adapted
to the inattentiveness of the human ear.
And there’s a bird in New Guinea
that can imitate with equal accuracy
a camera shutter or a chainsaw.
What do we do with ourselves
during the 99% of our lives
when we are not listening
to the poem (song, prayer) in which
our actual names happen to be recorded,
and customs agents are demanding more
and more documentation for everything
that crosses a line, while those that stay put
learn to imitate themselves…
I’m sorry, what
was the question again?
I’ve been busy collecting photographs of cherubs.
I love how they manage to be
both fleshy and impossible.
And now the voices are telling me
to mind the gap—
over and over, as if that were
our most essential task…

At home all the morning; in the afternoon I went to the Theatre, and there I saw “Claracilla” (the first time I ever saw it), well acted. But strange to see this house, that used to be so thronged, now empty since the Opera begun; and so will continue for a while, I believe. Called at my father’s, and there I heard that my uncle Robert continues to have his fits of stupefaction every day for 10 or 12 hours together.
From thence to the Exchange at night, and then went with my uncle Wight to the Mitre and were merry, but he takes it very ill that my father would go out of town to Brampton on this occasion and would not tell him of it, which I endeavoured to remove but could not.
Here Mr. Batersby the apothecary was, who told me that if my uncle had the emerods (which I think he had) and that now they are stopped, he will lay his life that bleeding behind by leeches will cure him, but I am resolved not to meddle in it.
Home and to bed.

In the heat and the throng,
the call of stupefaction.
For hours we were out.
I endeavored to move, but not now
that I am in bed.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 4 July 1661.

To Westminster to Mr. Edward Montagu about business of my Lord’s, and so to the Wardrobe, and there dined with my Lady, who is in some mourning for her brother, Mr. Saml. Crew, who died yesterday of the spotted fever. So home through Duck Lane to inquire for some Spanish books, but found none that pleased me. So to the office, and that being done to Sir W. Batten’s with the Comptroller, where we sat late talking and disputing with Mr. Mills the parson of our parish. This day my Lady Batten and my wife were at the burial of a daughter of Sir John Lawson’s, and had rings for themselves and their husbands. Home and to bed.

The war I mourn
died yesterday of spotted fever.
We sat late disputing
at the burial.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 3 July 1661.

To Westminster Hall and there walked up and down, it being Term time. Spoke with several, among others my cozen Roger Pepys, who was going up to the Parliament House, and inquired whether I had heard from my father since he went to Brampton, which I had done yesterday, who writes that my uncle is by fits stupid, and like a man that is drunk, and sometimes speechless.
Home, and after my singing master had done, took coach and went to Sir William Davenant’s Opera; this being the fourth day that it hath begun, and the first that I have seen it. To-day was acted the second part of “The Siege of Rhodes.” We staid a very great while for the King and the Queen of Bohemia. And by the breaking of a board over our heads, we had a great deal of dust fell into the ladies’ necks and the men’s hair, which made good sport. The King being come, the scene opened; which indeed is very fine and magnificent, and well acted, all but the Eunuch, who was so much out that he was hissed off the stage.
Home and wrote letters to my Lord at sea, and so to bed.

Like a speechless opera
or dust in ladies’ hair,
the hiss of the sea.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 2 July 1661.

This morning I went up and down into the city, to buy several things, as I have lately done, for my house. Among other things, a fair chest of drawers for my own chamber, and an Indian gown for myself. The first cost me 33s., the other 34s. Home and dined there, and Theodore Goodgroome, my singing master, with me, and then to our singing. After that to the office, and then home.

Is the city a thing—
one house, a chest
of drawers—
or a singing master,
singing to the office
and the home?


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 1 July 1661.

(Lord’s day). To church, where we observe the trade of briefs is come now up to so constant a course every Sunday, that we resolve to give no more to them. A good sermon, and then home to dinner, my wife and I all alone.
After dinner Sir Williams both and I by water to Whitehall, where having walked up and down, at last we met with the Duke of York, according to an order sent us yesterday from him, to give him an account where the fault lay in the not sending out of the ships, which we find to be only the wind hath been against them, and so they could not get out of the river. Hence I to Graye’s Inn Walk, all alone, and with great pleasure seeing the fine ladies walk there. Myself humming to myself (which now-a-days is my constant practice since I begun to learn to sing) the trillo, and found by use that it do come upon me. Home very weary and to bed, finding my wife not sick, but yet out of order, that I fear she will come to be sick. This day the Portuguese Embassador came to White Hall to take leave of the King; he being now going to end all with the Queen, and to send her over.
The weather now very fair and pleasant, but very hot. My father gone to Brampton to see my uncle Robert, not knowing whether to find him dead or alive. Myself lately under a great expense of money upon myself in clothes and other things, but I hope to make it up this summer by my having to do in getting things ready to send with the next fleet to the Queen.
Myself in good health, but mighty apt to take cold, so that this hot weather I am fain to wear a cloth before my belly.

I walk alone, seeing
the fine ladies walk,
self humming to self.
My constant fear:
I am dead under my clothes.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 30 June 1661.

By a letter from the Duke complaining of the delay of the ships that are to be got ready, Sir Williams both and I went to Deptford and there examined into the delays, and were satisfyed. So back again home and staid till the afternoon, and then I walked to the Bell at the Maypole in the Strand, and thither came to me by appointment Mr. Chetwind, Gregory, and Hartlibb, so many of our old club, and Mr. Kipps, where we staid and drank and talked with much pleasure till it was late, and so I walked home and to bed.
Mr. Chetwind by chewing of tobacco is become very fat and sallow, whereas he was consumptive, and in our discourse he fell commending of “Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity,” as the best book, and the only one that made him a Christian, which puts me upon the buying of it, which I will do shortly.

The ships were satisfied by wind
and I by a book.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 29 June 1661.

At home all the morning practising to sing, which is now my great trade, and at noon to my Lady and dined with her. So back and to the office, and there sat till 7 at night, and then Sir W. Pen and I in his coach went to Moorefields, and there walked, and stood and saw the wrestling, which I never saw so much of before, between the north and west countrymen.
So home, and this night had our bed set up in our room that we called the Nursery, where we lay, and I am very much pleased with the room.

Morning is now my night.
I saw rest I never saw before,
the bed I call Nurse,
and I lease the room.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 28 June 1661.

To my father’s, and with him to Mr. Starlings to drink our morning draft, and there I told him how I would have him speak to my uncle Robert, when he comes thither, concerning my buying of land, that I could pay ready money 600l. and the rest by 150l. per annum, to make up as much as will buy 50l. per annum, which I do, though I not worth above 500l. ready money, that he may think me to be a greater saver than I am. Here I took my leave of my father, who is going this morning to my uncle upon my aunt’s letter this week that he is not well and so needs my father’s help.
At noon home, and then with my Lady Batten, Mrs. Rebecca Allen, Mrs. Thompson, &c., two coaches of us, we went and saw “Bartholomew Fayre” acted very well, and so home again and staid at Sir W. Batten’s late, and so home to bed. This day Mr. Holden sent me a bever, which cost me 4l. 5s.

Starlings land
above me, greater
than my aches,
and mew.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 27 June 1661.