Dave Bonta

Up, putting on my best clothes and to the office, where all the morning we sat busy, among other things upon Mr. Woods performance of his contract for masts, wherein I was mightily concerned, but I think was found all along in the right, and shall have my desire in it to the King’s advantage.
At noon, all of us to dinner to Sir W. Pen’s, where a very handsome dinner, Sir J. Lawson among others, and his lady and his daughter, a very pretty lady and of good deportment, with looking upon whom I was greatly pleased, the rest of the company of the women were all of our own house, of no satisfaction or pleasure at all. My wife was not there, being not well enough, nor had any great mind.
But to see how Sir W. Pen imitates me in everything, even in his having his chimney piece in his dining room the same with that in my wife’s closett, and in every thing else I perceive wherein he can. But to see again how he was out in one compliment: he lets alone drinking any of the ladies’ healths that were there, my Lady Batten and Lawson, till he had begun with my Lady Carteret, who was absent, and that was well enough, and then Mr. Coventry’s mistresse, at which he was ashamed, and would not have had him have drunk it, at least before the ladies present, but his policy, as he thought, was such that he would do it.
After dinner by coach with Sir G. Carteret and Sir J. Minnes by appointment to Auditor Beale’s in Salisbury Court, and there we did with great content look over some old ledgers to see in what manner they were kept, and indeed it was in an extraordinary good method, and such as (at least out of design to keep them employed) I do persuade Sir J. Minnes to go upon, which will at least do as much good it may be to keep them for want of something to do from envying those that do something.
Thence calling to see whether Mrs. Turner was returned, which she is, and I spoke one word only to her, and away again by coach home and to my office, where late, and then home to supper and bed.

in the woods I found
good company

everyone was absent as a drunk
present as an old sign

I spoke one word
and away home


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 7 January 1663/64.

(Twelfth day). Up and to my office, where very busy all the morning, being indeed over loaded with it through my own desire of doing all I can. At noon to the ‘Change, but did little, and so home to dinner with my poor wife, and after dinner read a lecture to her in Geography, which she takes very prettily and with great pleasure to her and me to teach her, and so to the office again, where as busy as ever in my life, one thing after another, and answering people’s business, particularly drawing up things about Mr. Wood’s masts, which I expect to have a quarrel about with Sir W. Batten before it be ended, but I care not. At night home to my wife, to supper, discourse, prayers, and to bed.
This morning I began a practice which I find by the ease I do it with that I shall continue, it saving me money and time; that is, to trimme myself with a razer: which pleases me mightily.

where in the geography
of busy people’s prayers
to find ease

I shall continue saving time
that self-razor


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 6 January 1663/64.

Up and to our office, where we sat all the morning, where my head being willing to take in all business whatever, I am afraid I shall over clogg myself with it. But however, it is my desire to do my duty and shall the willinger bear it. At noon home and to the ‘Change, where I met with Luellin, who went off with me and parted to meet again at the Coffeehouse, but missed. So home and found him there, and Mr. Barrow came to speak with me, so they both dined with me alone, my wife not being ready, and after dinner I up in my chamber with Barrow to discourse about matters of the yard with him, and his design of leaving the place, which I am sorry for, and will prevent if I can.
He being gone then Luellin did give me the 50l. from Mr. Deering, which he do give me for my pains in his business and what I may hereafter take for him, though there is not the least word or deed I have yet been guilty of in his behalf but what I am sure has been to the King’s advantage and the profit of the service, nor ever will. And for this money I never did condition with him or expected a farthing at the time when I did do him the service, nor have given any receipt for it, it being brought me by Luellin, nor do purpose to give him any thanks for it, but will wherein I can faithfully endeavour to see him have the privilege of his Patent as the King’s merchant. I did give Luellin two pieces in gold for a pair of gloves for his kindness herein.
Then he being gone, I to my office, where busy till late at night, that through my room being over confounded in business I could stay there no longer, but went home, and after a little supper to bed.

I clog myself with desire
and miss the peak

alone in my barrow
I endeavor to see
give two loves for one
late-night stay


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 5 January 1663/64.

Up betimes, and my wife being ready, and her mayd Besse and the girl, I carried them by coach and set them all down in Covent Garden and there left them, and I to my Lord Sandwich’s lodgings, but he not being up, I to the Duke’s chamber, and there by and by to his closett, where since his lady was ill, a little red bed of velvet is brought for him to lie alone, which is a very pretty one. After doing business here, I to my Lord’s again, and there spoke with him, and he seems now almost friends again as he used to be. Here meeting Mr. Pierce, the chyrurgeon, he told me among other Court newes, how the Queene is very well again, and the King lay with her on Saturday night last; and that she speaks now very pretty English, and makes her sense out now and then with pretty phrazes: as among others this is mightily cried up; that, meaning to say that she did not like such a horse so well as the rest, he being too prancing and full of tricks, she said he did make too much vanity. Thence to the Tennis Court, after I had spent a little time in Westminster Hall, thinking to have met with Mrs. Lane, but I could not and am glad of it, and there saw the King play at Tennis and others: but to see how the King’s play was extolled without any cause at all, was a loathsome sight, though sometimes, indeed, he did play very well and deserved to be commended; but such open flattery is beastly. Afterwards to St. James’s Parke, being unwilling to go to spend money at the ordinary, and there spent an hour or two, it being a pleasant day, seeing people play at Pell Mell; where it pleased me mightily to hear a gallant, lately come from France, swear at one of his companions for suffering his man (a spruce blade) to be so saucy as to strike a ball while his master was playing on the Mall. Thence took coach at White Hall and took up my wife, who is mighty sad to think of her father, who is going into Germany against the Turkes; but what will become of her brother I know not. He is so idle, and out of all capacity, I think, to earn his bread.
Home and at my office till 12 at night making my solemn vowes for the next year, which I trust in the Lord I shall keep, but I fear I have a little too severely bound myself in some things and in too many, for I fear I may forget some. But however, I know the worst, and shall by the blessing of God observe to perform or pay my forfeits punctually. So home and to bed with my mind at rest.

her own garden left her
to her red bed of velvet

the queen pretty as a horse
and full of time

the sight of a blade is sad
to the idle bread


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 4 January 1663/64.

Belgian artist and musician Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon is one of the most original makers of videopoetry (AKA poetry film) in the world, and when he offered to make a book trailer for Ice Mountain, I was thrilled. However, I think you’ll agree that the video he produced is much more than a mere trailer — it’s an original creation in its own right. I supplied most of the footage, but the choice of what to use and how to mix it was all his. He asked me to record a montage of lines and stanzas from the book, which he let me pick, then chose additional lines to display as text-on-screen. The music, which he composed first (and asked me to comment on before finalizing) guided the composition of the video.

Ice Mountain: An Elegy is due out on January 25. If you missed my earlier post, here’s the back-story. And if you’d like a further sample of the contents, I’ve posted a section at DaveBonta.com. (I still feel faintly ridiculous typing that URL!)

(Lord’s day). Lay long in bed, and then rose and with a fire in my chamber staid within all day, looking over and settling my accounts in good order, by examining all my books, and the kitchen books, and I find that though the proper profit of my last year was but 305l., yet I did by other gain make it up 444l., which in every part of it was unforeseen of me, and therefore it was a strange oversight for lack of examining my expenses that I should spend 690l. this year, but for the time to come I have so distinctly settled all my accounts in writing and the particulars of all my several layings out, that I do hope I shall hereafter make a better judgment of my spendings than ever. I dined with my wife in her chamber, she in bed, and then down again and till 11 at night, and broke up and to bed with great content, but could not make an end of writing over my vows as I purposed, but I am agreed in every thing how to order myself for the year to come, which I trust in God will be much for my good. So up to prayers and to bed.
This evening Sir W. Pen came to invite me against next Wednesday, being Twelfth day, to his usual feast, his wedding day.

a fire looking
in all the books

re-writing the endings to make
an end of writing

how to order myself
for the year to come


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 3 January 1663/64.

Up and to the office, and there sitting all the morning, and at noon to the ‘Change, in my going met with Luellin and told him how I had received a letter and bill for 50l. from Mr. Deering, and delivered it to him, which he told me he would receive for me. To which I consented, though professed not to desire it if he do not consider himself sufficiently able by the service I have done, and that it is rather my desire to have nothing till he be further sensible of my service. From the ‘Change I brought him home and dined with us, and after dinner I took my wife out, for I do find that I am not able to conquer myself as to going to plays till I come to some new vowe concerning it, and that I am now come, that is to say, that I will not see above one in a month at any of the publique theatres till the sum of 50s. be spent, and then none before New Year’s Day next, unless that I do become worth 1000l. sooner than then, and then am free to come to some other terms, and so leaving him in Lombard Street I took her to the King’s house, and there met Mr. Nicholson, my old colleague, and saw “The Usurper,” which is no good play, though better than what I saw yesterday. However, we rose unsatisfied, and took coach and home, and I to the office late writing letters, and so to supper and to bed.

to live sufficiently
is to have nothing to find
myself in

I will not see in any theater
a play better than what
I let be


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 2 January 1663/64.

Went to bed between 4 and 5 in the morning with my mind in good temper of satisfaction and slept till about 8, that many people came to speak with me. Among others one came with the best New Year’s gift that ever I had, namely from Mr. Deering, with a bill of exchange drawn upon himself for the payment of 50l. to Mr. Luellin. It being for my use with a letter of compliment. I am not resolved what or how to do in this business, but I conclude it is an extraordinary good new year’s gift, though I do not take the whole, or if I do then give some of it to Luellin. By and by comes Captain Allen and his son Jowles and his wife, who continues pretty still. They would have had me set my hand to a certificate for his loyalty, and I know not what his ability for any employment. But I did not think it fit, but did give them a pleasing denial, and after sitting with me an hour they went away. Several others came to me about business, and then being to dine at my uncle Wight’s I went to the Coffee-house, sending my wife by Will, and there staid talking an hour with Coll. Middleton, and others, and among other things about a very rich widow, young and handsome, of one Sir Nicholas Gold’s, a merchant, lately fallen, and of great courtiers that already look after her: her husband not dead a week yet. She is reckoned worth 80,000l.
Thence to my uncle Wight’s, where Dr. of ——, among others, dined, and his wife, a seeming proud conceited woman, I know not what to make of her, but the Dr’s. discourse did please me very well about the disease of the stone, above all things extolling Turpentine, which he told me how it may be taken in pills with great ease. There was brought to table a hot pie made of a swan I sent them yesterday, given me by Mr. Howe, but we did not eat any of it. But my wife and I rose from table, pretending business, and went to the Duke’s house, the first play I have been at these six months, according to my last vowe, and here saw the so much cried-up play of “Henry the Eighth;” which, though I went with resolution to like it, is so simple a thing made up of a great many patches, that, besides the shows and processions in it, there is nothing in the world good or well done. Thence mightily dissatisfied back at night to my uncle Wight’s, and supped with them, but against my stomach out of the offence the sight of my aunt’s hands gives me, and ending supper with a mighty laugh, the greatest I have had these many months, at my uncle’s being out in his grace after meat, we rose and broke up, and my wife and I home and to bed, being sleepy since last night.

people speak of my gift
for sitting with the dead

I know the disease of the stone
the hot pie made of a swan

how a rose cried
at the sight of my hands


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 1 January 1663/64.

Screenshot of Woodrate photoblog.

Back in October I started posting poetic epigrams with my photos at Instagram, and every few weeks since then, I’ve re-posted them here. This past week, the turn of the calendar fast approaching with its promise of new beginnings, I made the decision to broaden the scope of my 9-year-old Woodrat photoblog from just haiku, and to start cross-posting my Instagram stuff there as a matter of course. I’ve also back-posted all the photos since mid-December, when I last shared a compendium on Via Negativa. So please go look, and bookmark or subscribe to the photoblog if you like. (You can also, obviously, follow me on Instagram or on Flickr, where the photos are mirrored, and/or look for the auto-posts at Twitter or Facebook. And I’ve added the link to the Links drop-down menu in the Via Negativa header.)

There are some really good photographers on Instagram, and I like feeling a part of a community there, but I also like owning my own content and being a responsible netizen. Instagram is first and foremost a cellphone app built on proprietary software, part of a movement by software developers to replace the town square of the world-wide web with private shopping malls, essentially. Not only can one not post to Instagram from the web interface, but no live web links are permitted in any caption or comment. It also bothers me that there’s no way to edit a published caption, to add alt text to make images accessible to the visually handicapped, or to export and save one’s content from the site.

So my decision to re-purpose the old photoblog into a home for these posts is in part a political decision. But it’s also a practical one: I’d like to continue the epigrammatic series for a while, and I know myself well enough to realize that if I tie it to the growth of a more aesthetically pleasing space, I’m more likely to keep it up, just as having a dedicated blog for my Morning Porch tweets has kept that microblogging project going for years. And whereas Morning Porch posts are based on my daily porch-sitting, Woodrat photoblog posts emerge from daily walks (though not typically on the same day the photo was taken). There’s a pleasing symmetry to that.

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning, and among other things Sir W. Warren came about some contract, and there did at the open table, Sir W. Batten not being there; openly defy him, and insisted how Sir W. Batten did endeavour to oppose him in everything that he offered. Sir W. Pen took him up for it, like a counterfeit rogue, though I know he was as much pleased to hear him talk so as any man there. But upon his speaking no more was said but to the business. At noon we broke up and I to the ‘Change awhile, and so home again to dinner, my head aching mightily with being overcharged with business. We had to dinner, my wife and I, a fine turkey and a mince pie, and dined in state, poor wretch, she and I, and have thus kept our Christmas together all alone almost, having not once been out, but to-morrow my vowes are all out as to plays and wine, but I hope I shall not be long before I come to new ones, so much good, and God’s blessing, I find to have attended them. Thence to the office and did several businesses and answered several people, but my head aching and it being my great night of accounts, I went forth, took coach, and to my brother’s, but he was not within, and so I back again and sat an hour or two at the Coffee [house], hearing some simple discourse about Quakers being charmed by a string about their wrists, and so home, and after a little while at my office, I home and supped, and so had a good fire in my chamber and there sat till 4 o’clock in the morning making up my accounts and writing this last Journall of the year. And first I bless God I do, after a large expense, even this month, by reason of Christmas, and some payments to my father, and other things extraordinary, find that I am worth in money, besides all my household stuff, or any thing of Brampton, above 800l., whereof in my Lord Sandwich’s hand, 700l., and the rest in my hand. So that there is not above 5l. of all my estate in money at this minute out of my hands and my Lord’s. For which the good God be pleased to give me a thankful heart and a mind careful to preserve this and increase it.
I do live at my lodgings in the Navy Office, my family being, besides my wife and I, Jane Gentleman, Besse, our excellent, good-natured cookmayde, and Susan, a little girle, having neither man nor boy, nor like to have again a good while, living now in most perfect content and quiett, and very frugally also; my health pretty good, but only that I have been much troubled with a costiveness which I am labouring to get away, and have hopes of doing it. At the office I am well, though envied to the devil by Sir William Batten, who hates me to death, but cannot hurt me. The rest either love me, or at least do not show otherwise, though I know Sir W. Pen to be a false knave touching me, though he seems fair.
My father and mother well in the country; and at this time the young ladies of Hinchingbroke with them, their house having the small-pox in it.
The Queene after a long and sore sicknesse is become well again; and the King minds his mistresse a little too much, if it pleased God! but I hope all things will go well, and in the Navy particularly, wherein I shall do my duty whatever comes of it.
The great talke is the designs of the King of France, whether against the Pope or King of Spayne nobody knows; but a great and a most promising Prince he is, and all the Princes of Europe have their eye upon him. My wife’s brother come to great unhappiness by the ill-disposition, my wife says, of his wife, and her poverty, which she now professes, after all her husband’s pretence of a great fortune, but I see none of them, at least they come not to trouble me.
At present I am concerned for my cozen Angier, of Cambridge, lately broke in his trade, and this day am sending his son John, a very rogue, to sea.
My brother Tom I know not what to think of, for I cannot hear whether he minds his business or not; and my brother John at Cambridge, with as little hopes of doing good there, for when he was here he did give me great cause of dissatisfaction with his manner of life. Pall with my father, and God knows what she do there, or what will become of her, for I have not anything yet to spare her, and she grows now old, and must be disposed of one way or other.
The Duchesse of York, at this time, sicke of the meazles, but is growing well again.
The Turke very far entered into Germany, and all that part of the world at a losse what to expect from his proceedings.
Myself, blessed be God! in a good way, and design and resolution of sticking to my business to get a little money with doing the best service I can to the King also; which God continue! So ends the old year.

like a counterfeit head
blessing no one
or a hand all out of hands

like a devil
who cannot touch
or a god of poverty

spare measle
ticking tin
so ends the old year


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 31 December 1663.