Dave Bonta

Yesterday’s poem was sparked by the footage included here, of a true katydid on the side of my house about a week ago. The music by Peder Norrby (rymdenmusic on Soundcloud) is licensed Attribution-Only under the Creative Commons. I’m experimenting with delivering a poem via text rather than voiceover in a videopoem, but I think I have a ways to go.

I’ll leave it to readers/viewers to decide what the poem means — I’m not really sure myself how best to interpret the last lines. But I will say that I was thinking about idol-worship, or what the Buddhists call upādāna (attachment, clinging, grasping).

At the office all the morning; where Sir John Minnes, our new comptroller, was fetched by Sir Wm. Pen and myself from Sir Wm. Batten’s, and led to his place in the office. The first time that he had come hither, and he seems a good fair condition man, and one that I am glad hath the office.
After the office done, I to the Wardrobe, and there dined, and in the afternoon had an hour or two’s talk with my Lady with great pleasure. And so with the two young ladies by coach to my house, and gave them some entertainment, and so late at night sent them home with Captain Ferrers by coach.
This night my boy Wayneman, as I was in my chamber, I overheard him let off some gunpowder; and hearing my wife chide him below for it, and a noise made, I call him up, and find that it was powder that he had put in his pocket, and a match carelessly with it, thinking that it was out, and so the match did give fire to the powder, and had burnt his side and his hand that he put into his pocket to put out the fire. But upon examination, and finding him in a lie about the time and place that he bought it, I did extremely beat him, and though it did trouble me to do it, yet I thought it necessary to do it. So to write by the post, and to bed.

In my pocket, a match, a hand.
In his pocket, the fire.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 2 November 1661.

the trees react to colder nights by stripping naked
the meadow too

it’s as if they’re about to set off somewhere
all excess baggage is left at the gate

the sun too is a budget traveler
abandoning most of the sky
the days are so quiet now

take me with you
even if there’s nowhere to go
even if it means leaving myself behind

I went this morning with Sir W. Pen by coach to Westminster, and having done my business at Mr. Montagu’s, I went back to him at Whitehall, and from thence with him to the 3 Tun Tavern, at Charing Cross, and there sent for up the maister of the house’s dinner, and dined very well upon it, and afterwards had him and his fayre sister (who is very great with Sir W. Batten and Sir W. Pen in mirth) up to us, and looked over some medals that they shewed us of theirs; and so went away to the Theatre, to “The Joviall Crew,” and from hence home, and at my house we were very merry till late, having sent for his son, Mr. William Pen, lately come from Oxford. And after supper parted, and to bed.

Having done my sin,
I went back to the cross

and so I am late
for supper.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 1 November 1661.

This morning comes Prior of Brampton to me about the house he has to buy of me, but I was forced to be at the office all the morning, and so could not talk with him. And so, after the office was done, and dined at home, I went to my brother Tom’s, and there met him. He demanded some abatement, he having agreed with my father for Barton’s house, at a price which I told him I could not meddle with, but that as for anything to secure his title to them I was ready, and so we parted.
Thence to Sir Robert Bernard, and as his client did ask his advice about my uncle Thomas’s case and ours as to Gravely, and in short he tells me that there is little hopes of recovering it or saving his annuity, which do trouble me much, but God’s will be done. Hence, with my mind full of trouble, to my uncle Fenner’s, when at the alehouse I found him drinking and very jolly and youthsome, and as one that I believe will in a little time get a wife. So home.

Come, buy, talk, dine,
demand, agree, use, meddle:
the client is a little god
of trouble—
one that I believe in.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 31 October 1661.

All the morning at the office. At noon played on my Theorbo, and much pleased therewith; it is now altered with a new neck. In the afternoon Captain Lambert called me out by appointment, and we walked together to Deptford, and there in his ship, the Norwich, I got him to shew me every hole and corner of the ship, much to my information, and the purpose of my going. So home again, and at Sir W. Batten’s heard how he had been already at Sir R. Slingsby’s, as we were all invited, and I intended this night to go, and there he finds all things out of order, and no such thing done to-night, but pretending that the corpse stinks, they will bury it to-night privately, and so will unbespeak all their guests, and there shall be no funerall, which I am sorry for, that there should be nothing done for the honour of Sir Robert, but I fear he hath left his family in great distraction. Here I staid till late at cards with my Lady and Mrs. Martha, and so home. I sent for a bottle or two of wine thither.
At my coming home I am sorry to find my wife displeased with her maid Doll, whose fault is that she cannot keep her peace, but will always be talking in an angry manner, though it be without any reason and to no purpose, which I am sorry for and do see the inconvenience that do attend the increase of a man’s fortune by being forced to keep more servants, which brings trouble.
Sir Henry Vane, Lambert, and others, are lately sent suddenly away from the Tower, prisoners to Scilly; but I do not think there is any plot as is said, but only a pretence; as there was once pretended often against the Cavaliers.

I am in every hole
and corner hip
to information—
a corpse they bury
privately,
a guest of fear,
a doll
who cannot talk, angry
at being a prisoner.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 30 October 1661.

This day I put on my half cloth black stockings and my new coat of the fashion, which pleases me well, and with my beaver I was (after office was done) ready to go to my Lord Mayor’s feast, as we are all invited; but the Sir Williams were both loth to go, because of the crowd, and so none of us went, and I staid and dined with them, and so home, and in evening, by consent, we met at the Dolphin, where other company came to us, and should have been merry, but their wine was so naught, and all other things out of order, that we were not so, but staid long at night, and so home and to bed. My mind not pleased with the spending of this day, because I had proposed a great deal of pleasure to myself this day at Guildhall.
This Lord Mayor, it seems, brings up again the Custom of Lord Mayors going the day of their installment to Paul’s, and walking round about the Cross, and offering something at the altar.

Kings of ash, we are
an evening company
and should have been merry

but the wine and all
other things stayed
on the altar.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 29 October 1661.

At the office all the morning, and dined at home, and so to Paul’s Churchyard to Hunt’s, and there found my Theorbo done, which pleases me very well, and costs me 26s. to the altering. But now he tells me it is as good a lute as any is in England, and is worth well 10l. Hither I sent for Captain Ferrers to me, who comes with a friend of his, and they and I to the Theatre, and there saw “Argalus and Parthenia,” where a woman acted Parthenia, and came afterwards on the stage in men’s clothes, and had the best legs that ever I saw, and I was very well pleased with it. Thence to the Ringo alehouse, and thither sent for a belt-maker, and bought of him a handsome belt for second mourning, which cost me 24s., and is very neat.

A theorbo
is as good as
a captain of
a theater,
a woman in
men’s clothes,
the best legs,
an alehouse,
a hit,
a hand-
some urn.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 28 October 1661.

(Lord’s day). At church in the morning; where in the pew both Sir Williams and I had much talk about the death of Sir Robert, which troubles me much; and them in appearance, though I do not believe it; because I know that he was a cheque to their engrossing the whole trade of the Navy office. Home to dinner, and in the afternoon to church again, my wife with me, whose mourning is now grown so old that I am ashamed to go to church with her. And after church to see my uncle and aunt Wight, and there stayed and talked and supped with them, and were merry as we could be in their company. Among other things going up into their chamber to see their two pictures, which I am forced to commend against my judgment, and also she showed us her cabinet, where she had very pretty medals and good jewels. So home and to prayers and to bed.

A morning where
I talk about death
though I do not believe
in mourning, grown
so old that I am ashamed
to be in the picture.
And she showed us
her cabinet where she had
very pretty prayers.


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 27 October 1661.