Up, and to my cozen Anthony Joyce’s, and there took leave of my aunt James, and both cozens, their wives, who are this day going down to my father’s by coach. I did give my Aunt 20s., to carry as a token to my mother, and 10s. to Pall.
Thence by coach to St. James’s, and there did our business as usual with the Duke; and saw him with great pleasure play with his little girle, like an ordinary private father of a child.
Thence walked to Jervas’s, where I took Jane in the shop alone, and there heard of her, her master and mistress were going out. So I went away and came again half an hour after. In the meantime went to the Abbey, and there went in to see the tombs with great pleasure. Back again to Jane, and there upstairs and drank with her, and staid two hours with her kissing her, but nothing more. Anon took boat and by water to the Neat Houses over against Fox Hall to have seen Greatorex dive, which Jervas and his wife were gone to see, and there I found them (and did it the rather for a pretence for my having been so long at their house), but being disappointed of some necessaries to do it I staid not, but back to Jane, but she would not go out with me. So I to Mr. Creed’s lodgings, and with him walked up and down in the New Exchange, talking mightily of the convenience and necessity of a man’s wearing good clothes, and so after eating a messe of creame I took leave of him, he walking with me as far as Fleete Conduit, he offering me upon my request to put out some money for me into Backewell’s hands at 6 per cent. interest, which he seldom gives, which I will consider of, being doubtful of trusting any of these great dealers because of their mortality, but then the convenience of having one’s money, at an houre’s call is very great.
Thence to my uncle Wight’s, and there supped with my wife, having given them a brave barrel of oysters of Povy’s giving me.
So home and to bed.

I carry my mother like a child
upstairs and down

talking of the necessity
of wearing good clothes

offering my hands which I trust
because of their mortality

her having given them
giving me me


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 12 September 1664.

of hurricane season, only
the beginning of fall.
Speckled leaves detach
from the fig and the oaks,
and the gum begins to drop
its spiked grenades. Where
will the water go after it
has risen, and forced its way
across hardened pavements?
Only the beginning of gradual
darkening: no longer the late
luxuries of sun and lounging
in the shade. Soon the clocks
enact their artificial stay
on time so we might sleep in
an hour or two. Salt bores
its damp fragrance again
into wood: window frames,
dock pilings; swells the sockets
of joints with the ache of rain
and cold. Only the somber
glimmer of shortened days now;
the season only beginning.

(Lord’s day). Up and to church in the best manner I have gone a good while, that is to say, with my wife, and her woman, Mercer, along with us, and Tom, my boy, waiting on us.
A dull sermon. Home, dined, left my wife to go to church alone, and I walked in haste being late to the Abbey at Westminster, according to promise to meet Jane Welsh, and there wearily walked, expecting her till 6 o’clock from three, but no Jane came, which vexed me, only part of it I spent with Mr. Blagrave walking in the Abbey, he telling me the whole government and discipline of White Hall Chappell, and the caution now used against admitting any debauched persons, which I was glad to hear, though he tells me there are persons bad enough. Thence going home went by Jarvis’s, and there stood Jane at the door, and so I took her in and drank with her, her master and mistress being out of doors. She told me how she could not come to me this afternoon, but promised another time. So I walked home contented with my speaking with her, and walked to my uncle Wight’s, where they were all at supper, and among others comes fair Mrs. Margarett Wight, who indeed is very pretty. So after supper home to prayers and to bed. This afternoon, it seems, Sir J. Minnes fell sicke at church, and going down the gallery stairs fell down dead, but came to himself again and is pretty well.

I have gone good and dull
left alone in a hole

caution now used
against any door

to another time where it seems
I fell down dead
but am pretty well


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 11 September 1664.

which Abomination are you?
The quiz bait: Are you an ass lobster,
or a guy who’s just trying to jerk off
but there’s a bird lizard yelling at him?

Do you prefer ham or olives in aspic,
vodka or cranberry tonic? Are you
the one twerking barefoot in the middle
of the room, or the one taking Polaroids
throughout the party, like Warhol did
to mask his social anxiety? One could
go on. Every square inch of the triptych
is a thick soup depicting every type
of folly and the weird. But I’m looking
intently at those circles in hell, where
every dark congress should be sentenced
that’s stripped the people of their rights.
The bird in the poop-colored high chair
should take them one by one into his mouth.
Then they’ll shit pearls of ill-gotten wealth
while armadillos savage their breasts
for extra. Here are the armies of murderous
police, still wearing helmets; they’ll be skewered
by avenging angels with the mangled faces
of salvaged children or dogs. It’s a sad
and terrible country where the ears
of innocents are pinned together then
cleaved by a knife. Migrants and minstrels
and poets are also there, though they’ve been
chained to machines. They make a kind of music,
though the notes are tortured out of their mouths
and their bodies are strung like harps from the trees.

~ after Hieronymous Bosch

 

In response to Via Negativa: Propagandist.

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning, and I much troubled to think what the end of our great sluggishness will be, for we do nothing in this office like people able to carry on a warr. We must be put out, or other people put in.
Dined at home, and then my wife and I and Mercer to the Duke’s house, and there saw “The Rivalls,” which is no excellent play, but good acting in it; especially Gosnell comes and sings and dances finely, but, for all that, fell out of the key, so that the musique could not play to her afterwards, and so did Harris also go out of the tune to agree with her.
Thence home and late writing letters, and this night I received, by Will, 105l., the first-fruits of my endeavours in the late contract for victualling of Tangier, for which God be praised! for I can with a safe conscience say that I have therein saved the King 5000l. per annum, and yet got myself a hope of 300l. per annum without the least wrong to the King.
So to supper and to bed.

I bled ink for this war
people saw me sing and dance

out of key out of night
the fruit of my endeavors

for all for God for the least
wrong king


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 10 September 1664.

Forgive us for our excesses. Tea, seven kinds, including gifts: Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Oolong, Sencha, Matcha, Citrus Blend, Winter Spice. Coffee: in individual pods, and grounds in bags. Noodles: rice, wheat, potato. Dry beans, canned beans. Flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder. Grains: rice, lentil, dry couscous. Eggs and bread. Bay leaves, peppercorns, pink and white salt. Garlic cloves the size of two thumbs. In the freezer: chicken breasts and thighs, ground pork; dried fish from two years ago. Grated lemon rind in a plastic bag. Frozen blocks of butter. Soy beans, frozen stew. Zucchini and bitter melon, tomatoes; knobs of ginger next to the half full box of miso. By the front door, denim jackets on the coat rack; canvas bags and rain shedders. Shoes and shoes and shoes and shoes and shoes and shoes. On the second floor, four low walls of books. Underwear, socks, clothes. Paper towels, toilet paper. Woven runners and counted stitch fabric brought from overseas: birds I might not ever see again; and mountains and chevron bars. Bottles of water ready to load in the car. A plastic box not yet packed with important documents. Document, from the Old French; meaning lesson, written evidence; from Latin documentum meaning example, proof, lesson; in Medieval Latin, official written instrument; meaning something written that provides proof or evidence. Of who we are or were in case we get erased.

Up, and to put things in order against dinner. I out and bought several things, among others, a dozen of silver salts; home, and to the office, where some of us met a little, and then home, and at noon comes my company, namely, Anthony and Will Joyce and their wives, my aunt James newly come out of Wales, and my cozen Sarah Gyles. Her husband did not come, and by her I did understand afterwards, that it was because he was not yet able to pay me the 40s. she had borrowed a year ago of me. I was as merry as I could, giving them a good dinner; but W. Joyce did so talk, that he made every body else dumb, but only laugh at him. I forgot there was Mr. Harman and his wife, my aunt, a very good harmlesse woman. All their talke is of her and my two she-cozen Joyces and Will’s little boy Will (who was also here to-day), down to Brampton to my father’s next week, which will be trouble and charge to them, but however my father and mother desire to see them, and so let them. They eyed mightily my great cupboard of plate, I this day putting my two flaggons upon my table; and indeed it is a fine sight, and better than ever I did hope to see of my owne. Mercer dined with us at table, this being her first dinner in my house.
After dinner left them and to White Hall, where a small Tangier Committee, and so back again home, and there my wife and Mercer and Tom and I sat till eleven at night, singing and fiddling, and a great joy it is to see me master of so much pleasure in my house, that it is and will be still, I hope, a constant pleasure to me to be at home. The girle plays pretty well upon the harpsicon, but only ordinary tunes, but hath a good hand; sings a little, but hath a good voyce and eare. My boy, a brave boy, sings finely, and is the most pleasant boy at present, while his ignorant boy’s tricks last, that ever I saw. So to supper, and with great pleasure to bed.

in the salt of noon comes a dinner
made only of fat

the eye is a fine sight
to see at table

white and still
as an ignorant bed


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 9 September 1664.

Outside, it kept raining— eternal,
infernal rain, tenting us in.

The Australian tourists were going to miss
their bus, since they ordered a taxi late.

Someone was calling the front desk at the station,
trying to ask them to wait. The lobby smelled

like liquefied rubber and raincoats, runny
newsprint, coffee, boiled peanuts. Downstairs

in the bookstore, lamplight held the color
of melted tallow. I made my way to the third

floor, where two rooms had been designated
as a spa. Only one other client was signed in

at the counter. A woman gave me a pair of plastic
slippers, a cotton bathrobe, a thin folded towel.

The shower was thinner than the rain, but hot.
In one of the rooms, the light was more than dim;

I lay on a cot partitioned by curtains. Hands
moved over my back, my nape, my limbs, spreading

oils speckled with sugar or salt, the faint
trace of ginger flowers. I sank into the sheets,

heavy as a stone and damp. The woman who pressed
into my muscles with her fingers was deft though she

was blind. She knew how to work the levers of my spine until
something caught and released, until something fell away.

“Are you the one solid enough? Come, break through,
so that all of your touch might happen to me,
and all of my tears might happen to you.”
~ Rilke

Has everything that could break through
broken through, has the one solid enough
come through the misery and darkness
to touch us in our smallness, to open
some new door in our need?

There are times the only language possible
is dread or premonition: the radio brings us
reports hour upon hour; satellites send us
images of great wheels foaming above cities
where whole grids of light are about to go out.

How or what to negotiate for time
before surrendering to the teeth

of the machine these arched lattices
in the grove, these last rare acres

of golden tithe? Each stalk looks
so brilliant in the faded light

of afternoon, against the skeletal
remains of cities— Once, their names

meant more than panicked seizures
graphed on paper, more than dust

and rubble sifted through in the aftermath.
In the distance, the sea looks like the sea,

blue-green and bounded by farmlands
as in old paintings, swallowing that boy

after his bid for flight, and then that fatal
plunge through sheets of air. Somewhere, a man

dug a hole and buried what little fortune
he had left between the roots of a tree

before they were herded into trains. Somewhere,
a mother gathered her young to shush them

as they made a forest crossing by night.
There was a time you could pull drawers out

of a bee box to see how each connected cell
thick with amber still buzzed faintly with life.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Vagabond.