Up, and through pain, to my great grief forced to wear my gowne to keep my legs warm. At the office all the morning, and there a high dispute against Sir W. Batten and Sir W. Pen about the breadth of canvas again, they being for the making of it narrower, I and Mr. Coventry and Sir J. Minnes for the keeping it broader. So home to dinner, and by and by comes Mr. Creed, lately come from the Downes, and dined with me. I show him a good countenance, but love him not for his base ingratitude to me. However, abroad, carried my wife to buy things at the New Exchange, and so to my Lady Sandwich’s, and there merry, talking with her a great while, and so home, whither comes Cocker with my rule, which he hath engraved to admiration, for goodness and smallness of work: it cost me 14s. the doing, and mightily pleased I am with it. By and by, he gone, comes Mr. Moore and staid talking with me a great while about my Lord’s businesses, which I fear will be in a bad condition for his family if my Lord should miscarry at sea. He gone, I late to my office, and cannot forbear admiring and consulting my new rule, and so home to supper and to bed.
This day, for a wager before the King, my Lords of Castlehaven and Arran (a son of my Lord of Ormond’s), they two alone did run down and kill a stoute bucke in St. James’s parke.

through great grief is a narrow road
to gratitude for goodness
work and family

I miscarry a sea and cannot bear
my new day alone


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 11 August 1664.

Who knows what kindness is anymore,
what is compassion? The streets fill

with those who have forgotten who
they are. They’ll burn torches

at midnight and high noon, plant them
on lawns; tear down doors, break dinnerware

on the counters, shred clothes in the drawers
and on the line. In the pitcher, there is still

water cool as the wells from where
it was drawn. On the board, enough bread

without need for asking. The owl shreds a small,
quivering thing in its talons; the vulture skulks

among the rocks— we call this blind nature,
but this is not the same. The water is cobalt

with sadness, but nowhere like the terrible sadness
boiling in the streets with incoherent fire.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Day of the dead.

Up, and, being ready, abroad to do several small businesses, among others to find out one to engrave my tables upon my new sliding rule with silver plates, it being so small that Browne that made it cannot get one to do it. So I find out Cocker, the famous writing-master, and get him to do it, and I set an hour by him to see him design it all; and strange it is to see him with his natural eyes to cut so small at his first designing it, and read it all over, without any missing, when for my life I could not, with my best skill, read one word or letter of it; but it is use. But he says that the best light for his life to do a very small thing by (contrary to Chaucer’s words to the Sun, “that he should lend his light to them that small seals grave”), it should be by an artificial light of a candle, set to advantage, as he could do it. I find the fellow, by his discourse, very ingenuous; and among other things, a great admirer and well read in all our English poets, and undertakes to judge of them all, and that not impertinently. Well pleased with his company and better with his judgement upon my Rule, I left him and home, whither Mr. Deane by agreement came to me and dined with me, and by chance Gunner Batters’s wife.
After dinner Deane and I [had] great discourse again about my Lord Chancellor’s timber, out of which I wish I may get well. Thence I to Cocker’s again, and sat by him with good discourse again for an hour or two, and then left him, and by agreement with Captain Silas Taylor (my old acquaintance at the Exchequer) to the Post Officer to hear some instrument musique of Mr. Berchenshaw’s before my Lord Brunkard and Sir Robert Murray. I must confess, whether it be that I hear it but seldom, or that really voice is better, but so it is that I found no pleasure at all in it, and methought two voyces were worth twenty of it.
So home to my office a while, and then to supper and to bed.

my new writing
is without any word or letter

but the best sun
is an artificial light

a poet takes great
discourse for music

and I must confess
I hear voices


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 10 August 1664.

Up, and to my office, and there we sat all the morning, at noon home, and there by appointment Mr. Blagrave came and dined with me, and brought a friend of his of the Chappell with him. Very merry at dinner, and then up to my chamber and there we sung a Psalm or two of Lawes’s, then he and I a little talke by ourselves of his kinswoman that is to come to live with my wife, who is to come about ten days hence, and I hope will do well. They gone I to my office, and there my head being a little troubled with the little wine I drank, though mixed with beer, but it may be a little more than I used to do, and yet I cannot say so, I went home and spent the afternoon with my wife talking, and then in the evening a little to my office, and so home to supper and to bed.
This day comes the newes that the Emperour hath beat the Turke; killed the Grand Vizier and several great Bassas, with an army of 80,000 men killed and routed; with some considerable loss of his own side, having lost three generals, and the French forces all cut off almost. Which is thought as good a service to the Emperour as beating the Turke almost, for had they conquered they would have been as troublesome to him.

I sat on a grave and dined

the day mixed with evening
routed and red


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 9 August 1664.

I go out and look straight up at the sky
and the clouds, at the dizzying height

of buildings that cast their shadow
as we walk through the streets. How

are we lucky to get this patch of blue,
to dodge death’s mushroom cloud today,

to slide for the time being past the Reaper’s
attention? Dandelions by the fence don’t yet wear

an invisible halo that sets off clicks in a Geiger
counter. Chain links vibrate as children catapult

their bodies higher in park swings. Who has a basement
underneath their apartment building? Who has a shelter

lined with provisions under a gum tree in the yard?
The deer run deeper into the wood, upturned flags

quivering from the white smoke of danger. Weren’t we
standing in this same spot less than a hundred years ago?

After rain, water collects in the cistern. For the moment,
it can still sing its green toward my unbearable thirst.

 

In response to Kissing gate.

Up and abroad with Sir W. Batten, by coach to St. James’s, where by the way he did tell me how Sir J. Minnes would many times arrogate to himself the doing of that that all the Board have equal share in, and more that to himself which he hath had nothing to do in, and particularly the late paper given in by him to the Duke, the translation of a Dutch print concerning the quarrel between us and them, which he did give as his own when it was Sir Richard Ford’s wholly. Also he told me how Sir W. Pen (it falling in our discourse touching Mrs. Falconer) was at first very great for Mr. Coventry to bring him in guests, and that at high rates for places, and very open was he to me therein.
After business done with the Duke, I home to the Coffee-house, and so home to dinner, and after dinner to hang up my fine pictures in my dining room, which makes it very pretty, and so my wife and I abroad to the King’s play-house, she giving me her time of the last month, she having not seen any then; so my vowe is not broke at all, it costing me no more money than it would have done upon her, had she gone both her times that were due to her. Here we saw “Flora’s Figarys.” I never saw it before, and by the most ingenuous performance of the young jade Flora, it seemed as pretty a pleasant play as ever I saw in my life.
So home to supper, and then to my office late, Mr. Andrews and I to talk about our victualling commission, and then he being gone I to set down my four days past journalls and expenses, and so home to bed.

would a gate have equal share
in the translation between us

touching at first
and open as a road

giving both me and you
our own past


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 8 August 1664.

Once I bought a cookbook purely because
the author’s first name was Fuschia,

just like the color. I mean I also like that it
focuses mostly on Asian flavors. Almost all recipes

in it have beguiling instructions like Heat
some oil in a pan, smack the white parts

of spring onions with the back of a cleaver,
finely chop some garlic and ginger; throw

these in and stir until wonderfully fragrant.
Now every time I stand at the stove I try

to conjure that wonderfully fragrant cloud,
try to blanket the sauce and garnishes prettily

over the fish. And at the drugstore, waiting
for a prescription to fill, I like to amuse

myself walking through the aisles, reading
labels on beauty products. Nail polish, for instance:

Playing Koi, Udon no Me, Smoke and Mirrors, Queen
of Hearts, Angel Food
. After my father-in-law passed away

last winter, my husband and I decided to throw in
a downpayment for a share in the family plot tucked

in one grassy section of a sprawling cemetery in Niles.
Here, just now, I must tell you I debated on the use

of graveyard vs. cemetery, until some quick research
showed that graveyard historically refers to a much smaller

burial ground annexed to a church. Also, grave comes from the early
Germanic graban, meaning to dig; while cemetery comes

from the Old French cimetiere— it means burying place, but
also hails from the older Greek koimeterion or sleeping place—

This makes me feel a new fondness for cemetery, which previously
I thought merely grey and serviceable. I started wondering

about the costs of dying today, and Googling led me to various online
catalogs of coffins. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been surprising

to find styles like “The Buckingham” (solid polished hardwood, fluted
corner pillars), “The Hainsworth” (pure new wood fibre with true green

lineage), “In the Garden” (variety of painted themes including Monet’s
garden), or “Seagrass” (woven, made from sustainable and biodegradable

materials). Why shouldn’t we care about any bit of beauty we can take
with us until the very end, before slipping into uniform darkness?

 

In response to Via Negativa: #amwriting.

(Lord’s day). Lay long caressing my wife and talking, she telling me sad stories of the ill, improvident, disquiett, and sluttish manner that my father and mother and Pall live in the country, which troubles me mightily, and I must seek to remedy it. So up and ready, and my wife also, and then down and I showed my wife, to her great admiration and joy, Mr. Gauden’s present of plate, the two flaggons, which indeed are so noble that I hardly can think that they are yet mine. So blessing God for it, we down to dinner mighty pleasant, and so up after dinner for a while, and I then to White Hall, walked thither, having at home met with a letter of Captain Cooke’s, with which he had sent a boy for me to see, whom he did intend to recommend to me. I therefore went and there met and spoke with him. He gives me great hopes of the boy, which pleases me, and at Chappell I there met Mr. Blagrave, who gives a report of the boy, and he showed me him, and I spoke to him, and the boy seems a good willing boy to come to me, and I hope will do well. I am to speak to Mr. Townsend to hasten his clothes for him, and then he is to come. So I walked homeward and met with Mr. Spong, and he with me as far as the Old Exchange talking of many ingenuous things, musique, and at last of glasses, and I find him still the same ingenuous man that ever he was, and do among other fine things tell me that by his microscope of his owne making he do discover that the wings of a moth is made just as the feathers of the wing of a bird, and that most plainly and certainly. While we were talking came by several poor creatures carried by, by constables, for being at a conventicle. They go like lambs, without any resistance. I would to God they would either conform, or be more wise, and not be catched! Thence parted with him, mightily pleased with his company, and away homeward, calling at Dan Rawlinson, and supped there with my uncle Wight, and then home and eat again for form sake with her, and then to prayers and to bed.

long sad stories
live in the country

they might hit the glass
on the wings of bird

poor creatures without
any art or prayer


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 7 August 1664.