Up and by coach with Sir W. Batten and Sir J. Minnes to White Hall, and, after we had done our usual business with the Duke, to my Lord Sandwich and by his desire to Sir W. Wheeler, who was brought down in a sedan chair from his chamber, being lame of the gout, to borrow 1000l. of him for my Lord’s occasions, but he gave me a very kind denial that he could not, but if any body else would, he would be bond with my Lord for it. So to Westminster Hall, and there find great expectation what the Parliament will do, when they come two days hence to sit again, in matters of religion. The great question is, whether the Presbyters will be contented to have the Papists have the same liberty of conscience with them, or no, or rather be denied it themselves: and the Papists, I hear, are very busy designing how to make the Presbyters consent to take their liberty, and to let them have the same with them, which some are apt to think they will.
It seems a priest was taken in his vests officiating somewhere in Holborn the other day, and was committed by Secretary Morris, according to law; and they say the Bishop of London did give him thanks for it.
Thence to my Lord Crew’s and dined there, there being much company, and the above-said matter is now the present publique discourse.
Thence about several businesses to Mr. Phillips my attorney, to stop all proceedings at law, and so to the Temple, where at the Solicitor General’s I found Mr. Cholmely and Creed reading to him the agreement for him to put into form about the contract for the Mole at Tangier, which is done at 13s. the Cubical yard, though upon my conscience not one of the Committee, besides the parties concerned, do understand what they do therein, whether they give too much or too little.
Thence with Mr. Creed to see Mr. Moore, who continues sick still, within doors, and here I staid a good while after him talking of all the things either business or no that came into my mind, and so home and to see Sir W. Pen, and sat and played at cards with him, his daughter, and Mrs. Rooth, and so to my office a while, and then home and to bed.

on the wheel of occasions
I am denied liberty

a priest officiating in a cubical
not one little door

and no mind to play cards
with a root


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 16 February 1662/63.

for Dave and Mark Bonta

This cold ache, this longing
to belong — orangutans have
already begun to step into
our filthy shoes, have bred
until their habitat is stressed;
recently, two of them turned
against another, ganged up

and beat and killed her, our
first occasion of witnessing
their females commit murder,
so now we aren’t unique in
this respect, the earth does
not need us to manifest this
option, does not need us as

a repository for the bloody-
minded string of X-genes. Our
services may no longer be
required. This cold ache, this
longing to belong — and now,
your brother and another well-
versed in Australian aboriginal
territory and ceremony have

unraveled the old Prometheus
myth — we’d thought that fire
was ours uniquely, a secret
cleverly hidden in a stalk of
fennel, stolen from the gods.
But fifteen observations of
brown falcons and black kites

lifting and relocating burning
twigs of brush to other places
to smoke out their prey —
and this behavior may well
predate our own successes
with such flames, our own
discovery of the handiness

of lightning strikes, the trial
and errors with which we
learned to wrap the embers
from a smoldering tree up in
shag-bark and green leaves,
carry them to where they’d
be useful in preparing food.

So we are not unique in this
thing either, and may not have
even been the first; the gods
from which we stole that fire
may well have been birds;
clearly, the earth does not
need us to manifest this option,

does not need our bodies to
preserve the DNA of pyro-
mania. Our services may no
longer be required. This cold
ache, this longing to belong —
and now —


Inspired by/in response to “February idyll” by Dave Bonta, and two articles: “The Dark Side of the Red Ape” and “Crafty Australian birds may be resorting to arson to smoke out their prey.”

Chayote vines grown
under the canopy: curled
tendrils, prickled leaves
fanned large as plates
under the monsoon skies—
I miss most the fragile
blossoms of squash
whose petals sink
so easily in weights
of water, or puff up
like paper sails dropped
into a pan of heated oil.

To dislodge matter sludged
in the airways or lungs, or
at the base of the throat:
wracked sounds bring up thick
phlegm. On good days, clear:
only foamy spittle not tinged
with blood or trace of bile.
I stood unbidden at the second
floor window that overlooked
the bathroom as my father,
in the slow months leading
to his death, bent over the sink
—thinning hair plastered down
in the shape of an acolyte’s cap.

So much water, why not share it?
—Margaret Hasse, “Water Sign

In the beginning, the only thing present before water
was divided from sky on Day Two: Voice moving o’er water.

He wrote the textbook (literally) — during engineering
the River Lea, Manual of Hydrology, Beardmore water.

In drier climates people are frugal with water that’s left
after washing dishes, irrigate gardens with chore water.

Coconuts grow in the tropics. Whether green or brown they are
coveted treats, a cache of sweet liquid, hidden core water.

Lead. Vanadium. Arsenic. Uranium. Revegator
was a crock cure in 1912, snake oil treatment, ore water.

On the Zambezi River, a traveler can hear it from
forty kilometers — the Victoria Falls roar WATER!

The moon tugs on the edges of the earth’s liquid blankets, kicks
them off, pulls them back, over and over, these tides of shore water.

Tension on the Red Sea’s bank when the slaves were fleeing Egypt —
how to cross? Moses made a path, raised a staff, tore water.

Imagine if we were made of wool, if like the Wicked Witch
of the West we shrunk when we got wet, then we’d abhor water.

Little statue — supposed to be modeled after a ballet
dancer. She refused when she learned Mermaids only wore water.

Rumbling thunder. Terrifying lightning. Wind ripping tree limbs.
A mythical hammer is pounding the heavens: Thor water.

HOLD FAST or an anchor or a heart with MOTHER — sailors get
tattoos. One wanted a wave, fresh ink on shoulder, sore water.

The concrete floor hid a reservoir that filled with rain water.
The house stayed cooler in summer — clever way to store water.

Utah promises adventure of all sorts —- climb, hike and ski,
river running tours that raft the rapids, splash white Splore water.

Hydration Carrier, intimidating name for canteen.
Nalgene flask in a tactical holster pouch, Condor Water.

Children are playing out in the heat. They have a hose and a
bag of balloons, they are laughing and filling up war water.

Everyone is under some kind of pressure, from you and me
to scuba divers. But should we measure in torr or water?

Black, white, advection, hoar, window or rime — all are sorts of frost.
No matter the terminology, they all are frore water.

Dolphin Safe says the tin, a bold claim, a hope porpoises can
find their way out of nets should they swim in albacore water.

Twenty sher, forty lines, forty days, forty nights. Halima
knows Noah declined an encore, he wanted no more water.

(Lord’s day). This morning my wife did wake me being frighted with the noise I made in my sleep, being a dream that one of our sea maisters did desire to see the St. John’s Isle of my drawing, which methought I showed him, but methought he did handle it so hard that it put me to very horrid pain; and what should this be but my cods, which after I woke were in very great pain for a good while. Which what a strange extravagant dream it was.
So to sleep again and lay long in bed, and then trimmed by the barber, and so sending Will to church, myself staid at home, hanging up in my green chamber my picture of the Soveraigne, and putting some things in order there.
So to dinner, to three more ducks and two teals, my wife and I. Then to Church, where a dull sermon, and so home, and after walking about the house awhile discoursing with my wife, I to my office there to set down something and to prepare businesses for tomorrow, having in the morning read over my vows, which through sicknesse I could not do the last Lord’s day, and not through forgetfulness or negligence, so that I hope it is no breach of my vow not to pay my forfeiture. So home, and after prayers to bed, talking long with my wife and teaching her things in astronomy.

I dream of sea
the raw and horrid cod

I dream in a green chamber
ducks and teals coursing through

I could not reach my wife
her thin astronomy


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 15 February 1662/63.

Up and to my office, where we met and sat all the morning, only Mr. Coventry, which I think is the first or second time he has missed since he came to the office, was forced to be absent. So home to dinner, my wife and I upon a couple of ducks, and then by coach to the Temple, where my uncle Thomas, and his sons both, and I, did meet at my cozen Roger’s and there sign and seal to an agreement. Wherein I was displeased at nothing but my cozen Roger’s insisting upon my being obliged to settle upon them as the will do all my uncle’s estate that he has left, without power of selling any for the payment of debts, but I would not yield to it without leave of selling, my Lord Sandwich himself and my cozen Thos. Pepys being judges of the necessity thereof, which was done. One thing more that troubles me was my being forced to promise to give half of what personal estate could be found more than 372l., which I reported to them, which though I do not know it to be less than what we really have found, yet he would have been glad to have been at liberty for that, but at last I did agree to it under my own handwriting on the backside of the report I did make and did give them of the estate, and have taken a copy of it upon the backside of one that I have. All being done I took the father and his son Thos. home by coach, and did pay them 30l., the arrears of the father’s annuity, and with great seeming love parted, and I presently to bed, my head akeing mightily with the hot dispute I did hold with my cozen Roger and them in the business.

ink is the first
forced temple

I sign and seal an agreement
nothing is as personal as handwriting

I make the state a copy
with great seeming art


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 14 February 1662/63.

Back then I had no words
for the hands that emerged
from the pressed darkness of a crowded
movie theatre— all of us behind
the balcony rail, standing room only,
slapstick on the screen as the hero
clutched his boxer shorts and hopped
from the heat of the hornet’s nest
bulging on his behind. How did my
blouse buttons become undone?
Instinctively my elbows became
shards, became flailing
as the roars and laughter
rose in waves in the theatre.
I can write this now with no
guttering sound from my throat,
no constriction in my airways,
though sometimes the simplest
gesture I make still undresses me.

Never a pair of shoes—
that’s like kicking
your love.
If you must,
or if she asks you anyway,
stuff some money bills
in each toe box.

Not lingerie—
perhaps because 20
years her senior,
even after 15 years
of marriage, he never
really got it right.

Not a vacuum cleaner—
especially not after
the Electrolux salesman
who knocked at the door
offered a demo for (he
assumed) his daughter.

 

In response to Via Negativa: February idyll.