Up and to my office, and so to dinner at home, and then to several places to pay my debts, and then to Westminster to Dr. Castle, who discoursed with me about Privy Seal business, which I do not much mind, it being little worth, but by Watkins’s late sudden death we are like to lose money. Thence to Mr. de Cretz, and there saw some good pieces that he hath copyed of the King’s pieces, some of Raphael and Michael Angelo; and I have borrowed an Elizabeth of his copying to hang up in my house, and sent it home by Will. Thence with Mr. Salisbury, who I met there, into Covent Garden to an alehouse, to see a picture that hangs there, which is offered for 20s., and I offered fourteen — but it is worth much more money — but did not buy it, I having no mind to break my oath. Thence to see an Italian puppet play that is within the rayles there, which is very pretty, the best that ever I saw, and great resort of gallants. So to the Temple and by water home, and so walk upon the leads, and in the dark there played upon my flageolette, it being a fine still evening, and so to supper and to bed.
This day I paid Godfrey’s debt of 40 and odd pounds. The Duke of York went last night to Portsmouth; so that I believe the Queen is near.
In several places, the sea—
like money, the copy
of a copy. But having
no mind to break, it is
the best resort of water
on a fine still night.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 9 May 1662.
At the office all the morning doing business alone, and then to the Wardrobe, where my Lady going out with the children to dinner I staid not, but returned home, and was overtaken in St. Paul’s Churchyard by Sir G. Carteret in his coach, and so he carried me to the Exchange, where I staid awhile. He told me that the Queen and the fleet were in Mount’s Bay on Monday last, and that the Queen endures her sickness pretty well. He also told me how Sir John Lawson hath done some execution upon the Turks in the Straight, of which I am glad, and told the news the first on the Exchange, and was much followed by merchants to tell it. So home and to dinner, and by and by to the office, and after the rest gone (my Lady Albemarle being this day at dinner at Sir W. Batten’s) Sir G. Carteret comes, and he and I walked in the garden, and, among other discourse, tells me that it is Mr. Coventry that is to come to us as a Commissioner of the Navy; at which he is much vexed, and cries out upon Sir W. Pen, and threatens him highly. And looking upon his lodgings, which are now enlarging, he in passion cried, “Guarda mi spada; for, by God, I may chance to keep him in Ireland, when he is there:” for Sir W. Pen is going thither with my Lord Lieutenant. But it is my design to keep much in with Sir George; and I think I have begun very well towards it. So to the office, and was there late doing business, and so with my head full of business I to bed.
A child overtaken by change
endures her sickness
in the garden,
the navy may land there,
for pen and ink have begun
to do business.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 8 May 1662.
Little mouth, you work
in spasms even in the midst
of dreams— and I must ask,
what will sate that gnawing
hunger, once and for all?
In the field, gnats draw electric
circles around your ankles, near
your arms— every warm body
in the grass, a vessel brimming
with blood and unsung ardors.
Slaughter the raucous animal
then singe the short hairs down
to ashy gristle. Take the knife
and sweep it across the length
and breadth of its back until
it glistens like pale marble.
Under its voluptuous library
of organs, that one olive-
shaded sac you’ll puncture,
those bitter drops to scatter
like benediction over the soup:
May you live with this aftertaste
of metal, with this glint of iron
and the sharpness of bile. Dissolving,
let the wound make bearable
every taste that follows after.
Walked to Westminster; where I understand the news that Mr. Montagu is this last night come to the King with news, that he left the Queen and fleet in the Bay of Biscay, coming this wayward; and that he believes she is now at the Isle of Scilly. So at noon to my Lord Crew’s and there dined, and after dinner Sir Thos. Crew and I talked together, and among other instances of the simple light discourse that sometimes is in the Parliament House, he told me how in the late business of Chymny money, when all occupiers were to pay, it was questioned whether women were under that name to pay, and somebody rose and said that they were not occupiers, but occupied.
Thence to Paul’s Church Yard; where seeing my Lady’s Sandwich and Carteret, and my wife (who this day made a visit the first time to my Lady Carteret), come by coach, and going to Hide Park, I was resolved to follow them; and so went to Mrs. Turner’s: and thence found her out at the Theatre, where I saw the last act of the “Knight of the Burning Pestle,” which pleased me not at all. And so after the play done, she and The. Turner and Mrs. Lucin and I, in her coach to the Park; and there found them out, and spoke to them; and observed many fine ladies, and staid till all were gone almost. And so to Mrs. Turner’s, and there supped, and so walked home, and by and by comes my wife home, brought by my Lady Carteret to the gate, and so to bed.
Where the news is
is the news:
the fleet in the bay,
this wayward isle of noon,
a dinner of simple light.
Sometimes the parliament,
when all question whether
to pay some rose,
is found burning.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 7 May 1662.
The five-fingered leaf is a word
that keeps its own counsel in the wood.
Evasive in moonlight, it instructs
on the ways to avoid repetition—
Be one and be many; be brief
in your longing. Let boundaries
flourish with your handwriting.
Cast a shadow, but be green.
This morning I got my seat set up on the leads, which pleases me well. So to the office, and thence to the Change, but could not meet with my uncle Wight. So home to dinner and then out again to several places to pay money and to understand my debts, and so home and walked with my wife on the leads, and so to supper and to bed.
I find it a hard matter to settle to business after so much leisure and pleasure.
pleases me, but not
to stand and walk.
A hard matter
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 6 May 1662.
Spokes of light that sang over the valley,
spun flames that trembled like the wings of doves.
How did we walk all summer and into the next
season of rain? But we did, as if into the arms
of our most familiar, into the flesh of our everyday
fate. Did we have time to make garments out of our
recurring laments? We must have cried out in the heat,
in the cold; or clung to a bridegroom, an archipelago
of circling desires. Sometimes to wait is not an option.
Sometimes the only thing to do is hurry into the coming storm.
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.
And certain nights
bring me the word neroli:
first the white bud opens,
amalgam of rain and honey;
then the pucker of its musk
heating up the sheets in the room.
In response to Via Negativa: Sunday morning.
My arme not being well, I staid within all the morning, and dined alone at home, my wife being gone out to buy some things for herself, and a gown for me to dress myself in. And so all the afternoon looking over my papers, and at night walked upon the leads, and so to bed.
all the morning to herself
and a gown for me—
Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 5 May 1662.