Two tables over in the restaurant,
one child is pouring the contents

of the salt and pepper shakers
into the small pitcher of half-and-half.

She tears off the ends of the small tubes
of sugar and sweetener; then she pours

the juices from the bowl that may have held
soup or salad. She stirs with a wooden stirrer.

The grownups in their chatter
are oblivious. She and another child

next to her take turns sipping
and making faces. They hold out this

concoction and mouth the pleading
syllable. Now, we can hardly wait

to see what it will look like—
that moment of discovery.

Up in the morning about 7 o’clock, and after a little study, resolved of riding to the Wells to look for our dogg, which we did, but could hear nothing; but it being much a warmer day than yesterday there was great store of gallant company, more than then, to my greater pleasure. There was at a distance, under one of the trees on the common, a company got together that sung. I, at the distance, and so all the rest being a quarter of a mile off, took them for the Waytes, so I rode up to them, and found them only voices, some citizens met by chance, that sung four or five parts excellently. I have not been more pleased with a snapp of musique, considering the circumstances of the time and place, in all my life anything so pleasant.
We drank each of us, three cupps, and so, after riding up to the horsemen upon the hill, where they were making of matches to run, we went away and to Yowell, where we found our breakfast, the remains of our supper last night hashed, and by and by, after the smith had set on two new shoes to Creed’s horse, we mounted, and with little discourse, I being intent upon getting home in time, we rode hard home, observing Mr. Gauden’s house, but not calling there (it being too late for me to stay, and wanting their dog too). The house stands very finely, and has a graceful view to the highway. Set up our horses at Fox Hall, and I by water (observing the King’s barge attending his going to the House this day) home, it being about one o’clock. So got myself ready and shifting myself, and so by water to Westminster, and there came most luckily to the Lords’ House as the House of Commons were going into the Lord’s House, and there I crowded in along with the Speaker, and got to stand close behind him, where he made his speech to the King (who sat with his crown on and robes, and so all the Lords in their robes, a fine sight); wherein he told his Majesty what they have done this Parliament, and now offered for his royall consent. The greatest matters were a bill for the Lord’s day (which it seems the Lords have lost, and so cannot be passed, at which the Commons are displeased); the bills against Conventicles and Papists (but it seems the Lords have not passed them), and giving his Majesty four entire subsidys; which last, with about twenty smaller Acts, were passed with this form: The Clerk of the House reads the title of the bill, and then looks at the end and there finds (writ by the King I suppose) “Le Roy le veult,” and that he reads. And to others he reads, “Soit fait comme vous desirez.” And to the Subsidys, as well that for the Commons, I mean the layety, as for the Clergy, the King writes, “Le Roy remerciant les Seigneurs, &c., Prelats, &c., accepte leur benevolences.”
The Speaker’s speech was far from any oratory, but was as plain (though good matter) as any thing could be, and void of elocution.
After the bills passed, the King, sitting on his throne, with his speech writ in a paper which he held in his lap, and scarce looked off of it, I thought, all the time he made his speech to them, giving them thanks for their subsidys, of which, had he not need, he would not have asked or received them; and that need, not from any extravagancys of his, he was sure, in any thing, but the disorders of the times compelling him to be at greater charge than he hoped for the future, by their care in their country, he should be: and that for his family expenses and others, he would labour however to retrench in many things convenient, and would have all others to do so too.
He desired that nothing of old faults should be remembered, or severity for the same used to any in the country, it being his desire to have all forgot as well as forgiven. But, however, to use all care in suppressing any tumults, &c.; assuring them that the restless spirits of his and their adversaries have great expectations of something to be done this summer.
And promised that though the Acts about Conventicles and Papists were not ripe for passing this Session, yet he would take care himself that neither of them should in this intervall be encouraged to the endangering of the peace; and that at their next meeting he would himself prepare two bills for them concerning them.
So he concluded, that for the better proceeding of justice he did think fit to make this a Session, and to prorogue them to the 16th of March next.
His speech was very plain, nothing at all of spirit in it, nor spoke with any; but rather on the contrary imperfectly, repeating many times his words though he read all which I was sorry to see, it having not been hard for him to have got all the speech without book.
So they all went away, the King out of the House at the upper end, he being by and by to go to Tunbridge to the Queen.
And I in the Painted Chamber spoke with my Lord Sandwich while he was putting off his robes, who tells me he will now hasten down into the country, as soon as he can get some money settled on the Wardrobe.
Here meeting Creed, he and I down to the Hall, and I having at Michell’s shop wrote a little letter to Mr. Gauden, to go with his horse, and excusing my not taking leave or so much as asking after the old lady the widow when we came away the other day from them, he and I over the water to Fox Hall, and there sent away the horse with my letter, and then to the new Spring Garden, walking up and down, but things being dear and little attendance to be had we went away, leaving much brave company there, and so to a less house hard by, where we liked very well their Codlin tarts, having not time, as we intended, to stay the getting ready of a dish of pease. And there came to us an idle boy to show us some tumbling tricks, which he did very well, and the greatest bending of his body that ever I observed in my life.
Thence by water to White Hall, and walked over the Park to St. James’s; but missed Mr. Coventry, he not being within; and so out again, and there the Duke was coming along the Pell-Mell. It being a little darkish, I staid not to take notice of him, but we went directly back again. And in our walk over the Park, one of the Duke’s footmen came running behind us, and came looking just in our faces to see who we were, and went back again. What his meaning is I know not, but was fearful that I might not go far enough with my hat off, though methinks that should not be it, besides, there were others covered nearer than myself was, but only it was my fear.
So to White Hall and by water to the Bridge, and so home to bed, weary and well pleased with my journey in all respects. Only it cost me about 20s., but it was for my health, and I hope will prove so, only I do find by my riding a little swelling to rise just by my anus. I had the same the last time I rode, and then it fell again, and now it is up again about the bigness of the bag of a silkworm, makes me fearful of a rupture. But I will speak to Mr. Hollyard about it, and I am glad to find it now, that I may prevent it before it goes too far.

I hear nothing
but a great tree

the voices that have
been with me all my life
crowd into the crown

an oratory of disorder
compelling hope for the future

like an idle boy
looking in our faces
to see who we might be


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 27 July 1663.

I know it isn’t just time
that gives every relic

the look of diminishment—
From the depths of the closet,

I shake out the brown folds
of your coat, try to smooth

the creased lapels. They are
broad, of a cut and style

favored either in the decade
you came of age, or the year

you started your first job.
How do the sleeves look almost

like they were measured
for a child? Houndstooth

and stripe, musk of mothballed
skins. What will be said

of the wardrobe I’ll also leave
behind? Big bones, an appetite

for more that jostled with
the appetite for less? But this

I know: to don the garment, one side
is slipped on first, and then the other.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Father to the man.

(Lord’s-day). Up and to the Wells, where great store of citizens, which was the greatest part of the company, though there were some others of better quality. I met many that I knew, and we drank each of us two pots and so walked away, it being very pleasant to see how everybody turns up his tail, here one and there another, in a bush, and the women in their quarters the like. Thence I walked with Creed to Mr. Minnes’s house, which has now a very good way made to it, and thence to Durdans and walked round it and within the Court Yard and to the Bowling-green, where I have seen so much mirth in my time; but now no family in it (my Lord Barkeley, whose it is, being with his family at London), and so up and down by Minnes’s wood, with great pleasure viewing my old walks, and where Mrs. Hely and I did use to walk and talk, with whom I had the first sentiments of love and pleasure in woman’s company, discourse, and taking her by the hand, she being a pretty woman.
So I led him to Ashted Church (by the place where Peter, my cozen’s man, went blindfold and found a certain place we chose for him upon a wager), where we had a dull Doctor, one Downe, worse than I think even parson King was, of whom we made so much scorn, and after sermon home, and staid while our dinner, a couple of large chickens, were dressed, and a good mess of cream, which anon we had with good content, and after dinner (we taking no notice of other lodgers in the house, though there was one that I knew, and knew and spoke to me, one Mr. Rider, a merchant), he and I to walk, and I led him to the pretty little wood behind my cozens house, into which we got at last by clambering, and our little dog with us, but when we were among the hazel trees and bushes, Lord! what a course did we run for an hour together, losing ourselves, and indeed I despaired I should ever come to any path, but still from thicket to thicket, a thing I could hardly have believed a man could have been lost so long in so small a room. At last I found out a delicate walk in the middle that goes quite through the wood, and then went out of the wood, and holloed Mr. Creed, and made him hunt me from place to place, and at last went in and called him into my fine walk, the little dog still hunting with us through the wood. In this walk being all bewildered and weary and sweating, Creed he lay down upon the ground, which I did a little, but I durst not long, but walked from him in the fine green walk, which is half a mile long, there reading my vows as I used to on Sundays.
And after that was done, and going and lying by Creed an hour, he and I rose and went to our lodging and paid our reckoning, and so mounted, whether to go toward London home or to find a new lodging, and so rode through Epsum, the whole town over, seeing the various companys that were there walking; which was very pleasant to see how they are there without knowing almost what to do, but only in the morning to drink waters. But, Lord! to see how many I met there of citizens, that I could not have thought to have seen there, or that they had ever had it in their heads or purses to go down thither.
We rode out of the town through Yowell beyond Nonesuch House a mile, and there our little dogg, as he used to do, fell a-running after a flock of sheep feeding on the common, till he was out of sight, and then endeavoured to come back again, and went to the last gate that he parted with us at, and there the poor thing mistakes our scent, instead of coming forward he hunts us backward, and runs as hard as he could drive back towards Nonesuch, Creed and I after him, and being by many told of his going that way and the haste he made, we rode still and passed him through Yowell, and there we lost any further information of him.
However, we went as far as Epsum almost, hearing nothing of him, we went back to Yowell, and there was told that he did pass through the town. We rode back to Nonesuch to see whether he might be gone back again, but hearing nothing we with great trouble and discontent for the loss of our dogg came back once more to Yowell, and there set up our horses and selves for all night, employing people to look for the dogg in the town, but can hear nothing of him. However, we gave order for supper, and while that was dressing walked out through Nonesuch Park to the house, and there viewed as much as we could of the outside, and looked through the great gates, and found a noble court; and altogether believe it to have been a very noble house, and a delicate park about it, where just now there was a doe killed, for the King to carry up to Court.
So walked back again, and by and by our supper being ready, a good leg of mutton boiled, we supped and to bed, upon two beds in the same room, wherein we slept most excellently all night.

to see how everybody
turns like the green
blind corn

while we clamber
among the trees

losing ourselves
in a small room
all bewildered

seeing how
they are there
without knowing almost

what to do but have
the outside killed

and ready up beds
in the same room


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 26 July 1663.

A synalepha or synaloepha /ˌsɪnəˈliːfə/ is the merging of two syllables into one, especially when it causes two words to be pronounced as one.

the body folds
and the body opens

like a ledger ready
for each accounting

and as the body opens
so does the soul

here my one face turns
toward rain or sun

and in another world
my other face softens

like a roll of wax
or hardens like stone

Up and to my office setting papers in order for these two or three days, in which I have been hindered a little, and then having intended this day to go to Banstead Downs to see a famous race, I sent Will to get himself ready to go with me, and I also by and by home and put on my riding suit, and being ready came to the office to Sir J. Minnes and Sir W. Batten, and did a little of course at the office this morning, and so by boat to White Hall, where I hear that the race is put off, because the Lords do sit in Parliament to-day. However, having appointed Mr. Creed to come to me to Fox Hall, I went over thither, and after some debate, Creed and I resolved to go to Clapham, to Mr. Gauden’s, who had sent his coach to their place for me because I was to have my horse of him to go to the race. So I went thither by coach and my Will by horse with me; Mr. Creed he went over back again to Westminster to fetch his horse. When I came to Mr. Gauden’s one first thing was to show me his house, which is almost built, wherein he and his family live. I find it very regular and finely contrived, and the gardens and offices about it as convenient and as full of good variety as ever I saw in my life. It is true he hath been censured for laying out so much money; but he tells me that he built it for his brother, who is since dead (the Bishop), who when he should come to be Bishop of Winchester, which he was promised (to which bishoprick at present there is no house), he did intend to dwell here. Besides, with the good husbandry in making his bricks and other things I do not think it costs him so much money as people think and discourse.
By and by to dinner, and in comes Mr. Creed. I saluted Mr. Gauden’s lady, and the young ladies, he having many pretty children, and his sister, the Bishop’s widow; who was, it seems, Sir W. Russel’s daughter, the Treasurer of the Navy; who by her discourse at dinner I find to be very well-bred, and a woman of excellent discourse, even so much as to have my attention all dinner with much more pleasure than I did give to Mr. Creed, whose discourse was mighty merry in inveighing at Mr. Gauden’s victuals that they had at sea the last voyage that he prosecuted, till methought the woman began to take it seriously.
After dinner by Mr. Gauden’s motion we got Mrs. Gauden and her sister to sing to a viall, on which Mr. Gauden’s eldest son (a pretty man, but a simple one methinks) played but very poorly, and the musique bad, but yet I commended it. Only I do find that the ladies have been taught to sing and do sing well now, but that the viall puts them out. I took the viall and played some things from one of their books, Lyra lessons, which they seemed to like well.
Thus we pass an hour or two after dinner and towards the evening we bade them Adieu! and took horse; being resolved that, instead of the race which fails us, we would go to Epsum. So we set out, and being gone a little way I sent home Will to look to the house, and Creed and I rode forward; the road being full of citizens going and coming toward Epsum, where, when we came, we could hear of no lodging, the town so full; but which was better, I went towards Ashted, my old place of pleasure; and there by direction of one goodman Arthur, whom we met on the way, we went to Farmer Page’s, at which direction he and I made good sport, and there we got a lodging in a little hole we could not stand upright in, but rather than go further to look we staid there, and while supper was getting ready I took him to walk up and down behind my cozen Pepys’s house that was, which I find comes little short of what I took it to be when I was a little boy, as things use commonly to appear greater than then when one comes to be a man and knows more, and so up and down in the closes, which I know so well methinks, and account it good fortune that I lie here that I may have opportunity to renew my old walks. It seems there is one Mr. Rouse, they call him the Queen’s Tailor, that lives there now. So to our lodging to supper, and among other meats had a brave dish of cream, the best I ever eat in my life, and with which we pleased ourselves much, and by and by to bed, where, with much ado yet good sport, we made shift to lie, but with little ease, and a little spaniel by us, which has followed us all the way, a pretty dogg, and we believe that follows my horse, and do belong to Mrs. Gauden, which we, therefore, are very careful of.

paper ready to be a little boat
regular and finely contrived

money dead as the house
I intend to dwell in

making bricks
and other poor music

and the books like citizens
old and upright

to a boy things appear greater
than to a man

now I account it good fortune
to follow a dog


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 25 July 1663.

Up pretty early (though of late I have been faulty by an hour or two every morning of what I should do) and by water to the Temple, and there took leave of my cozen Roger Pepys, who goes out of town to-day. So to Westminster Hall, and there at Mrs. Michell’s shop sent for beer and sugar and drink, and made great cheer with it among her and Mrs. Howlett, her neighbour, and their daughters, especially Mrs. Howlett’s daughter, Betty, which is a pretty girl, and one I have long called wife, being, I formerly thought, like my own wife. After this good neighbourhood, which I do to give them occasion of speaking well and commending me in some company that now and then I know comes to their shop, I went to the Six clerks’ office, and there had a writ for Tom Trice, and paid 20s. for it to Wilkinson, and so up and down to many places, among others to the viall maker’s, and there saw the head, which now pleases me mightily, and so home, and being sent for presently to Mr. Bland’s, where Mr. Povy and Gauden and I were invited to dinner, which we had very finely and great plenty, but for drink, though many and good, I drank nothing but small beer and water, which I drank so much that I wish it may not do me hurt.
They had a kinswoman, they call daughter, in the house, a short, ugly, red-haired slut, that plays upon the virginalls, and sings, but after such a country manner I was weary of it, but yet could not but commend it. So by and by after dinner comes Monsr. Gotier, who is beginning to teach her, but, Lord! what a droll fellow it is to make her hold open her mouth, and telling this and that so drolly would make a man burst, but himself I perceive sings very well.
Anon we sat down again to a collacon of cheesecakes, tarts, custards, and such like, very handsome, and so up and away home, where I at the office a while, till disturbed by, Mr. Hill, of Cambridge, with whom I walked in the garden a while, and thence home and then in my dining room walked, talking of several matters of state till 11 at night, giving him a glass of wine.
I was not unwilling to hear him talk, though he is full of words, yet a man of large conversation, especially among the Presbyters and Independents; he tells me that certainly, let the Bishops alone, and they will ruin themselves, and he is confident that the King’s declaration about two years since will be the foundation of the settlement of the Church some time or other, for the King will find it hard to banish all those that will appear Nonconformists upon this Act that is coming out against them.
He being gone, I to bed.

beer and cheer and howl
form a neighborhood

the company of kin and others
a bland plenty

but so much hurt
in an ugly mouth

that sings like a glass ruin
of the church

so hard to banish
all nonconformists


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 24 July 1663.

Up and to my office, and thence by information from Mr. Ackworth I went down to Woolwich, and mustered the three East India ships that lie there, believing that there is greatjuggling between the Pursers and Clerks of the Cheque in cheating the King of the wages and victuals of men that do not give attendance, and I found very few on board.
So to the yard, and there mustered the yard, and found many faults, and discharged several fellows that were absent from their business.
I staid also at Mr. Ackworth’s desire at dinner with him and his wife, and there was a simple fellow, a gentleman I believe of the Court, their kinsman, that made me I could have little discourse or begin acquaintance with Ackworth’s wife: and so after dinner away, with all haste home, and there found Sir J. Minnes and Sir W. Batten at the office, and by Sir W. Batten’s testimony and Sir G. Carteret’s concurrence was forced to consent to a business of Captain Cocke’s timber, as bad as anything we have lately disputed about, and all through Mr. Coventry’s not being with us.
So up and to supper with Sir W. Batten upon a soused mullett, very good meat, and so home and to bed.

information worth a lie
that great juggling of the ages
give it away
as testimony to sin
as bad meat


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 23 July 1663.

Two weeks and the doctor’s
prescription does not seem
to have worked…

You walk all day in the sun
and try to do the things
you are used to doing,

and which you call work or routine,
except for the constant, low-level
buzzing under your skin.

You wake in the middle of the night
from a burning sensation— an itch
in the groin, dull throbbing

temples: what is it? What’s set
the little cells ablaze? Why
are they no longer happy

to be fed bread, coffee, soup,
strawberries dipped in cream?
Your joints creak like a boat

left too long in water; knees
swell like cantaloupes, dull
with too much sugar

or salt or ill humor. Is this
what it means to crest the middle?
If so then perhaps you’re

better off taking that long-
deferred vacation, pouring cereal
into your heaviest piece of china.

Use the gifts of wine and scent,
the embroidered scarves someone
sent you from overseas. How

is it better to choose austerity
over the extravagance of using
it all up now, while you can?

 

In response to Via Negativa: Revision.

In the aviary, brilliance of a blue
peacock pheasant next to the small

lorikeet. The heat’s constant hum
and white flash above low buildings.

Throughout the grounds, in their
solitary spaces, the meerkats

and sloth bears loll on their sides.
Who placed the empty Pampers boxes

next to the hollowed-out log?
In the shallow pool, Caribbean

flamingoes tip their heads into water,
turning their bills into cups.

There are tigers somewhere behind
the glassed-in enclosure. There is

a lion lying in the yellow dust
beside a stone pillar, sadder

than the white flowers on the vine,
that open their throats only once a year.