Up with my mind disturbed and with my last night’s doubts upon me.
For which I deserve to be beaten if not really served as I am fearful of being, especially since God knows that I do not find honesty enough in my own mind but that upon a small temptation I could be false to her, and therefore ought not to expect more justice from her, but God pardon both my sin and my folly herein.
To my office and there sitting all the morning, and at noon dined at home. After dinner comes Pembleton, and I being out of humour would not see him, pretending business, but, Lord! with what jealousy did I walk up and down my chamber listening to hear whether they danced or no, which they did, notwithstanding I afterwards knew and did then believe that Ashwell was with them. So to my office awhile, and, my jealousy still reigning, I went in and, not out of any pleasure but from that only reason, did go up to them to practise, and did make an end of “La Duchesse,” which I think I should, with a little pains, do very well. So broke up and saw him gone.
Then Captain Cocke coming to me to speak about my seeming discourtesy to him in the business of his hemp, I went to the office with him, and there discoursed it largely and I think to his satisfaction.
Then to my business, writing letters and other things till late at night, and so home to supper and bed. My mind in some better ease resolving to prevent matters for the time to come as much as I can, it being to no purpose to trouble myself for what is past, being occasioned too by my own folly.

with night’s doubt upon me
I find a small god

sitting in amber
listening

whether or not I believe
it pains me

and it matters as much
as what I own


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 16 May 1663.

In fifth grade, the year after our school
became co-ed, when I stood up for recess
I left a smear of blood on my seat.

The teacher took me to the faculty office,
found me a pad and helped me wipe the dark
spot from my navy blue skirt.

Then when we returned to class she made me
the morning’s science lesson, never
realizing how deeply I flushed

from shame. At home, surrendering my soiled
uniform and undergarments to my mother,
I was lectured on chastity and virtue, not quite

understanding yet what they had to do
with this body so newly perforated
from inside, from an unseen wound.

She went and bought a copy of a book
with a bride all gloved and veiled on the cover
amid a retinue of bridesmaids—

On Becoming a Woman— and thrust it
into my hands, not knowing how else
to talk about it. The rest

I was supposed to figure out myself, along with
how to manage the mess, the cramping, the stale-
sour smell that floated as if just beneath

the surface of the skin. The only out-
ward rules: too dangerous to start holding hands
or kissing any boys. No eating musky fruit. No bathing.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Up betimes and walked to St. James’s, where Mr. Coventry being in bed I walked in the Park, discoursing with the keeper of the Pell Mell, who was sweeping of it; who told me of what the earth is mixed that do floor the Mall, and that over all there is cockle-shells powdered, and spread to keep it fast; which, however, in dry weather, turns to dust and deads the ball. Thence to Mr. Coventry; and sitting by his bedside, he did tell me that he sent for me to discourse upon my Lord Sandwich’s allowances for his several pays, and what his thoughts are concerning his demands; which he could not take the freedom to do face to face, it being not so proper as by me: and did give me a most friendly and ingenuous account of all; telling me how unsafe, at this juncture, while every man’s, and his actions particularly, are descanted upon, it is either for him to put the Duke upon doing, or my Lord himself to desire anything extraordinary, ‘specially the King having been so bountifull already; which the world takes notice of even to some repinings. All which he did desire me to discourse with my Lord of; which I have undertook to do.
We talked also of our office in general, with which he told me that he was now-a-days nothing so satisfied as he was wont to be. I confess I told him things are ordered in that way that we must of necessity break in a little time a pieces.
After done with him about these things, he told me that for Mr. Hater the Duke’s word was in short that he found he had a good servant, an Anabaptist, and unless he did carry himself more to the scandal of the office, he would bear with his opinion till he heard further, which do please me very much.
Thence walked to Westminster, and there up and down in the Hall and the Parliament House all the morning; at noon by coach to my Lord Crew’s, hearing that Lord Sandwich did dine there; where I told him what had passed between Mr. Coventry and myself; with which he was contented, though I could perceive not very well pleased. And I do believe that my Lord do find some other things go against his mind in the House; for in the motion made the other day in the House by my Lord Bruce, that none be capable of employment but such as have been loyal and constant to the King and Church, the General and my Lord were mentioned to be excepted; and my Lord Bruce did come since to my Lord, to clear himself that he meant nothing to his prejudice, nor could it have any such effect if he did mean it. After discourse with my Lord; to dinner with him; there dining there my Lord Montagu of Boughton, Mr. William Montagu his brother, the Queen’s Sollicitor, &c., and a fine dinner.
Their talk about a ridiculous falling-out two days ago at my Lord of Oxford’s house, at an entertainment of his, there being there my Lord of Albemarle, Lynsey, two of the Porters, my Lord Bellasses, and others, where there were high words and some blows, and pulling off of perriwiggs; till my Lord Monk took away some of their swords, and sent for some soldiers to guard the house till the fray was ended. To such a degree of madness the nobility of this age is come!
After dinner I went up to Sir Thomas Crew, who lies there not very well in his head, being troubled with vapours and fits of dizziness: and there I sat talking with. him all the afternoon from one discourse to another, the most was upon the unhappy posture of things at this time; that the King do mind nothing but pleasures, and hates the very sight or thoughts of business; that my Lady Castlemaine rules him, who, he says, hath all the tricks of Aretin that are to be practised to give pleasure. In which he is too able, having a large —-. but what is the unhappiness in that, as the Italian proverb says, “lazzo dritto non vuolt consiglio.” If any of the sober counsellors give him good advice, and move him in anything that is to his good and honour, the other part, which are his counsellers of pleasure, take him when he is with my Lady Castlemaine, and in a humour of delight, and then persuade him that he ought not to hear nor listen to the advice of those old dotards or counsellors that were heretofore his enemies: when, God knows! it is they that now-a-days do most study his honour. It seems the present favourites now are my Lord Bristol, Duke of Buckingham, Sir H. Bennet, my Lord Ashley, and Sir Charles Barkeley; who, among them, have cast my Lord Chancellor upon his back, past ever getting up again; there being now little for him to do, and he waits at Court attending to speak to the King as others do: which I pray God may prove of good effects, for it is feared it will be the same with my Lord Treasurer shortly. But strange to hear how my Lord Ashley, by my Lord Bristol’s means (he being brought over to the Catholique party against the Bishopps, whom he hates to the death, and publicly rails against them; not that he is become a Catholique, but merely opposes the Bishopps; and yet, for aught I hear, the Bishopp of London keeps as great with the King as ever) is got into favour, so much that, being a man of great business and yet of pleasure, and drolling too, he, it is thought, will be made Lord Treasurer upon the death or removal of the good old man.
My Lord Albemarle, I hear, do bear through and bustle among them, and will not be removed from the King’s good opinion and favour, though none of the Cabinett; but yet he is envied enough.
It is made very doubtful whether the King do not intend the making of the Duke of Monmouth legitimate; but surely the Commons of England will never do it, nor the Duke of York suffer it, whose lady, I am told, is very troublesome to him by her jealousy. But it is wonderful that Sir Charles Barkeley should be so great still, not with the King, but Duke also; who did so stiffly swear that he had lain with her. And another one Armour that he rode before her on horseback in Holland I think, and she rid with her hand upon his ——.
No care is observed to be taken of the main chance, either for maintaining of trade or opposing of factions, which, God knows, are ready to break out, if any of them (which God forbid!) should dare to begin; the King and every man about him minding so much their pleasures or profits.
My Lord Hinchingbroke, I am told, hath had a mischance to kill his boy by his birding-piece going off as he was a-fowling. The gun was charged with small shot, and hit the boy in the face and about the temples, and he lived four days.
In Scotland, it seems, for all the newes-books tell us every week that they are all so quiett, and everything in the Church settled, the old women had like to have killed, the other day, the Bishop of Galloway, and not half the Churches of the whole kingdom conform.
Strange were the effects of the late thunder and lightning about a week since at Northampton, coming with great rain, which caused extraordinary floods in a few hours, bearing away bridges, drowning horses, men, and cattle. Two men passing over a bridge on horseback, the arches before and behind them were borne away, and that left which they were upon: but, however, one of the horses fell over, and was drowned. Stacks of faggots carried as high as a steeple, and other dreadful things; which Sir Thomas Crew showed me letters to him about from Mr. Freemantle and others, that it is very true.
The Portugalls have choused us, it seems, in the Island of Bombay, in the East Indys; for after a great charge of our fleets being sent thither with full commission from the King of Portugall to receive it, the Governour by some pretence or other will not deliver it to Sir Abraham Shipman, sent from the King, nor to my Lord of Marlborough; which the King takes highly ill, and I fear our Queen will fare the worse for it.
The Dutch decay there exceedingly, it being believed that their people will revolt from them there, and they forced to give over their trade. This is talked of among us, but how true I understand not.
Sir Thomas showed me his picture and Sir Anthony Vandike’s, in crayon in little, done exceedingly well.
Having thus freely talked with him, and of many more things, I took leave, and by coach to St. James’s, and there told Mr. Coventry what I had done with my Lord with great satisfaction, and so well pleased home, where I found it almost night, and my wife and the dancing-master alone above, not dancing but talking. Now so deadly full of jealousy I am that my heart and head did so cast about and fret that I could not do any business possibly, but went out to my office, and anon late home again and ready to chide at every thing, and then suddenly to bed and could hardly sleep, yet durst not say any thing, but was forced to say that I had bad news from the Duke concerning Tom Hater as an excuse to my wife, who by my folly has too much opportunity given her with the man, who is a pretty neat black man, but married. But it is a deadly folly and plague that I bring upon myself to be so jealous and by giving myself such an occasion more than my wife desired of giving her another month’s dancing. Which however shall be ended as soon as I can possibly. But I am ashamed to think what a course I did take by lying to see whether my wife did wear drawers to-day as she used to do, and other things to raise my suspicion of her, but I found no true cause of doing it.

a park keeper told me
what the earth is

cockle shells and weather
dust and dead beds

a face for
the bountiful world

which we must of necessity
break in pieces

with words and blows
and a degree of madness

but what is the unhappiness in that
if the light is good

surely the land will never suffer
it is so great still

and every bird so quiet
like a hole the rain drowned

this talk I understand in crayon
dancing but deadly full

I hide in sleep
a folly that I bring myself
to see as true


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 15 May 1663.

So spring turns slowly into summer.
Each day, birds busy in the grass—
a rust-colored one, another dun
brown; and in the hedge, a circle
of crows. The small one pulls up
a worm, eats part of it
then takes off, a serif dangling
from its beak. Surely, a nest
somewhere in the fork of a tree.

*

Looking through shopping bags
stashed in the closet, she doesn’t
quite recall how it was she wound up
with two or more of the same item:
cotton shirts, jeans, tins of coffee,
makeup kits. Packs of soap, shampoo,
cans of vienna sausages. But
they do help to fill up care
packages very quickly.

“Time and fear devour us…” ~ D. Bonta

You ask what I’ve provisioned
for those I might leave behind—

It’s hard to say. I never was very good
at numbers. But today we went to the store

where there was a dollar sale on champagne
mangos. I bought four in various stages

of ripening. One, I washed, sliced, and scored
with a criss-cross diamond pattern, to share

with my youngest daughter at breakfast. The other
looks ready to eat tomorrow. The last two, tinged

with faint green closest to where they were broken
from the branch, I placed to further sweeten

in the plastic bin where the rice is kept:
and in a few more days, they will be golden.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Besieged.

Up betimes and put up some things to send to Brampton. Then abroad to the Temple, and up and down about business, and met Mr. Moore; and with him to an alehouse in Holborn; where in discourse he told me that he fears the King will be tempted to endeavour the setting the Crown upon the little Duke, which may cause troubles; which God forbid, unless it be his due! He told me my Lord do begin to settle to business again, which I am glad of, for he must not sit out, now he has done his own business by getting his estate settled, and that the King did send for him the other day to my Lady Castlemaine’s, to play at cards, where he lost 50l.; for which I am sorry, though he says my Lord was pleased at it, and said he would be glad at any time to lose 50l. for the King to send for him to play, which I do not so well like.
Thence home, and after dinner to the office, where we sat till night, and then made up my papers and letters by the post, and so home to dance with Pembleton.
This day we received a baskett from my sister Pall, made by her of paper, which hath a great deal of labour in it for country innocent work.
After supper to bed, and going to bed received a letter from Mr. Coventry desiring my coming to him to-morrow morning, which troubled me to think what the business should be, fearing it must be some bad news in Tom Hater’s business.

time and fear devour us

which God is glad now
to play at cards

like a night made of paper
I bled ink


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 14 May 1663. (Erased while listening to the Gorguts EP
Pleiades’ Dust, about the Mongol destruction of the House of Wisdom during the 1258 Siege of Baghdad).

Shooter (slang): a small amount (called a shot) of liquor

In the summers, our house in the elbow
of the L that makes the alley, fills

with aunts and uncles from the capital—
distant cousins whose names I can never

get straight until two weeks later
or when they are about to leave.

While they’re there our home’s turned
upside down— mats and mattresses

spread on the living room floor,
constant pounding on bathroom doors.

Two card tables shore up each end
of the dining table, and the kitchen’s

awash in dishes. Mother grumbles
at how cheap they are— how they

can afford memberships at country clubs,
yet would rather stay with us so they won’t

have to pay for meals and lodging. I’m eleven,
but already I’ve had my period. Mother dresses me

in a caftan she sewed herself. I think it looks
like a giant pillowcase. I envy the ease with which

the nephews run around in khaki shorts and jeans.
They smell of suntan lotion and know how to swim.

I’m prone to headaches and acne, and when they’re mean
they call me “Tita Moon Base”— as if my brown face

were lunar, pockmarked with stations for their
unwelcome landing. One afternoon when I come to her

in tears, abruptly, she stops what she’s doing. Wiping
her hands on a dish towel, she leans toward me,

conspiratorial: Why don’t we leave them all for a while
and go to the movies?
We slip out without telling.

I can’t remember what film we watch; perhaps,
a comedy. And before we go in she buys a box

of chocolate. Each piece, foil-wrapped, liqueur-
filled, is shaped like a little bottle. We peel

and eat them one by one, and laugh through the show.
When we emerge from the theatre, evening has fallen.

 

In response to Via Negativa: After jousting.

Lay till 6 o’clock and then up, and after a little talk and mirth, he went away, and I to my office, where busy all the morning, and at noon home to dinner, and after dinner Pembleton came and I practised. But, Lord! to see how my wife will not be thought to need telling by me or Ashwell, and yet will plead that she has learnt but a month, which causes many short fallings out between us. So to my office, whither one-eyed Cooper came to see me, and I made him to show me the use of platts, and to understand the lines, and how to find how lands bear, &c., to my great content.
Then came Mr. Barrow, storekeeper of Chatham, who tells me many things, how basely Sir W. Batten has carried himself to him, and in all things else like a passionate dotard, to the King’s great wrong. God mend all, for I am sure we are but in an ill condition in the Navy, however the King is served in other places.
Home to supper, to cards, and to bed.

clock-talk is how
I ought to learn

but one-eyed
I understand lines

and how to like
a great wrong card


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 13 May 1663.

The older men traded stories
of wars they lived through:

how they had little to eat
but rice; and when that ran out,

salt and bananas, even the peel.
They fashioned slings and sat

on their haunches deep in the grass,
waiting for frogs, for quail, any

oily morsel that touched a talon
to the soil. The generation

immediately after them told of how
their children came of age turning

bottles to bombs, or braving
the smoke and water cannons

in the streets. Some children
were conceived during mercy

visits in jail cells. Some friends
were captured, tortured,

and killed. Past the curfew hour,
some raided the arsenal at the military

school. The rest of us moved through
the world, careful to avert our eyes.

Careful not to reveal how we listened
still to any news from underground.

Up between four and five, and after dressing myself then to my office to prepare business against the afternoon, where all the morning, and dined at noon at home, where a little angry with my wife for minding nothing now but the dancing-master, having him come twice a day, which is a folly.
Again, to my office. We sat till late, our chief business being the reconciling the business of the pieces of eight mentioned yesterday before the Duke of York, wherein I have got the day, and they are all brought over to what I said, of which I am proud.
Late writing letters, and so home to supper and to bed. Here I found Creed staying for me, and so after supper I staid him all night and lay with me, our great discourse being the folly of our two doting knights, of which I am ashamed.

four in the morning
reconciling the pieces
of what I said

I am proud
our discourse the folly
of two knights


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 12 May 1663.