Up, and by coach called upon Mr. Phillips, and after a little talk with him away to my Lord Sandwich’s, but he being gone abroad, I staid a little and talked with Mr. Howe, and so to Westminster in term time, and there met Mr. Pierce, who told me largely how the King still do doat upon his women, even beyond all shame; and that the good Queen will of herself stop before she goes sometimes into her dressing-room, till she knows whether the King be there, for fear he should be, as she hath sometimes taken him, with Mrs. Stewart.
And that some of the best parts of the Queen’s joynture are, contrary to faith, and against the opinion of my Lord Treasurer and his Council, bestowed or rented, I know not how, to my Lord Fitz-Harding and Mrs. Stewart, and others of that crew.
That the King do doat infinitely upon the Duke of Monmouth, apparently as one that he intends to have succeed him. God knows what will be the end of it!
After he was gone I went and talked with Mrs. Lane about persuading her to Hawly, and think she will come on, which I wish were done, and so to Mr. Howlett and his wife, and talked about the same, and they are mightily for it, and I bid them promote it, for I think it will be for both their goods and my content. But I was much pleased to look upon their pretty daughter, which is grown a pretty mayd, and will make a fine modest woman.
Thence to the ‘Change by coach, and after some business done, home to dinner, and thence to Guildhall, thinking to have heard some pleading, but there were no Courts, and so to Cade’s, the stationer, and there did look upon some pictures which he promised to give me the buying of, but I found he would have played the Jacke with me, but at last he did proffer me what I expected, and I have laid aside 10l. or 12l. worth, and will think of it, but I am loth to lay out so much money upon them.
So home a little vexed in my mind to think how to-day I was forced to compliment W. Howe and admit myself to an equality with Mr. Moore, which is come to challenge in his discourse with me, but I will admit it no more, but let me stand or fall, I will show myself as strange to them as my Lord do himself to me.
After at the office till 9 o’clock, I home in fear of some pain by taking cold, and so to supper and to bed.

lips after a sandwich beyond all shame
stop for a stew

some of the best parts of joy
are contrary to faith

O that infinite mouth
what will be the end of it

I wish for a change
there were no last supper


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 8 February 1663/64.

Black-and-white photo of the end of a park bench with a wide open space behind it and a line of trees in the distance.

Today, crossing the scrap of Clapham Common
right by the tube entrance, this unappealing piece
with scanty grass and grubby benches shat upon
by crows and pigeons, I remember again a lanky,
windswept woman and glimpse the fading shape
of brassy wings. Here is where I’d often see her,
comfortably hunkered on one of these greasy seats
or stalking towards them, all flying silver mane
and lamentable, flapping coat, happy to hang out
alone or with the old homeless guys who favoured
this draughty and neglected corner of the common,
facing the statue of Temperance and Providence
from a safe distance. I used to stare, imagining wide-
eyed and shy the fabulous mechanics of her mind.

 

The British novelist Angela Carter died 25 years ago – such mixed feelings in remembering an amazing writer who died too young, and a time when we had great hopes for post-Cold-War peace and democratisation.
Angela Carter: official website and another lovely site with new publications, events and discussion.
Statue of Temperance and Providence on Clapham Common, 1884.

When I was born I was not given
a name equivalent to “Fragrant
Blossom” or “Perfect

Fulfillment.” It took
six years before they
found me ready for a rite

of baptism. Was it because
I was sick so much, shortly
after exiting the womb?

Instead of candle
flame and holy water,
they wished to trick

the gods into believing
I was some wolf child
or changeling,

some stray that came
limping into a basket left
at the door. They called me

with strings of syllables,
sounds made by clicking
the tongue against

the roof of the mouth—
my first lullabies, shadows of
the child I should have been.

At the station, when a man
lost consciousness and fell face-
down on the moving escalator, a throng
gathered quickly at the base to pull
him to safety. A woman came through
the barrier, saying “I’m a doctor.”
The station manager activated the safety
switch and called for an ambulance.
A young man with a skateboard under
his arm rummaged in his backpack
for a gym towel to stanch the bleeding.
The emergency response team arrived
with a pallet and a gurney. All this
happened swiftly, with very few words
exchanged— only the movement of hands
and bodies wanting to save: strangers
lifting the stricken one, instead of
leaving him to possibly languish
in a pool of his own blood; there
in the middle of the city, on a grimy
platform that shuddered every now
and then as trains hurtled past.

(Lord’s day). Up and to church, and thence home, my wife being ill of those kept her bed all day, and I up and dined by her bedside, and then all the afternoon till late at night writing some letters of business to my father stating of matters to him in general of great import, and other letters to ease my mind in the week days that I have not time to think of, and so up to my wife, and with great mirth read Sir W. Davenant’s two speeches in dispraise of London and Paris, by way of reproach one to another, and so to prayers and to bed.

night letters
matter to the ink

an ant’s praise
of a roach


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 7 February 1663/64.

Three months after the election and still
I scratch my head at the incongruity
every time I learn about yet another
Filipino American who’s voted

for the current president. Some of them
are friends! former classmates! A student
reported the day after the election,
glumly, that his own parents also voted

for the sadly now incumbent. I want to shake
them by the shoulders— gently, but shake them
nonetheless— and say brother, sister, kapatid,
what’s the color of the face that looks out

at you from the mirror when you make hilamos
every morning? And did you hear that our
country of origin has been added to the list
of seven on that Muslim ban? Even if you’re

naturalized; even if you have a green
card; even if you’ve lived here most of your
adult life, dutifully sending money and an annual
Balikbayan Box back to your folks in the province,

amply furnishing that fantasy of the American Dream
with your two-car garage, your two-door refrigerator
with programmable ice dispenser, your Magic Sing and
Singtronic Karaoke Machine— one misplaced lisp

and they’ll think you’re FOB; one look at you
and they’ll ask why you’re falsely practicing
medicine or nursing and will ask for a “real”
professional; one look at you and they’ll demand

proof of your ability to teach history or English
or mathematics to their child. And is it this
that’s fueled your love for designer this
and that and everything? that fear of being

mistaken for the maid or the driver or the houseboy,
leading to a carefully curated list of expensive
desires? Ah is it still so hard to love our many
times colonized bodies, that memory of indios

stuck in the mud and muck of the fields
while the landlord rode by on horseback
or picked one of our wives or daughters
to take to the shed and bed?

Why else did we laugh and jeer
back in the day at Elizabeth Ramsey,
half black (Jamaican father) and half
Filipino (Visayan mother) as she belted

out her meanest Proud Mary on live TV?
She would have made Tina Turner proud,
but all we did was point to her ‘fro,
her full lips and dark skin,

and chant Negrita, Negrita, as if she
too was like one of those Aetas
we were always scaring our children
would come down from the mountains

to take them away if they were bad.
I have news for you, said Carlos
Bulosan during the emaciated years
of the Great American Depression—

a phrase so full of ambivalence it’s
like an Alt Fact for that poor sad time
in 1920s America when the crops—
garlic, asparagus, grapes— would all

have rotted in the fields or on the vine
were it not for cheap stoop labor—
migrant labor— provided by some of our
forefathers up and down the California

coast. I have news for you, and it is that
I have discovered it is a crime to be
a Filipino in America today.
Then
and now, Carlos; then and now—

unless we join with our other sisters
and brothers protesting in the streets,
refusing to be written off, fucked over,
or otherwise relegated to history.

Up, and to the office, where we sat all the morning, and so at noon to the ‘Change, where I met Mr. Coventry, the first time I ever saw him there, and after a little talke with him and other merchants, I up and down about several businesses, and so home, whither came one Father Fogourdy, an Irish priest, of my wife’s and her mother’s acquaintance in France, a sober, discreet person, but one that I would not have converse with my wife for fear of meddling with her religion, but I like the man well. Thence with my wife abroad, and left her at Tom’s, while I abroad about several businesses and so back to her, myself being vexed to find at my first coming Tom abroad, and all his books, papers, and bills loose upon the open table in the parlour, and he abroad, which I ranted at him for when he came in. Then by coach home, calling at my cozen Scott’s, who (she) lies dying, they say, upon a miscarriage. My wife could not be admitted to see her, nor anybody. At home to the office late writing letters, and then home to supper and to bed. Father Fogourdy confirms to me the newes that for certain there is peace between the Pope and King of France.

we vent with chants

our religion like the road
is an open table
for dying on

a body confirms
a certain peace


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 6 February 1663/64.

Up, and down by water, a brave morning, to Woolwich, and there spent an houre or two to good purpose, and so walked to Greenwich and thence to Deptford, where I found (with Sir W. Batten upon a survey) Sir J. Minnes, Sir W. Pen, and my Lady Batten come down and going to dinner. I dined with them, and so after dinner by water home, all the way going and coming reading “Faber Fortunae,” which I can never read too often. At home a while with my wife, and so to my office, where till 8 o’clock, and then home to look over some Brampton papers, and my uncle’s accounts as Generall-Receiver of the County for 1647 of our monthly assessment, which, contrary to my expectation, I found in such good order and so, thoroughly that I did not expect, nor could have thought, and that being done, having seen discharges for every farthing of money he received, I went to bed late with great quiett.

I walk to survey the water
which I can never read

at home with my wife and clock
I count my money


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 5 February 1663/64.

Who comes from the southeast
carrying quiet threats?

Who comes from the north
wielding a stone of compassion?

Where I stand in the yard
staking a persimmon sapling,

a lash of wind feels like
the tip of an oncoming army.

Who comes from the east
flapping broad, inky wings?

I hurry without showing my hurry
into the labyrinth of my nest.

My dearest treasure hides as one
crystal in a handful of salt.

Night after night, resisting
with bites of food, a few

more piles of work
then shot glasses filled

with tinctures that mimic
the bracing heart of a wood—

Everything’s still shrouded
with the chill of winter,

and sleep is the angel
that wants to guide our feet

toward the tomb. But we won’t
practice those songs yet.

We’ll waltz away at dawn, hungry
for strong black coffee and bread.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Bookworm.