Up and to my office, where all the morning doing business, and at noon home to dinner, and then up to remove my chest and clothes up stairs to my new wardrobe, that I may have all my things above where I lie, and so by coach abroad with my wife, leaving her at my Lord’s till I went to the Tangier Committee, where very good discourse concerning the Articles of peace to be continued with Guyland, and thence took up my wife, and with her to her tailor’s, and then to the Exchange and to several places, and so home and to my office, where doing some business, and then home to supper and to bed.

up the morning stairs
to war with my wife
the tang of peace


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 16 October 1663.

It takes numerous forms,
not just some flat expanse

where the moon looks at itself
from time to time: for instance,

a liter bottle of soda, a plastic tub
that used to hold a gallon of ice cream;

a tin drum in the yard, mouth open
to the rain gutter. They say hair

washed in this water is softer.
That a body sudsed in rain remembers

what it used to be before hurt.
Salt pours itself into a glass.

Sugar does the same. Water’s impervious
to their charms and keeps its own

counsel. Once, in a far-flung town,
a singer asked where she could get a sip

of water to cool her parched throat
before a performance; they led her

to a bathroom. I don’t know what
happened. I don’t know if the song

held more of the need to be quenched or if,
obedient, it took the shape of that moment.

Up, I bless God being now in pretty good condition, but cannot come to make natural stools yet; and going to enjoy my wife this morning, I had a very great pain in the end of my yard when my yard was stiff, as if I strained some nerve or vein, which was great pain to me.
So up and to the office, where we sat all the morning, and at noon dined at home, my head full of business, and after stepping abroad to buy a thing or two, compasses and snuffers for my wife, I returned to my office and there mighty busy till it was late, and so home well contented with the business that I had done this afternoon, and so to supper and to bed.

I cannot make natural
as if I rain

my head full of stepping thin
compasses of ice


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

Up and to my office, where all the morning, and part of it Sir J. Minnes spent, as he do every thing else, like a fool, reading the Anatomy of the body to me, but so sillily as to the making of me understand any thing that I was weary of him, and so I toward the ‘Change and met with Mr. Grant, and he and I to the Coffee-house, where I understand by him that Sir W. Petty and his vessel are coming, and the King intends to go to Portsmouth to meet it. Thence home and after dinner my wife and I, by Mr. Rawlinson’s conduct, to the Jewish Synagogue: where the men and boys in their vayles, and the women behind a lattice out of sight; and some things stand up, which I believe is their Law, in a press to which all coming in do bow; and at the putting on their vayles do say something, to which others that hear him do cry Amen, and the party do kiss his vayle. Their service all in a singing way, and in Hebrew. And anon their Laws that they take out of the press are carried by several men, four or five several burthens in all, and they do relieve one another; and whether it is that every one desires to have the carrying of it, I cannot tell, thus they carried it round about the room while such a service is singing. And in the end they had a prayer for the King, which they pronounced his name in Portugall; but the prayer, like the rest, in Hebrew. But, Lord! to see the disorder, laughing, sporting, and no attention, but confusion in all their service, more like brutes than people knowing the true God, would make a man forswear ever seeing them more and indeed I never did see so much, or could have imagined there had been any religion in the whole world so absurdly performed as this. Away thence with my mind strongly disturbed with them, by coach and set down my wife in Westminster Hall, and I to White Hall, and there the Tangier Committee met, but the Duke and the Africa Committee meeting in our room, Sir G. Carteret; Sir W. Compton, Mr. Coventry, Sir W. Rider, Cuttance and myself met in another room, with chairs set in form but no table, and there we had very fine discourses of the business of the fitness to keep Sally, and also of the terms of our King’s paying the Portugees that deserted their house at Tangier, which did much please me, and so to fetch my wife, and so to the New Exchange about her things, and called at Thomas Pepys the turner’s and bought something there, and so home to supper and to bed, after I had been a good while with Sir W. Pen, railing and speaking freely our minds against Sir W. Batten and Sir J. Minnes, but no more than the folly of one and the knavery of the other do deserve.

all the anatomy of the body out of sight
to the kiss the press the every
desire singing

but like people knowing the true God
we imagine a whole world absurdly set down
in our room


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 14 October 1663.

After the storm we threw spoiled food away then bought bread and milk,
a tray of eggs, their shells flecked with brown and copper—

A week later at the fair, under a deep blue sky, an artisan
showed us how he beat a sheet into an airy bangle of copper—

And tonight we looked up at the floodlit moon
to marvel at its largeness, its closeness, its copper—

Then we read how the Great Barrier Reef looks from space, bleached
with paleness from its dying; no more algae blooming coral—

While in the apiary, the wax moth and hive beetle inch closer.
Most bees are gone but the halls are still dusted with copper—

We’re here, my love, but only tenuously. I weep sometimes at the thought
of all we can’t control; how the very air burnishes the heart’s copper.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

And so rose in the morning in perfect good ease, but only strain I put myself to shit, more than I needed. But continued all the morning well, and in the afternoon had a natural easily and dry stoole, the first I have had these five days or six, for which God be praised, and so am likely to continue well, observing for the time to come when any of this pain comes again
1. To begin to keep myself as warm as I can.
2. Strain as little as ever I can backwards, remembering that my pain will come by and by, though in the very straining I do not feel it.
3. Either by physic forward or by clyster backward or both ways to get an easy and plentiful going to stool and breaking of wind.
4. To begin to suspect my health immediately when I begin to become costive and bound, and by all means to keep my body loose, and that to obtain presently after I find myself going the contrary.
This morning at the office, and at noon with Creed to the Exchange, where much business, but, Lord! how my heart, though I know not reason for it, began to doubt myself, after I saw Stint, Field’s one-eyed solicitor, though I know not any thing that they are doing, or that they endeavour any thing further against us in the business till the terme.
Home, and Creed with me to dinner, and after dinner John Cole, my old friend, came to see and speak with me about a friend. I find him ingenious, but more and more discern his city pedantry; but however, I will endeavour to have his company now and then, for that he knows much of the temper of the City, and is able to acquaint therein as much as most young men, being of large acquaintance, and himself, I think, somewhat unsatisfied with the present state of things at Court and in the Church.
Then to the office, and there busy till late, and so home to my wife, with some ease and pleasure that I hope to be able to follow my business again, which by God’s leave I am resolved to return to with more and more eagerness. I find at Court, that either the King is doubtfull of some disturbance, or else would seem so (and I have reason to hope it is no worse), by his commanding all commanders of castles, &c., to repair to their charges; and mustering the Guards the other day himself, where he found reason to dislike their condition to my Lord Gerard, finding so many absent men, or dead pays.
My Lady Castlemaine, I hear, is in as great favour as ever, and the King supped with her the very first night he came from Bath.
And last night and the night before supped with her; when there being a chine of beef to roast, and the tide rising into their kitchen that it could not be roasted there, and the cook telling her of it, she answered, “Zounds! she must set the house on fire but it should be roasted!” So it was carried to Mrs. Sarah’s husband’s, and there it was roasted.
So home to supper and to bed, being mightily pleased with all my house and my red chamber, where my wife and I intend constantly to lie, and the having of our dressing room and mayds close by us without any interfering or trouble.

will I keep my body
after I find myself

I know no reason for my one-eyed
solicitor and his pedantry

will I be present and able
to follow my business

like the night tide rising
into the kitchen


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 13 October 1663.

The woman begs to cover her husband’s body
with a blanket, but the police refuse—

Their daughter sits on the curb, wailing into her hands.
Someone will try to pull her away, say Shh; she will refuse.

A train whistle cuts through the rain. Leaves quiver and mix
with shadows in the alley— the only witnesses that won’t refuse.

Everyone else averts their eyes: the duck egg vendor, the drunk,
men out for a smoke; late night owls at the bar. All refuse.

Mid-October, near dawn. The pedicabs ghost away. Tinny rattle,
gravel spray. How many deaths as of today? The mind wants to refuse

these horrors. The MO’s like this: two masked men on a motorbike ride
up to their target. Shots ring out. Every day, bodies pile up like refuse.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

mediums; the ones who never deign to tell us anything
about that future whose smell we already know.
Always, the women get their hands dirty” by Luisa Igloria

The wind changes direction, and we smell
the future, just a hint of iron
underneath the scent of oyster
beds at low tide.

I think of ancient ancestors
who could forecast the week’s weather
based on the wanderings
of each cloud. But I consult
the oracles through my computer.

My oracles will be silenced
tonight. The wind howls
around my closed hurricane shutters.
I can smell the distant miseries
that this storm has folded
into itself, the despair that threatens
to fill the house with sorrow.
I add extra spices to the pot of stew,
some peppers dried during a distant harvest.

Although I still have electricity, I light
the candles and turn off
every switch. I fill the lamps with oil.
I could live forever in this light
that hides the dust intent on colonizing
every surface.

I give the stew one last stir and tuck
towels at every entrance. I rock
in the chair carved long ago for a pregnant
bride. I open the antique
prayer book and let the ancient rhythms
cast their spell.

Up (though slept well) and made some water in the morning [as] I used to do, and a little pain returned to me, and some fears, but being forced to go to the Duke at St. James’s, I took coach and in my way called upon Mr. Hollyard and had his advice to take a glyster.
At St. James’s we attended the Duke all of us. And there, after my discourse, Mr. Coventry of his own accord begun to tell the Duke how he found that discourse abroad did run to his prejudice about the fees that he took, and how he sold places and other things; wherein he desired to appeal to his Highness, whether he did any thing more than what his predecessors did, and appealed to us all. So Sir G. Carteret did answer that some fees were heretofore taken, but what he knows not; only that selling of places never was nor ought to be countenanced. So Mr. Coventry very hotly answered to Sir G. Carteret, and appealed to himself whether he was not one of the first that put him upon looking after this taking of fees, and that he told him that Mr. Smith should say that he made 5000l. the first year, and he believed he made 7000l.. This Sir G. Carteret denied, and said, that if he did say so he told a lie, for he could not, nor did know, that ever he did make that profit of his place; but that he believes he might say 2500l. the first year. Mr. Coventry instanced in another thing, particularly wherein Sir G. Carteret did advise with him about the selling of the Auditor’s place of the stores, when in the beginning there was an intention of creating such an office. This he confessed, but with some lessening of the tale Mr. Coventry told, it being only for a respect to my Lord Fitz-Harding.
In fine, Mr. Coventry did put into the Duke’s hand a list of above 250 places that he did give without receiving one farthing, so much as his ordinary fees for them, upon his life and oath; and that since the Duke’s establishment of fees he had never received one token more of any man; and that in his whole life he never conditioned or discoursed of any consideration from any commanders since he came to the Navy.
And afterwards, my Lord Barkeley merrily discoursing that he wished his profit greater than it was, and that he did believe that he had got 50,000l. since he came in, Mr. Coventry did openly declare that his Lordship, or any of us, should have not only all he had got, but all that he had in the world (and yet he did not come a beggar into the Navy, nor would yet be thought to speak in any contempt of his Royall Highness’s bounty), and should have a year to consider of it too, for 25,000l..
The Duke’s answer was, that he wished we all had made more profit than he had of our places, and that we had all of us got as much as one man below stayres in the Court, which he presently named, and it was Sir George Lane! This being ended, and the list left in the Duke’s hand, we parted, and I with Sir G. Carteret, Sir J. Minnes, and Sir W. Batten by coach to the Exchange, and there a while, and so home, and whether it be the jogging, or by having my mind more employed (which I believe is a great matter) I know not, but I do now piss with much less pain and begin to be suddenly well; at least, better than I was. So home and to dinner, and thence by coach to the Old Exchange, and there cheapened some laces for my wife, and then to Mr.—— the great laceman in Cheapside, and bought one cost me 4l. more by 20s. than I intended, but when I came to see them I was resolved to buy one worth wearing with credit, and so to the New Exchange, and there put it to making, and so to my Lord’s lodgings and left my wife, and so I to the Committee of Tangier, and then late home with my wife again by coach, beginning to be very well, and yet when I came home and tried to shit, the little straining which I thought was no strain at all at the present did by and by bring me some pain for a good while.
Anon, about 8 o’clock, my wife did give me a clyster which Mr. Hollyard directed, viz., a pint of strong ale, 4 oz. of sugar, and 2 oz. of butter. It lay while I lay upon the bed above an hour, if not two, and then thinking it quite lost I rose, and by and by it began with my walking to work, and gave me three or four most excellent stools and carried away wind, put me in excellent ease, and taking my usual walnut quantity of electuary at my going into bed I had about two stools in the night and pissed well. Voided some wind.

a place is more than a predecessor
we know

selling places never ought to be
countenanced in the first place

particularly selling
a place of ore

when in the beginning the only place for life
came as a beggar into the void


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 12 October 1663.

Who’s afraid of blood? Not me,
I say to the women stuffing gut

casings with minced pork, with onions,
with congealed pork blood, with peppers,

with vinegar, with salt. Their nail beds
are dark from the work they do: muralists

of blood, they plunge whole hands into
basins of glistening meat, lifting

and pinching, packing, tamping,
twisting. They’ll hang them up to dry

then smoke them darkly— whole rosaries
herbed with fat. Roasted, the first slice

goes to the hidden gods: the ones whose thirst
we’ll carefully slake with drops of water

or wine shaken onto the ground, the ones
who speak in riddles and only through toothless

mediums; the ones who never deign to tell us anything
about that future whose smell we already know.