Up, after much pleasant discourse with my wife, and to the office, where we sat all the morning, and did much business, and some much to my content by prevailing against Sir W. Batten for the King’s profit. At noon home to dinner, my wife and I hand to fist to a very fine pig. This noon Mr. Falconer came and visited my wife, and brought her a present, a silver state-cup and cover, value about 3l. or 4l., for the courtesy I did him the other day. He did not stay dinner with me. I am almost sorry for this present, because I would have reserved him for a place to go in summer a-visiting at Woolwich with my wife.
After dinner my wife and I up to her closet, and saw a new parcel of fine shells of her brother’s giving; and then to the office, where till 11 at night and then home after I had writ an angry letter to my father upon the letter my Cosen Roger showed me yesterday. So home and to bed, my mind disturbed about the letter I am forced to write tonight to my father, it being very severe; but it is convenient I should do it.

we prevail against the profit fist
a fine pig served with fine fat
how?

disturbed
about the letter I am forced to write


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 11 February 1663/64.

Dear father, here I am now in the belly
of the beast you dreamed of so much
when I was young, though differently—
You used to tell of the stark white
beauty of trees in Michigan, the bounty
of apples that burdened orchards
in the gold-tipped months before—
so much fallen on the grass they felt
a luxury to trample, and therefore wrong.
Here, you said, everyone has a chance
to hammer out the measure of a dream.
Here, you said, everyone could grow wealth
from mere foam. But you were a traveler
passing through; and did not live long enough
to see how those like us might have bread
and rations of cheese handed out in welfare
lines; coupons for cuts of meat no one else
but our kind would dare to eat— neck bones,
tail bones for broth, ends we cunningly fashion
into sustenance. Our industry is legendary,
father. They give us one mop, one pail, one
building to strip of grime in the wormwood
hours of neither night or day. We are ghost
hands that bring the hot food on a tray
and clean the diner tables after everyone
else has gone away. At dawn we snap on
safety belts and climb the scaffold
to gird beams of steel that otherwise
might buckle in the wind. They don’t
really speak to us, father; or care
for our tongue. Our same silences call
to others of our kind. Here I married,
and watched child after child come to us
like a tumult of water in our cupped,
cracked hands, as silken flowers or doves
might begin— in a ripple of mauve
and an incandescent longing, the kind
with which we fill whole wardrobes.
The kind I might have first felt long ago,
herding goats; braced against the wind,
tracking a hairline path through the hills.

Up, and by coach to my Lord Sandwich, to his new house, a fine house, but deadly dear, in Lincoln’s Inne Fields, where I found and spoke a little to him. He is high and strange still, but did ask me how my wife did, and at parting remembered him to his cozen, which I thought was pretty well, being willing to flatter myself that in time he will be well again.
Thence home straight and busy all the forenoon, and at noon with Mr. Bland to Mr. Povy’s, but he being at dinner and full of company we retreated and went into Fleet Street to a friend of his, and after a long stay, he telling me the long and most perplexed story of Coronell and Bushell’s business of sugars, wherein Parke and Green and Mr. Bland and 40 more have been so concerned about the King of Portugal’s duties, wherein every party has laboured to cheat another, a most pleasant and profitable story to hear, and in the close made me understand Mr. Maes’ business better than I did before. By and by dinner came, and after dinner and good discourse that and such as I was willing for improvement sake to hear, I went away too to White Hall to a Committee of Tangier, where I took occasion to demand of Creed whether he had received my letter, and he told me yes, and that he would answer it, which makes me much wonder what he means to do with me, but I will be even with him before I have done, let him make as light of it as he will.
Thence to the Temple, where my cozen Roger Pepys did show me a letter my Father wrote to him last Terme to shew me, proposing such things about Sturtlow and a portion for Pall, and I know not what, that vexes me to see him plotting how to put me to trouble and charge, and not thinking to pay our debts and legacys, but I will write him a letter will persuade him to be wiser.
So home, and finding my wife abroad (after her coming home from being with my aunt Wight to-day to buy Lent provisions) gone with Will to my brother’s, I followed them by coach, but found them not, for they were newly gone home from thence, which troubled me. I to Sir Robert Bernard’s chamber, and there did surrender my reversion in Brampton lands to the use of my will, which I was glad to have done, my will being now good in all parts. Thence homewards, calling a little at the Coffee– house, where a little merry discourse, and so home, where I found my wife, who says she went to her father’s to be satisfied about her brother, who I found at my house with her. He is going this next tide with his wife into Holland to seek his fortune. He had taken his leave of us this morning. I did give my wife 10s. to give him, and a coat that I had by me, a close-bodied light-coloured cloth coat, with a gold edgeing in each seam, that was the lace of my wife’s best pettycoat that she had when I married her. I staid not there, but to my office, where Stanes the glazier was with me till to at night making up his contract, and, poor man, I made him almost mad through a mistake of mine, but did afterwards reconcile all, for I would not have the man that labours to serve the King so cheap above others suffer too much.
He gone I did a little business more, and so home to supper and to bed, being now pretty well again, the weather being warm. My pain do leave me without coming to any great excesse, but my cold that I had got I suppose was not very great, it being only the leaving of my wastecoat unbuttoned one morning.

high and strange we eat
the most perplexed sugars

such as white light or road provisions
a new version of coffee

or this gold edge of the ice
where others suffer


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 10 February 1663/64.

View on Vimeo.

Did you know that some people use “snowflake” as an insult? Apparently being unique and sensitive—i.e. being human—has no place in Trumpland.

Up until now, my attempts at videohaiku have mostly consisted of single, long shots followed by the text, in imitation of the stereotypical composition process: contemplation leading to an ah-ha moment. The much more popular approach is to make a video with three shots in imitation of the three lines into which haiku tend to be arranged (outside of Japan, where they’re traditionally written in a single line). But it occurred to me during a bout of insomnia this morning that two shots would better represent the grammatical structure of a haiku, which is nearly always broken by some sort of pause (often represented by a dash or colon in English). The interplay between this two-part grammatical structure and the three lines/units of morae is essential to the rhythmic effect of haiku.

Both the shots here were filmed with an iPhone 5S.

Doors to abandoned houses
swing on hinges.

Scraps of washing still hang
on the line.

The pattern on this curtain
is native to this region—

Yellow and vermillion braids,
tiny knots at intervals.

Crossed threads in one corner
mean some ceremony like a wedding.

Do not defile the air soaked
with moonlight and their marked

absence with useless questions,
with remonstrance, with lies.

Up and to the office, where sat all the morning. At noon by coach with Mr. Coventry to the ‘Change, where busy with several people. Great talke of the Dutch proclaiming themselves in India, Lords of the Southern Seas, and deny traffick there to all ships but their owne, upon pain of confiscation; which makes our merchants mad. Great doubt of two ships of ours, the “Greyhound” and another, very rich, coming from the Streights, for fear of the Turkes. Matters are made up between the Pope and the King of France; so that now all the doubt is, what the French will do with their armies.
Thence home, and there found Captain Grove in mourning for his wife, and Hawly, and they dined with me. After dinner, and Grove gone, Hawly and I talked of his mistress, Mrs. Lane, and I seriously advising him and inquiring his condition, and do believe that I shall bring them together.
By and by comes Mr. Moore, with whom much good discourse of my Lord, and among other things told me that my Lord is mightily altered, that is, grown very high and stately, and do not admit of any to come into his chamber to him, as heretofore, and that I must not think much of his strangeness to me, for it was the same he do to every body, and that he would not have me be solicitous in the matter, but keep off and give him now and then a visit and no more, for he says he himself do not go to him now a days but when he sends for him, nor then do not stay for him if he be not there at the hour appointed, for, says he, I do find that I can stand upon my own legs and I will not by any over submission make myself cheap to any body and contemptible, which was the doctrine of the world that I lacked most, and shall follow it. I discoursed with him about my money that my Lord hath, and the 1000l. that I stand bound with him in, to my cozen Thomas Pepys, in both which I will get myself at liberty as soon as I can; for I do not like his being angry and in debt both together to me; and besides, I do not perceive he looks after paying his debts, but runs farther and farther in.
He being gone, my wife and I did walk an houre or two above in our chamber, seriously talking of businesses. I told her my Lord owed me 700l., and shewed her the bond, and how I intended to carry myself to my Lord. She and I did cast about how to get Captain Grove for my sister, in which we are mighty earnest at present, and I think it would be a good match, and will endeavour it. So to my office a while, then home to supper and to bed.

I traffic in doubt
an altered state that I must not visit

but my own body was
the world I lacked most

like a debt run
farther and farther up


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 9 February 1663/64.

Do you want me to tell
you a story that resists
interpretation but not feeling?

Last night a hard frost
descended on the hills.
The farmers rose

in the morning
and in their hands,
all the beautiful,

purple-rimmed cabbages
felt like skulls slowly
softening into rot.

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.