Up and find myself pretty well, and so to the office, and there all the morning. Rose at noon and home to dinner in my green chamber, having a good fire. Thither there came my wife’s brother and brought Mary Ashwell with him, whom we find a very likely person to please us, both for person, discourse, and other qualitys. She dined with us, and after dinner went away again, being agreed to come to us about three weeks or a month hence. My wife and I well pleased with our choice, only I pray God I may be able to maintain it.
Then came an old man from Mr. Povy, to give me some advice about his experience in the stone, which I [am] beholden to him for, and was well pleased with it, his chief remedy being Castle soap in a posset.
Then in the evening to the office, late writing letters and my Journall since Saturday, and so home to supper and to bed.

the fire brought
ash with it

as God may maintain a stone
his chief remedy

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 12 February 1662/63.

14 tinsel balls leftover in a bowl
from Christmas. A pot of mint

tea cooling on the table. Chatter
in the air like a light pull just

out of reach. Empty double shell
from cold pills taken yesterday.

Imprint of boots on melting snow.
Turmeric yarn I loop and loop

around a pair of bamboo needles.
Small dry patch of skin

on the edge of my lip,
a continent about to defect.

with lines from Luisa A. Igloria’s “Depth of field” and ending with a line from The Book of Flight by José Angel Araguz

In the evening he wants to sink into sweet dreams, featherbed of thought,
but caffeine too late keeps him awake, careening on the sled of thought.

Naked lady on the half-shell, ancient goddess, just created.
Most demi-gods were born of lust, but Venus, love, was born of thought.

She is excited and keeps interrupting you by accident.
Forgive her this froth – she has just tapped the barrelhead of thought.

Twisted into a simulacrum of a lotus blossom, you sweep
tracks of uninvited guests away, erase any tread of thought.

Augustine determined that humans have souls because our skulls are
too small to fit the things we can envision, the wingspread of thought.

At last, / there are times / when it can actually / be as simple as that.
How often you long for a return to childhood joy instead of thought!

Here, Halima reads poems – will they guide her like Hansel and Gretel?
This page is a tablecloth, words the crumbs from the dark bread of thought.

“…what kind of night
began as a cell” ~ D. Bonta

~ In memoriam, Vivencio Raymundo

Tonight, a snowfall
beginning to cover the sidewalk,
outlining the branches of the twin
Japanese maples in front.

Patches of white erasing the dark
slate of roofs, one after the other
along the avenue— until each
is as a blank waiting

to be filled. In the yard, mounded
tops of hedges— like trays of rice
cakes on platters of leaf. The radio
warns of ice on roads and bridges.

I think of Gogol’s story
about the poor clerk Akaky;
remember how, in my class
once, a student who had not

read the assignment mumbled
from the depths of his seat:
What’s the big deal? It’s only
an overcoat.
I wheeled around

in an almost rage, said
something about words and lives
meaning more than allegory.
What is it about the cold

that makes everything feel
so distant? It’s almost like
we have to light fires
in our very hands.

Niyebe: Snow [Filipino]


In response to Via Negativa: In/mates.

Took a clyster in the morning and rose in the afternoon. My wife and I dined on a pullet and I eat heartily, having eat nothing since Sunday but water gruel and posset drink, but must needs say that our new maid Mary has played her part very well in her readiness and discretion in attending me, of which I am very glad.
In the afternoon several people came to see me, my uncle Thomas, Mr. Creed, Sir J. Minnes (who has been, God knows to what end, mighty kind to me and careful of me in my sickness). At night my wife read Sir H. Vane’s tryall to me, which she began last night, and I find it a very excellent thing, worth reading, and him to have been a very wise man.
So to supper and to bed.

my wife and I dine on a heart
nothing but gruel and need

who knows what kind of night
began as a cell

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 11 February 1662/63.

Not everything can be brought
into a sphere of perfect

The father who left many times
in the night, as if each time
was the last time.

The mother who collected
her strings of beautiful
hard tears.

And you too, and you, and you,
hiding in the bathroom
under the sink

until the terrible
waves of wind
have passed.

What is your favorite
—someone asks.
There is one

which opens with a shot
of lemons on a table.
At last,

there are times
when it can actually
be as simple as that.

In the morning most of my disease, that is, itching and pimples, were gone. In the morning visited by Mr. Coventry and others, and very glad I am to see that I am so much inquired after and my sickness taken notice of as I did. I keep my bed all day and sweat again at night, by which I expect to be very well to-morrow.
This evening Sir W. Warren came himself to the door and left a letter and box for me, and went his way. His letter mentions his giving me and my wife a pair of gloves; but, opening the box, we found a pair of plain white gloves for my hand, and a fair state dish of silver, and cup, with my arms, ready cut upon them, worth, I believe, about 18l., which is a very noble present, and the best I ever had yet.
So after some contentful talk with my wife, she to bed and I to rest.

in the morning of my disease
I itch and pimple

sickness came for me in a pair
of plain white gloves

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 10 February 1662/63.

The moon is pale as buttermilk, watered
down to feed me in school. Oil-stained walls
crumble as I stuff infinity in my mouth. One
stone a year fills my body, engorges pathways
I essay every day through fetid night soil.

There is sand on the bed, hands tremble
as I carve a wedge of dirt from the fingernail —
particles that compose soul leak from a hole
that remains unvisited like the brick house
at the peripheral colony in my home town.

Birds fill my mouth, stir air in the lungs,
levitate vapour of existence that I see hover
above heads of palm trees framed
by the window – a scrap of paper, letters
scrawled like ants they stamp under their feet.

In the dark space between words I hold a torch
for my mother to examine blue toenails,
black calluses, whorls that once mesmerised –
pathways she consulted to map a horoscope
now a poem unwriting itself on the paper.

The book is on the floor face down, arms
splayed, pages like clumps of hair tugged.
My spine broke, among other body parts
as I flung from the chair — I have known
nothing of anatomy, only of distant stars.

The title of the poem is borrowed from Rohith Vemula’s suicide note. The poem is a response to his tragic death.

You can read the full text of his suicide note in The Indian Express. For more about Rohith Vemula and his death, see the Wikipedia.

Kissing-kissing, she said; pah!
What will it get you? Ruin.
She wasn’t the first
to warn of such perils.
Another asked, What difference
is there between a mouth
and a snail?
I shrugged,
thinking of other things:
the changeling moon, the eyes
on the wings of a moth
tuned to whatever strobe
light rudders the dark.

Could not rise and go to the Duke, as I should have done with the rest, but keep my bed and by the Apothecary’s advice, Mr. Battersby, I am to sweat soundly, and that will carry all this matter away which nature would of itself eject, but they will assist nature, it being some disorder given the blood, but by what I know not, unless it be by my late quantitys of Dantzic-girkins that I have eaten.
In the evening came Sir J. Minnes and Sir W. Batten to see me, and Sir J. Minnes advises me to the same thing, but would not have me take anything from the apothecary, but from him, his Venice treacle being better than the others, which I did consent to and did anon take and fell into a great sweat, and about 10 or 11 o’clock came out of it and shifted myself, and slept pretty well alone, my wife lying in the red chamber above.

a pot
to carry away the blood
evening in Venice

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 9 February 1662/63.