You go out and sit in the crucible
that isn’t dark yet but precedes it,

where the bee whirs suspended
in a white thread of its own making.

You think of how maybe it’s possible
to turn back the small waves of brooding

that touched everything all morning,
how with effort you might find

some footing as this vehicle lurches
ever onward through something

difficult called the future.
And while it’s true we’re creatures

of appetite, never completely appeased,
the sweetgum continues to drop

its everlasting arsenal of brittle
brown pods— they can puncture your skin,

send a sepsis raging through the veins
and into your brain or heart. What

will you do then when you’re truly
paralyzed, unable to hoist your voice

or a hand to signal in the air? Better
to learn how the smallest stones divide

the onrushing current; how the eddies swell
with sorrows that break then eventually recede.

Up very betimes and to my office, and there read over some papers against a meeting by and by at this office of Mr. Povy, Sir W. Rider, Creed, and Vernaty, and Mr. Gauden about my Lord Peterborough’s accounts for Tangier, wherein we proceeded a good way; but, Lord! to see how ridiculous Mr. Povy is in all he says or do; like a man not more fit for to be in such employments as he is, and particularly that of Treasurer (paying many and very great sums without the least written order) as he is to be King of England, and seems but this day, after much discourse of mine, to be sensible of that part of his folly, besides a great deal more in other things. This morning in discourse Sir W. Rider [said], that he hath kept a journals of his life for almost these forty years, even to this day and still do, which pleases me mightily.
That being done Sir J. Minnes and I sat all the morning, and then I to the ‘Change, and there got away by pretence of business with my uncle Wight to put off Creed, whom I had invited to dinner, and so home, and there found Madam Turner, her daughter The., Joyce Norton, my father and Mr. Honywood, and by and by come my uncle Wight and aunt. This being my solemn feast for my cutting of the stone, it being now, blessed be God! this day six years since the time; and I bless God I do in all respects find myself free from that disease or any signs of it, more than that upon the least cold I continue to have pain in making water, by gathering of wind and growing costive, till which be removed I am at no ease, but without that I am very well. One evil more I have, which is that upon the least squeeze almost my cods begin to swell and come to great pain, which is very strange and troublesome to me, though upon the speedy applying of a poultice it goes down again, and in two days I am well again.
Dinner not being presently ready I spent some time myself and shewed them a map of Tangier left this morning at my house by Creed, cut by our order, the Commissioners, and drawn by Jonas Moore, which is very pleasant, and I purpose to have it finely set out and hung up.
Mrs. Hunt coming to see my wife by chance dined here with us.
After dinner Sir W. Batten sent to speak with me, and told me that he had proffered our bill today in the House, and that it was read without any dissenters, and he fears not but will pass very well, which I shall be glad of. He told me also how Sir [Richard] Temple hath spoke very discontentfull words in the House about the Tryennial Bill; but it hath been read the second time to-day, and committed; and, he believes, will go on without more ado, though there are many in the House are displeased at it, though they dare not say much. But above all expectation, Mr. Prin is the man against it, comparing it to the idoll whose head was of gold, and his body and legs and feet of different metal. So this Bill had several degrees of calling of Parliaments, in case the King, and then the Council, and then the Lord Chancellor, and then the Sheriffes, should fail to do it.
He tells me also, how, upon occasion of some ‘prentices being put in the pillory to-day for beating of their masters, or some such like thing, in Cheapside, a company of ‘prentices came and rescued them, and pulled down the pillory; and they being set up again, did the like again. So that the Lord Mayor and Major Generall Browne was fain to come and stay there, to keep the peace; and drums, all up and down the city, was beat to raise the trained bands, for to quiett the towne, and by and by, going out with my uncle and aunt Wight by coach with my wife through Cheapside (the rest of the company after much content and mirth being broke up), we saw a trained band stand in Cheapside upon their guard. We went, much against my uncle’s will, as far almost as Hyde Park, he and my aunt falling out all the way about it, which vexed me, but by this I understand my uncle more than ever I did, for he was mighty soon angry, and wished a pox take her, which I was sorry to hear. The weather I confess turning on a sudden to rain did make it very unpleasant, but yet there was no occasion in the world for his being so angry, but she bore herself very discreetly, and I must confess she proves to me much another woman than I thought her, but all was peace again presently, and so it raining very fast, we met many brave coaches coming from the Parke and so we turned and set them down at home, and so we home ourselves, and ended the day with great content to think how it hath pleased the Lord in six years time to raise me from a condition of constant and dangerous and most painfull sicknesse and low condition and poverty to a state of constant health almost, great honour and plenty, for which the Lord God of heaven make me truly thankfull.
My wife found her gowne come home laced, which is indeed very handsome, but will cost me a great deal of money, more than ever I intended, but it is but for once. So to the office and did business, and then home and to bed.

I kept a journal of the morning
put the least wind
on a map of dissenters
but pass without ado
the idol whose gold body
is the pillory

like a drum I beat for quiet
my cheap mirth rained
on the weather turning
but the world proves another ark
and ourselves
the dangerous God


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 26 March 1664.

(Lady-day). Up and by water to White Hall, and there to chappell; where it was most infinite full to hear Dr. Critton. Being not knowne, some great persons in the pew I pretended to, and went in, did question my coming in. I told them my pretence; so they turned to the orders of the chappell, which hung behind upon the wall, and read it; and were satisfied; but they did not demand whether I was in waiting or no; and so I was in some fear lest he that was in waiting might come and betray me.
The Doctor preached upon the thirty-first of Jeremy, and the twenty-first and twenty-second verses, about a woman compassing a man; meaning the Virgin conceiving and bearing our Saviour. It was the worst sermon I ever heard him make, I must confess; and yet it was good, and in two places very bitter, advising the King to do as the Emperor Severus did, to hang up a Presbyter John (a short coat and a long gowne interchangeably) in all the Courts of England. But the story of Severus was pretty, that he hanged up forty senators before the Senate house, and then made a speech presently to the Senate in praise of his owne lenity; and then decreed that never any senator after that time should suffer in the same manner without consent of the Senate: which he compared to the proceeding of the Long Parliament against my Lord Strafford. He said the greatest part of the lay magistrates in England were Puritans, and would not do justice; and the Bishopps, their powers were so taken away and lessened, that they could not exercise the power they ought. He told the King and the ladies plainly, speaking of death and of the skulls and bones of dead men and women, how there is no difference; that nobody could tell that of the great Marius or Alexander from a pyoneer; nor, for all the pains the ladies take with their faces, he that should look in a charnels-house could not distinguish which was Cleopatra’s, or fair Rosamond’s, or Jane Shoare’s.
Thence by water home. After dinner to the office, thence with my wife to see my father and discourse how he finds Tom’s matters, which he do very ill, and that he finds him to have been so negligent, that he used to trust his servants with cutting out of clothes, never hardly cutting out anything himself; and, by the abstract of his accounts, we find him to owe above 290l., and to be coming to him under 200l.
Thence home with my wife, it being very dirty on foot, and bought some fowl in Gracious Street and some oysters against our feast to-morrow. So home, and after at the office a while, home to supper and to bed.

sing our savior the byte
short and interchangeably present for us

power is a plain skull nobody faces
a charnel house of abstract accounts

we find under the dirt
a gracious feast


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 25 March 1664.

The yard guys who it seemed
went into hibernation all winter
show up promptly on the first
day of spring with their noisy
leaf blowers, their headphones,
their hedge trimmers. They nuke
the weeds in the backyard, cart
away all the dead limbs and
a season’s worth of brittle
gumballs on the ground. As if
influenced by all this activity,
our youngest daughter attacks
all the drawers and closets
in her room, piling outgrown
knick-knacks and clothing
in brown grocery bags: itchy
plaid shirts that no longer
button easily across the chest,
graphic tees and sweatshirts
she describes as being from
those “emo 7th grade days.”
And I, inspired now too
by the desire to make things
clean and airy, drag the grey
area rug to the deck and hose
it down with soap and water.
While I pick bits of hair
(all our shedding) off the pile,
I notice the falling-down shed
and its worn wood surface,
the dull greenish hue creeping
across the fence… Touch one thing
and it leads to another: soon the seeds
flower and the bud swirls to leaf;
blackbirds come to raid
the reddening fruit, and you
stand blinking in the sunshine,
trying to recall everything you told
yourself you were going to do next.

For years, a train made the twice-daily journey
to and from remote Kami-Shirataki station in Hokkaido

until its only passenger finally graduated from high school.
Imagine miles and miles of white in winter, the cloudy

yellow beam approaching, muffled soughing and sighing
of wheels on the tracks. Imagine ochre and stippled

countryside, sheets unrolling with the thaw of spring.
Where is she now, the last ticket tendered?

 

In response to Via Negativa: Foggy.

Called up by my father, poor man, coming to advise with me about Tom’s house and other matters, and he being gone I down by water to Greenwich, it being very-foggy, and I walked very finely to Woolwich, and there did very much business at both yards, and thence walked back, Captain Grove with me talking, and so to Deptford and did the like– there, and then walked to Redriffe (calling and eating a bit of collops and eggs at Half-way house), and so home to the office, where we sat late, and home weary to supper and to bed.

all is one in fog
a fine wool

the grove like a riff
half-way to the ear


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 24 March 1663/64.

Have you ever had to prove
who you are before you
can buy a ticket, a cup
of coffee, a hard roll?

Weren’t we just saying:
why is it so hard to understand
the need to object to the depiction
of our pain by others?

This is not about abstraction:
history as a thing we can talk
about, freedom and the the so-
called purity of rights.

No one should get to decide
but the ones who’ve bled
in the trenches that this wasn’t
a skirmish but a war.

No one gets to decide
but the one who’s suffered
what color is its closest
approximation.

Up, and going out saw Mrs. Buggin’s dog, which proves as I thought last night so pretty that I took him and the bitch into my closet below, and by holding down the bitch helped him to line her, which he did very stoutly, so as I hope it will take, for it is the prettiest dog that ever I saw.
So to the office, where very busy all the morning, and so to the ‘Change, and off hence with Sir W. Rider to the Trinity House, and there dined very well: and good discourse among the old men of Islands now and then rising and falling again in the Sea, and that there is many dangers of grounds and rocks that come just up to the edge almost of the sea, that is never discovered and ships perish without the world’s knowing the reason of it.
Among other things, they observed, that there are but two seamen in the Parliament house, viz., Sir W. Batten and Sir W. Pen, and not above twenty or thirty merchants; which is a strange thing in an island, and no wonder that things of trade go no better nor are better understood.
Thence home, and all the afternoon at the office, only for an hour in the evening my Lady Jemimah, Paulina, and Madam Pickering come to see us, but my wife would not be seen, being unready. Very merry with them; they mightily talking of their thrifty living for a fortnight before their mother came to town, and other such simple talk, and of their merry life at Brampton, at my father’s, this winter. So they being gone, to the office again till late, and so home and to supper and to bed.

the old men of islands
never discover ships

observe the sea
only for an hour

talking of thrifty living
and the winter ice


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 23 March 1663/64.

Up, and spent the whole morning and afternoon at my office, only in the evening, my wife being at my aunt Wight’s, I went thither, calling at my own house, going out found the parlour curtains drawn, and inquiring the reason of it, they told me that their mistress had got Mrs. Buggin’s fine little dog and our little bitch, which is proud at this time, and I am apt to think that she was helping him to line her, for going afterwards to my uncle Wight’s, and supping there with her, where very merry with Mr. Woolly’s drollery, and going home I found the little dog so little that of himself he could not reach our bitch, which I am sorry for, for it is the finest dog that ever I saw in my life, as if he were painted the colours are so finely mixed and shaded. God forgive me, it went against me to have my wife and servants look upon them while they endeavoured to do something and yet it provoked me to pleasure with my wife more than usual tonight.

I draw this ink line
no paint so finely mixed and shaded
against the usual night


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 22 March 1663/64.

Yes I’m mother too—
though I don’t think I could even begin

to process that pain: the illogic
of a child’s passing before the parent,

the violation of a certain idea of the order
of things. I will argue such sorrow

could be but isn’t truly universal
in all those ways we try to find language

for alliance but always come short; for how
could anyone know? More than this—

whatever one might be expected to say
in solidarity, cannot take the place of.

When my friend says At the moment I saw
the cops at the door, even before they rang

the bell I knew. When the dumbstruck
father of the woman they shot as she ate her meal

on a makeshift table in the street cannot form
any words for a statement. In other words

I may know the pain of a child in pain but not
the terror of losing him in such ways, not

the helplessness of seeing the aftermath of violence,
its blunt disfigurements, its contortions and cigarette

burns, its traumas. Banal obscenity
of final objects they touched, next to

their bodies: the meal not yet cooled, the change
on the counter, the candy that spilled from a bag.

 

In response to Via Negativa: A certain slant of light.