Up, being well pleased with my new lodging and the convenience of having our mayds and none else about us, Will lying below. So to the office, and there we sat full of business all the morning. At noon I home to dinner, and then abroad to buy a bell to hang by our chamber door to call the mayds. Then to the office, and met Mr. Blackburne, who came to know the reason of his kinsman (my Will) his being observed by his friends of late to droop much. I told him my great displeasure against him and the reasons of it, to his great trouble yet satisfaction, for my care over him, and how every thing I said was for the good of the fellow, and he will take time to examine the fellow about all, and to desire my pleasure concerning him, which I told him was either that he should become a better servant or that we would not have him under my roof to be a trouble. He tells me in a few days he will come to me again and we shall agree what to do therein. I home and told my wife all, and am troubled to see that my servants and others should be the greatest trouble I have in the world, more than for myself. We then to set up our bell with a smith very well, and then I late at the office. So home to supper and to bed.

full of morning
the bell by our door

who am I to droop
if others should trouble
the world more than me


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 3 October 1663.

Up betimes and by water to St. James’s, and there visited Mr. Coventry as a compliment after his new coming to town, but had no great talk with him, he being full of business. So back by foot through London, doing several errands, and at the ‘Change met with Mr. Cutler, and he and I to a coffee-house, and there discoursed, and he do assure me that there is great likelyhood of a war with Holland, but I hope we shall be in good condition before it comes to break out. I like his company, and will make much of his acquaintance.
So home to dinner with my wife, who is over head and eares in getting her house up, and so to the office, and with Mr. Lewes, late, upon some of the old victuallers’ accounts, and so home to supper and to bed, up to our red chamber, where we purpose always to lie. This day I received a letter from Mr. Barlow, with a Terella, which I had hoped he had sent me, but to my trouble I find it is to present from him to my Lord Sandwich, but I will make a little use of it first, and then give it him.

time to visit but no talk in us
and the land becomes like company

her house on the sand will make
little use of it


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 2 October 1663.

Sorrow, thick as a tongue
in my mouth tonight, crackling
rind soaked in salt and vinegar;
heavy as a shawl wound tight
around my bodice, pressing
the light of the moon
from my eyes— Why do you
take me to bed with you,
sorrow, yet keep me
from sleep? Why do you
surreptitiously stick me
in the ribs to make me remember
where I’ve hidden away my last
small store of heirlooms,
and force me to give them up
to you? I have forfeited all
the best days of my youth,
all the profit from the work
of my hands. And yet you want
even the network of tiny
flowering veins in the center
of my palm, the leftover futures
that now no gypsy will want
to read. I go on my knees,
weep wounding, invisible
tears— I have no more gifts
but this cloud of rain, blue-
green as vines in my hair.

Dear salt, dear silt
in the eye of the nacred
interior, how much
time did it take
to make that beautiful
shell for your tears?

I too have dreams
of living closer
to the water’s surface,
where the net shimmers
and the light is caught.
I want to place cool

palms on either side
of my face without feeling
my head might explode; want
smooth relief like the skin
of an apple, or even like
a small marble of milk.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Breadwinner.

Up and betimes to my office, and then to sit, where Sir G. Carteret, Sir W. Batten, Sir W. Pen, Sir J. Minnes, Mr. Coventry and myself, a fuller board than by the King’s progresse and the late pays and my absence has been a great while.
Sat late, and then home to dinner. After dinner I by water to Deptford about a little business, and so back again, buying a couple of good eeles by the way, and after writing by the post, home to see the painter at work, late, in my wife’s closet, and so to supper and to bed, having been very merry with the painter, late, while he was doing his work.
This day the King and Court returned from their progress.

my absence
at dinner after dinner
ate me up

work is an ogre


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 1 October 1663.

Rose very well, and my hearing pretty well again, and so to my office, by and by Mr. Holliard come, and at my house he searched my ear, and I hope all will be well, though I do not yet hear so well as I used to do with my right ear.
So to my office till noon, and then home to dinner, and in the afternoon by water to White Hall, to the Tangier Committee; where my Lord Tiviott about his accounts; which grieves me to see that his accounts being to be examined by us, there are none of the great men at the Board that in compliment will except against any thing in his accounts, and so none of the little persons dare do it: so the King is abused.
Thence home again by water with Sir W. Rider, and so to my office, and there I sat late making up my month’s accounts, and, blessed be God, do find myself 760l. creditor, notwithstanding that for clothes for myself and wife, and layings out on her closett, I have spent this month 47l.. So home, where I found our new cooke-mayde Elizabeth, whom my wife never saw at all, nor I but once at a distance before, but recommended well by Mr. Creed, and I hope will prove well. So to supper, prayers, and bed.
This evening Mr. Coventry is come to St. James’s, but I did not go see him, and tomorrow the King, Queen, Duke and his Lady, and the whole Court comes to towne from their progresse. Myself and family well, only my father sicke in the country.
All the common talke for newes is the Turke’s advance in Hungary, &c.

rose I do not hear with
ear of no afternoon committee

where is that mine none of the great men
at the board will dare to bless

God my creditor
whom I never saw

at a distance prayers become all
the common news


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 30 September 1663, prompted by news of the proposed Rosemont copper mine.

You come from a place of pain
You come from a place of darkness
~ Azar Nafisi

This is our world made
and remade and unmade,
isn’t it? It’s like someone
peers through

the glass dome
and lightly taps
a finger, releasing
a flurry of barely

anchored sand, a hail
of meteorites, a sandstorm.
But never a snowstorm: ours
is a tropical country, where

the only weather is made
from rain and heat, rain
and prefabricated promises
from politicians. Mostly

there is an eye, large as land
mass, whirling over the Pacific,
its white hems ominous,
gathering darkness.

The old Dulwich burial ground

photo of a cemetery

This ground heaves, lurchingly
    uneven through its mulch of leaves,

tips us towards the tilting graves,
    the shade of tall, stooped trees.

The stone sarcophagi are empty – burial
    was below, in now unfathomable depths.

Toppled headstones sink slowly
    in a green lawn where the nameless

are marked by darker green hollows
    that tempt today’s visitors to lie down,

and a girl in a vintage print frock
    carries a golden bowl — her cycle helmet,

its glinting curves reflecting miniature
    monuments, tiny people, old light.

Took two pills more in the morning and they worked all day, and I kept the house. About noon dined, and then to carry several heavy things with my wife up and down stairs, in order to our going to lie above, and Will to come down to the Wardrobe, and that put me into a violent sweat, so I had a fire made, and then, being dry again, she and I to put up some paper pictures in the red chamber, where we go to lie very pretty, and the map of Paris. Then in the evening, towards night, it fell to thunder, lighten, and rain so violently that my house was all afloat, and I in all the rain up to the gutters, and there dabbled in the rain and wet half an hour, enough to have killed a man. That done downstairs to dry myself again, and by and by come Mr. Sympson to set up my wife’s chimney-piece in her closett, which pleases me, and so that being done, I to supper and to bed, shifting myself from top to toe, and doubtful of my doing myself hurt.

I work to carry several heavy things
a lie the war

that violent red map in my gut
enough to have killed me

my wife in bed shifting
doubtful of my hurt


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 29 September 1663.