Up, called by Mr. Cholmely, and walked with him in the garden till others came to another Committee of Tangier, as we did meet as we did use to do, to see more of Povy’s folly, and so broke up, and at the office sat all the morning, Mr. Coventry with us, and very hot we are getting out some ships.
At noon to the ‘Change, and there did some business, and thence home to dinner, and so abroad with my wife by coach to the New Exchange, and there laid out almost 40s. upon her, and so called to see my Lady Sandwich, whom we found in her dining-room, which joyed us mightily; but she looks very thin, poor woman, being mightily broke. She told us that Mr. Montagu is to return to Court, as she hears, which I wonder at, and do hardly believe.
So home and to my office, where late, and so home to supper and to bed.

a folly of hot hips
laid out on sand

joy thin
as a late supper


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 21 May 1664.

“mi ritrovai per una selva oscura…”
(“I found myself in a dark wood…”)
~ Dante, Inferno

Today is a mixed bag.
In one sense you are hidden, yet
in another way you are conspicuous.
If you are in mid-life, stay chill
and don’t get sucked in. Hormones
aren’t the only big picture! As long
as you’re aware, enjoy schmoozing
with others! If you’ve started the day
single, never fear: the sun activates
your involvement chart. Be honest. Admit
you want to achieve more. Be daring. Your new
love could sweep you along or be the lone figure
contemplating ephemeral egg white sculptures
in the gallery. Radiate your gossamer wings.
The planets are always boasting about who
has the bigger pull: grade this retrograde,
baby. Wear shades and go without makeup—
pretend you don’t see them stumbling
down the avenue like talent scouts
wasted from yet another after-party.
Go ahead and plan, pitch and promote.
Be your own agent; this is your sign.

I knew when he’d gone out on the porch,
I knew when she’d locked the door
to their bedroom.
From my window I could see
where he sat with his forehead cradled
in his palm, the edge of his nape
milky in moonlight.
I wanted to shout Stop
being so dramatic! Stop making the air
so heavy with your sad misunderstandings!

The glistening barbs thrown
before breakfast was even on the table,
the knives and forks and fruit
whistling through the air like compact
missiles. No one paid attention
to the narrowing orbits of the stars,
or whether spiders fell from the insides
of open umbrellas. I sat under one
wishing for a telegram to come from overseas,
for a hand to pluck me out from under
the bathroom sink where I crouched.
When they didn’t, I discovered I could break
through the skin of my silence. I discovered
words which could plow through the earth
and start up with the sound of an eighteen-
wheeler, to drown out these little hells
and their tiresome ping-ponging
back and forth in space.

Up and to my office, whither by and by comes Mr. Cholmely, and staying till the rest of the company come he told me how Mr. Edward Montagu is turned out of the Court, not [to] return again. His fault, I perceive, was his pride, and most of all his affecting to seem great with the Queene and it seems indeed had more of her eare than any body else, and would be with her talking alone two or three hours together; insomuch that the Lords about the King, when he would be jesting with them about their wives, would tell the King that he must have a care of his wife too, for she hath now the gallant: and they say the King himself did once ask Montagu how his mistress (meaning the Queene) did. He grew so proud, and despised every body, besides suffering nobody, he or she, to get or do any thing about the Queene, that they all laboured to do him a good turn. They also say that he did give some affront to the Duke of Monmouth, which the King himself did speak to him of. But strange it is that this man should, from the greatest negligence in the world, come to be the miracle of attendance, so as to take all offices from everybody, either men or women, about the Queene. Insomuch that he was observed as a miracle, but that which is the worst, that which in a wise manner performed [would] turn to his greatest advantage, was by being so observed employed to his greatest wrong, the world concluding that there must be something more than ordinary to cause him to do this. So he is gone, nobody pitying but laughing at him; and he pretends only that he is gone to his father, that is sick in the country.
By and by comes Povy, Creed, and Vernatty, and so to their accounts, wherein more trouble and vexation with Povy. That being done, I sent them going and myself fell to business till dinner. So home to dinner very pleasant. In the afternoon to my office, where busy again, and by and by came a letter from my father so full of trouble for discontents there between my mother and servants, and such troubles to my father from hence from Cave that hath my brother’s bastard that I know not what in the world to do, but with great trouble, it growing night, spent some time walking, and putting care as much as I could out of my head, with my wife in the garden, and so home to supper and to bed.

how an ear must suffer
out in the world
miracle of attendance to nobody
a cave in the growing night


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 20 May 1664.

Wasn’t there joy, wasn’t there appetite
and expectation? Weren’t the jets of steam

from the laundry a welcome veil on the skin?
Wasn’t the stucco on the wall a way to keep

the sugar trails alive longer? Didn’t the ants
crowd every baseboard and the geckos plummet

like dark green weights at dusk? Wasn’t the blown
glass lamp an ochre pool that wings papered,

night after sultry night? And wasn’t there a bed
with sheets of cotton, surrounded by nets of gauze?

Didn’t the water flower crimson in the basin
and the child open its mouth to the moon?

Up, and it being very rayny weather, which makes it cooler than it was, by coach to Charing Cross with Sir W. Pen, who is going to Portsmouth this day, and left him going to St. James’s to take leave of the Duke, and I to White Hall to a Committee of Tangier; where God forgive how our Report of my Lord Peterborough’s accounts was read over and agreed to by the Lords, without one of them understanding it! And had it been what it would, it had gone: and, besides, not one thing touching the King’s profit in it minded or hit upon.
Thence by coach home again, and all the morning at the office, sat, and all the afternoon till 9 at night, being fallen again to business, and I hope my health will give me leave to follow it.
So home to supper and to bed, finding myself pretty well. A pretty good stool, which I impute to my whey to-day, and broke wind also.

rainy day—
a rough reed touching
all the wind


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 19 May 1664.

Here’s the quote now made famous in
the Disney movie: “Ohana means family;
and family means nobody gets left behind
or forgotten.” And no matter how cheesy,
I can’t erase it from my head, nor

the moment when the alien adoptee
recreates in the child’s bedroom
the scene, to frightening scale, where
Godzilla stomps through San Francisco,
terrorizing the people, chewing up cars,

tossing suspension bridge pilings aside
like so many pretzel sticks. And of course
he doesn’t know he’s only acting out
what some psychologists have called
the Theory of Abandonment: how,

given the trauma of neglect,
emotional or physical detachment,
the psyche responds with fear
or lashes out in rage especially
when the sphere of the intimate

comes to bear down again to make
its complicated claims on him. All
I can think of is how in my ohana
(so close in sound to the Filipino
tahanan) circumstances have made it

so that I’ve physically left my children behind
enough times—for school, for work, to build
a new life and relationships— I wonder if I’m not
the sole cause of their own difficulties whenever
that sad, dark beast comes down from its lair

to rampage through their lives. At such
times I can’t see, blind through my own griefs,
but to follow in their wake: holding out my arms
even as I step sideways through the pile of broken
toys, and the shards the hula girl lamp has become.

Up and within all the morning, being willing to keep as much as I could within doors, but receiving a very wakening letter from Mr. Coventry about fitting of ships, which speaks something like to be done, I went forth to the office, there to take order in things, and after dinner to White Hall to a Committee of Tangier, but did little. So home again and to Sir W. Pen, who, among other things of haste in this new order for ships, is ordered to be gone presently to Portsmouth to look after the work there. I staid to discourse with him, and so home to supper, where upon a fine couple of pigeons, a good supper; and here I met a pretty cabinet sent me by Mr. Shales, which I give my wife, the first of that sort of goods I ever had yet, and very conveniently it comes for her closett. I staid up late finding out the private boxes, but could not do some of them, and so to bed, afraid that I have been too bold to-day in venturing in the cold.
This day I begun to drink butter-milke and whey, and I hope to find great good by it.

door awakening
like a new mouth

a couple of pigeons come close
finding the box too bold

venturing to drink and eat by it


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 18 May 1664.

Slept well all night and lay long, then rose and wrote my letter to my father about Pall, as we had resolved last night. So to dinner and then to the office, finding myself better than I was, and making a little water, but not yet breaking any great store of wind, which I wonder at, for I cannot be well till I do do it. After office home and to supper and with good ease to bed, and endeavoured to tie my hands that I might not lay them out of bed, by which I believe I have got cold, but I could not endure it.

night rose let me go
to bed and tie
my hands

I might be old
but I could endure


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 17 May 1664.