We are so guarded
about our privacy

about the sanctity
of our bodies

about personal
space which must

on no account
be crossed or

Except when we

are at the dentist’s
and he says Open

your mouth or
at the doctor’s

and he says Take off
all your clothes or

This will not hurt
one bit or

passing through
security screening

at the airport
where the agent

says Step on the foot-
prints and raise both

hands in the air
If that should prove

not to be enough
Step outside

for another agent
to do the pat-down

Up and to the office, where all the morning sitting, and at noon upon several things to the ‘Change, and thence to Sir G. Carteret’s to dinner of my own accord, and after dinner with Mr. Wayth down to Deptford doing several businesses, and by land back again, it being very cold, the boat meeting me after my staying a while for him at an alehouse by Redriffe stairs. So home, and took Will coming out of my doors, at which I was a little moved, and told my wife of her keeping him from the office (though God knows my base jealous head was the cause of it), which she seemed troubled at, and that it was only to discourse with her about finding a place for her brother. So I to my office late, Mr. Commander coming to read over my will in order to the engrossing it, and so he being gone I to other business, among others chiefly upon preparing matters against Creed for my profit, and so home to supper and bed, being mightily troubled with my left eye all this evening from some dirt that is got into it.

sitting on the cold stairs
I read over it again
with my left eye

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 28 January 1663/64.

Up and to the office, and at noon to the Coffeehouse, where I sat with Sir G. Ascue and Sir William Petty, who in discourse is, methinks, one of the most rational men that ever I heard speak with a tongue, having all his notions the most distinct and clear, and, among other things (saying, that in all his life these three books were the most esteemed and generally cried up for wit in the world “Religio Medici,” “Osborne’s Advice to a Son,” and “Hudibras”), did say that in these — in the two first principally — the wit lies, and confirming some pretty sayings, which are generally like paradoxes, by some argument smartly and pleasantly urged, which takes with people who do not trouble themselves to examine the force of an argument, which pleases them in the delivery, upon a subject which they like; whereas, as by many particular instances of mine, and others, out of Osborne, he did really find fault and weaken the strength of many of Osborne’s arguments, so as that in downright disputation they would not bear weight; at least, so far, but that they might be weakened, and better found in their rooms to confirm what is there said. He shewed finely whence it happens that good writers are not admired by the present age; because there are but few in any age that do mind anything that is abstruse and curious; and so longer before any body do put the true praise, and set it on foot in the world, the generality of mankind pleasing themselves in the easy delights of the world, as eating, drinking, dancing, hunting, fencing, which we see the meanest men do the best, those that profess it. A gentleman never dances so well as the dancing master, and an ordinary fiddler makes better musique for a shilling than a gentleman will do after spending forty, and so in all the delights of the world almost.
Thence to the ‘Change, and after doing much business, home, taking Commissioner Pett with me, and all alone dined together. He told me many stories of the yard, but I do know him so well, and had his character given me this morning by Hempson, as well as my own too of him before, that I shall know how to value any thing he says either of friendship or other business. He was mighty serious with me in discourse about the consequence of Sir W. Petty’s boat, as the most dangerous thing in the world, if it should be practised by endangering our losse of the command of the seas and our trade, while the Turkes and others shall get the use of them, which, without doubt, by bearing more sayle will go faster than any other ships, and, not being of burden, our merchants cannot have the use of them and so will be at the mercy of their enemies. So that I perceive he is afeard that the honour of his trade will down, though (which is a truth) he pretends this consideration to hinder the growth of this invention. He being gone my wife and I took coach and to Covent Garden, to buy a maske at the French House, Madame Charett’s, for my wife; in the way observing the streete full of coaches at the new play, “The Indian Queene;” which for show, they say, exceeds “Henry the Eighth.” Thence back to Mrs. Turner’s and sat a while with them talking of plays and I know not what, and so called to see Tom, but not at home, though they say he is in a deep consumption, and Mrs. Turner and Dike and they say he will not live two months to an end.
So home and to the office, and then to supper and to bed.

to the rational tongue
books are like people born in the present

that set foot in the world
as light as a dancing master

and make better music
than the most dangerous seas

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 27 January 1663/64.

I’d forgotten
how young I was
when I first started
teaching— most

of the students
either my age, many
even a few years
older. I’d stand

beside the door, arms
folded around books
and a small box of chalk,
waiting for the bell

and for the instructor
inside the room to finish
with his class. I’d step in
at last; on the first

day, there were always
a few who stared with
disbelief, wondering
what I was doing

in front of the room,
setting up for a lesson.
It’s 36 years since
the first day I

stood there: clearing
my throat, then finding
the thread; taking it up,
following it to its source.

I know, I know, now you can
apply online through most
countries’ designated

immigration portals— check
eligibility, check the boxes,
fill out the forms, file the fees.

It’s just that I remember the days
when you had to line up hours
before dawn on the sidewalk:

swat at mosquitoes, pinch
your nose against the smell
of urine wafting from the bushes

every time a hot wind blew in
from the bay. When the interview
windows opened at 8 am, it felt

like waiting for a turn at live
lotto. Never mind that you had
all your paperwork neatly

paper-clipped in a folder
along with your fee receipts.
What would the embassy official

stamp on your form? You prayed
for a different fate from the man
given Application Denied: begging

before the window, knowing
this would be his last hope
to see his dying mother

in that other land. At least then,
there might have been a chance
to see what kinds of faces

they wore. Whether there was
something in them that might
be moved by the human.

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning. At noon to the ‘Change, after being at the Coffee-house, where I sat by Tom Killigrew, who told us of a fire last night in my Lady Castlemaine’s lodging, where she bid 40l. for one to adventure the fetching of a cabinet out, which at last was got to be done; and the fire at last quenched without doing much wrong. To ‘Change and there did much business, so home to dinner, and then to the office all the afternoon. And so at night my aunt Wight and Mrs. Buggin came to sit with my wife, and I in to them all the evening, my uncle coming afterward, and after him Mr. Benson the Dutchman, a frank, merry man. We were very merry and played at cards till late and so broke up and to bed in good hopes that this my friendship with my uncle and aunt will end well.

the office
where we all grew old
on fire at last

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 26 January 1663/64.

Up and by coach to Whitehall to my Lord’s lodgings, and seeing that knowing that I was in the house, my Lord did not nevertheless send for me up, I did go to the Duke’s lodgings, and there staid while he was making ready, in which time my Lord Sandwich came, and so all into his closet and did our common business, and so broke up, and I homeward by coach with Sir W. Batten, and staid at Warwicke Lane and there called upon Mr. Commander and did give him my last will and testament to write over in form, and so to the ‘Change, where I did several businesses. So home to dinner, and after I had dined Luellin came and we set him something to eat, and I left him there with my wife, and to the office upon a particular meeting of the East India Company, where I think I did the King good service against the Company in the business of their sending our ships home empty from the Indies contrary to their contract, and yet, God forgive me! I found that I could be willing to receive a bribe if it were offered me to conceal my arguments that I found against them, in consideration that none of my fellow officers, whose duty it is more than mine, had ever studied the case, or at this hour do understand it, and myself alone must do it.
That being done Mr. Povy and Bland came to speak with me about their business of the reference, wherein I shall have some more trouble, but cannot help it, besides I hope to make some good use of Mr. Povy to my advantage.
So home after business done at my office, to supper, and then to the globes with my wife, and so to bed. Troubled a little in mind that my Lord Sandwich should continue this strangeness to me that methinks he shows me now a days more than while the thing was fresh.

I broke up with my last will and testament
and left empty

and yet I could be willing again
in an hour

without help I hope
to make some use of age

on a globe so troubled
and strange to me now

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 25 January 1663/64.

You can’t remember how many nights
or days or cycles you’ve picked yourself up
from countless falls.
Luisa A. Igloria, “Way Station

for my mother

before your attending doctors
could bore a hole in your throat
to attach tubes to a life-sustaining machine,
you waged your silent
protest by dying at the hour of
great mercy, the hour i was away
from your bed, the hour i chose
to indulge in a siesta elsewhere
to make up for days, some nights
i hovered over you like a dutiful
daughter, a role
alien to me

nothing in your sudden departure
in cruel May prepared me or those
closest to you for this dystopian
universe we now inhabit:
the cheapening of human lives,
killings to the right of us,
killings to the left, to the front
and behind us, duct-taped corpses
fouling the night, the bitter wails of
new widows and orphans, bald men,
bewigged men, their bald-faced lies,
their armies of trolls scrutinizing,
deciphering our increasingly secret hieroglyphics

they say this downward cycle of darkness
is but temporary, depending on
a leader’s term of office

if this churlish despot leaves
through a possible resistance,
will Enlightenment follow?

even you in your grave, Mother, would
chide me for clinging to a child’s naivete
but let me hang on to this belief, so written
in Ecclesiastes, that all things under heaven,
on this earth, serve a purpose

(Lord’s day). Lay long in bed, and then up, and being desirous to perform my vowes that I lately made, among others, to be performed this month, I did go to my office, and there fell on entering, out of a bye-book, part of my second journall-book, which hath lain these two years and more unentered. Upon this work till dinner, and after dinner to it again till night, and then home to supper, and after supper to read a lecture to my wife upon the globes, and so to prayers and to bed. This evening also I drew up a rough draught of my last will to my mind.

in bed
desirous to perform
we perform

entering a book
I read a rough draft of my mind

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 24 January 1663/64.