Test hole

Up, and at the office all the morning. At noon home and, there being business to do in the afternoon, took my Lord Bruncker home with me, who dined with me. His discourse and mine about the bad performances of the Controller’s and Surveyor’s places by the hands they are now in, and the shame to the service and loss the King suffers by it. Then after dinner to the office, where we and some of the chief of the Trinity House met to examine the occasion of the loss of The Prince Royall, the master and mates being examined, which I took and keep, and so broke up, and I to my letters by the post, and so home and to supper with my mind at pretty good ease, being entered upon minding my business, and so to bed. This noon Mrs. Burroughs come to me about business, whom I did besar and haza ella tocar mi chose.

the Lord with his bad
surveyor’s hands
suffers some trinity
to mine my minding

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 10 January 1667.


Everything I said in the throes
of darkness was taken from me,

then turned into a cloth
of a different weave. Try

as I might, I could not return
the original color of my speech

or thought. I touched the out-
line of my knuckles and felt

with the tip of my tongue
the small gaps between

my teeth. I wondered how
others could be so sure

of themselves, how quickly
they could call up different

selves and still say I: one
wearing the coat of self-

righteous fury, another the robes
and gavel of a judge; a gallery

of hairy gods who, out of boredom,
paper the gates with fireflies.

Place holder

Up, and to the office, where we sat all the morning. At noon home to dinner, where my uncle Thomas with me to receive his quarterage. He tells me his son Thomas is set up in Smithfield, where he hath a shop — I suppose, a booth. Presently after dinner to the office, and there set close to my business and did a great deal before night, and am resolved to stand to it, having been a truant too long. At night to Sir W. Batten’s to consider some things about our prizes, and then to other talk, and among other things he tells me that he hears for certain that Sir W. Coventry hath resigned to the King his place of Commissioner of the Navy, the thing he hath often told me that he had a mind to do, but I am surprised to think that he hath done it, and am full of thoughts all this evening after I heard it what may be the consequences of it to me. So home and to supper, and then saw the catalogue of my books, which my brother had wrote out, now perfectly alphabeticall, and so to bed. Sir Richard Ford did this evening at Sir W. Batten’s tell us that upon opening the body of my Lady Denham it is said that they found a vessel about her matrix which had never been broke by her husband, that caused all pains in her body. Which if true is excellent invention to clear both the Duchesse from poison or the Duke from lying with her.

office where I age

where having been too long
I consider some things prizes

in that place
I am perfectly alphabetical

in that open cell

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 8 January 1667.


For days now, geckos and lizards 
have slid up and down the walls,
not only at dusk. The air smells
of burnt rice, boiled green shoots.
When the sun comes out, it tints
small portraits through any surface
with holes. Therefore my children
are offended when I talk of having
the sense of running out of time.
If only the light could carve
amulets on my arms, on my body.
If only words were not fevers.

Anatomy lesson

Lay long in bed. Then up and to the office, where busy all the morning. At noon (my wife being gone to Westminster) I with my Lord Bruncker by coach as far as the Temple, in the way he telling me that my Lady Denham is at last dead. Some suspect her poisoned, but it will be best known when her body is opened, which will be to-day, she dying yesterday morning. The Duke of York is troubled for her; but hath declared he will never have another public mistress again; which I shall be glad of, and would the King would do the like. He tells me how the Parliament is grown so jealous of the King’s being unfayre to them in the business of the Bill for examining Accounts, Irish Bill, and the business of the Papists, that they will not pass the business for money till they see themselves secure that those Bills will pass; which they do observe the Court to keep off till all the Bills come together, that the King may accept what he pleases, and what he pleases to reject, which will undo all our business and the kingdom too.
He tells me how Mr. Henry Howard, of Norfolke, hath given our Royal Society all his grandfather’s library: which noble gift they value at 1000l.; and gives them accommodation to meet in at his house, Arundell House, they being now disturbed at Gresham College.
Thence ‘lighting at the Temple to the ordinary hard by and eat a bit of meat, and then by coach to fetch my wife from her brother’s, and thence to the Duke’s house, and saw “Macbeth,” which, though I saw it lately, yet appears a most excellent play in all respects, but especially in divertisement, though it be a deep tragedy; which is a strange perfection in a tragedy, it being most proper here, and suitable.
So home, it being the last play now I am to see till a fortnight hence, I being from the last night entered into my vowes for the year coming on.
Here I met with the good newes of Hogg’s bringing in two prizes more to Plymouth, which if they prove but any part of them, I hope, at least, we shall be no losers by them.
So home from the office, to write over fair my vowes for this year, and then to supper, and to bed. In great peace of mind having now done it, and brought myself into order again and a resolution of keeping it, and having entered my journall to this night, so to bed, my eyes failing me with writing.

her dead body is opened
like the king’s business

they see themselves
in a royal library of meat

divertisement though it be deep
is a strange perfection in tragedy

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 7 January 1667.

After Disaster

Cradle the heads of pineapples
dusted with ash; go from one

statue in the garden to another
to make sure which ones are animals

not completely turned to stone.
Rub the hem of the Virgin's

robe to see if she can remember
at least two words for blue.

Understand that what burns
in the sky has come up

through the earth from long
before you. So when your tears

make tracks on the floured table
of your cheeks, remember how far

away stars are from the wounds
that made them. Pray for rain,

for the earth to finish rocking.
Sparks flare; wings darken the skies

and the blacksmith sees how, after
the blows, his hands are still shaking.


(Lord’s day). Up pretty well in the morning, and then to church, where a dull doctor, a stranger, made a dull sermon. Then home, and Betty Michell and her husband come by invitation to dine with us, and, she I find the same as ever (which I was afraid of the contrary) notwithstanding what yo haze ella hazer cum ego the last Sunday but one when we were abroad together. Here come also Mr. Howe to dine with me, and we had a good dinner and good merry discourse with much pleasure, I enjoying myself mightily to have friends at my table.
After dinner young Michell and I, it being an excellent frosty day to walk, did walk out, he showing me the baker’s house in Pudding Lane, where the late great fire begun; and thence all along Thames Street, where I did view several places, and so up by London Wall, by Blackfriars, to Ludgate; and thence to Bridewell, which I find to have been heretofore an extraordinary good house, and a fine coming to it, before the house by the bridge was built; and so to look about St. Bride’s church and my father’s house, and so walked home, and there supped together, and then Michell and Betty home, and I to my closet, there to read and agree upon my vows for next year, and so to bed and slept mighty well.

a dull anger made
a dull sun

we were together
you an excellent frost
I a great fire

and the street was
a bride’s closet

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 6 January 1667.

Sweeping the Rain

There were no armoires there anymore,
no libraries of dust competing with
the weave of cotton; no scroll-
backed chairs resting like guests
at a garden party organized for you
years ago, to which no child
had been invited. Water moved
through the pipes like an unmarried
aunt taking her time, sweeping
the rain with a broom fashioned from
a handful of sticks; every excess
dumped from the heavens must be
carefully tended. When the sky
filled with sand, it was
the volcano waking up, finally
able to sing the song stuck
in its throat for decades. This
is how you know the dead
still love you. They have not
forgotten. They will take you back.


At the office all the morning, thinking at noon to have been taken home, and my wife (according to appointment yesterday), by my Lord Bruncker, to dinner and then to a play, but he had forgot it, at which I was glad, being glad of avoyding the occasion of inviting him again, and being forced to invite his doxy, Mrs. Williams. So home, and took a small snap of victuals, and away, with my wife, to the Duke’s house, and there saw “Mustapha,” a most excellent play for words and design as ever I did see. I had seen it before but forgot it, so it was wholly new to me, which is the pleasure of my not committing these things to my memory. Home, and a little to the office, and then to bed, where I lay with much pain in my head most of the night, and very unquiet, partly by my drinking before I went out too great a draught of sack, and partly my eyes being still very sore.

o ox
so small a word
for so much quiet
part draft
part ore

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 5 January 1667.

On Light: Clear, and Shackled

Last night's rain gleams dully in patches
on the tarmac, where planes come and go

like fleets of birds with cargo heavy in
their bellies; and motorized lorries wait

to unload all the luggage we carry
with us to varied destinations—

On the flight I took, hundreds of men,
some young, most in middle age, returning

from brief visits home to family; now,
again en route to Doha or Dubai where

they work all year to send remittances
back for their children's education,

house repair, a daughter's wedding,
a funeral, a sister's surgery. Let no one

say we didn't do whatever it took to lift
our own from life mired in the quicksands

of debt and penury, from the thousand
ways circumstance passes for fate

because you can't afford to buy
a ticket out of your history of

disasters. Waiting at yet another
terminal for the next connection,

observe how even light laminates
and crackles; how it oils surfaces

puddling in the pass of bodies
more sleekly fueled, rather than

passing cleanly through. Impediment—
from Latin, impedire: literally meaning

to shackle the feet. Who or what takes
such pleasure from cleaning a plate

of glass to sterile transparency, so small
creatures mistake the gleam for opening,

so the joy of its sighting is swiftly
cut by the ripples their bodies make?