An old feeling, carried through the years

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            with what you thought was certainty.
                          One day, it just happens—the tether

loosens. The habit of always looking
            back gives way to a resignation.
                          The poets still sing of great,

unquenchable loves; of a city 
            lost in mist that the fragrance of
                          a single peach on a table could evoke. 

The boat cannot find its way 
           back to that current. Another love 
                         beckons, another love holds you here.

Never say diary

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Up, and to my office, there to set my journal for all the last week, and so by water to Westminster to the Exchequer, and thence to the Swan, and there drank and did baiser la fille there, and so to the New Exchange and paid for some things, and so to Hercules Pillars, and there dined all alone, while I sent my shoe to have the heel fastened at Wotton’s, and thence to White Hall to the Treasury chamber, where did a little business, and thence to the Duke of York’s playhouse and there met my wife and Deb. and Mary Mercer and Batelier, where also W. Hewer was, and saw “Hamlet,” which we have not seen this year before, or more; and mightily pleased with it; but, above all, with Betterton, the best part I believe, that ever man acted. Thence to the Fayre, and saw “Polichinelle,” and so home, and after a little supper to bed. This night lay the first night in Deb.’s chamber, which is now hung with that that hung our great chamber, and is now a very handsome room. This day Mrs. Batelier did give my wife a mighty pretty Spaniel bitch [Flora], which she values mightily, and is pretty; but as a new comer, I cannot be fond of her.

my journal is a lone shoe
a little wife
a better ever after
to which I bitch

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 31 August 1668

The Turning

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It will rain and rain again
and we will think 
there'll be no end to it

it will turn cold and night
will fall faster 
than the light can catch it

or it will cycle between 
heat and uncertainty
before climbing walls of fog

it will spare no branch
no seedling 
nor hollowed tuft in the field

it will take with a mouth
hungry for every plot
brillianced with green

it will leave us messages 
in stone written by blue-
tongued skinks 


Robin Hoodlum

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(Lord’s day). Walked to St. James’s and Pell Mell, and read over, with Sir W. Coventry, my long letter to the Duke of York, and which the Duke of York hath, from mine, wrote to the Board, wherein he is mightily pleased, and I perceive do put great value upon me, and did talk very openly on all matters of State, and how some people have got the bit into their mouths, meaning the Duke of Buckingham and his party, and would likely run away with all. But what pleased me mightily was to hear the good character he did give of my Lord Falmouth for his generosity, good-nature, desire of public good, and low thoughts of his own wisdom; his employing his interest in the King to do good offices to all people, without any other fault than the freedom he do learn in France of thinking himself obliged to serve his King in his pleasures: and was W. Coventry’s particular friend: and W. Coventry do tell me very odde circumstances about the fatality of his death, which are very strange.
Thence to White Hall to chapel, and heard the anthem, and did dine with the Duke of Albemarle in a dirty manner as ever. All the afternoon, I sauntered up and down the house and Park. And there was a Committee for Tangier met, wherein Lord Middleton would, I think, have found fault with me for want of coles; but I slighted it, and he made nothing of it, but was thought to be drunk; and I see that he hath a mind to find fault with me and Creed, neither of us having yet applied ourselves to him about anything: but do talk of his profits and perquisites taken from him, and garrison reduced, and that it must be increased, and such things, as; I fear, he will be just such another as my Lord Tiviott and the rest, to ruin that place. So I to the Park, and there walk an hour or two; and in the King’s garden, and saw the Queen and ladies walk; and I did steal some apples off the trees; and here did see my Lady Richmond, who is of a noble person as ever I saw, but her face worse than it was considerably by the smallpox: her sister is also very handsome.
Coming into the Park, and the door kept strictly, I had opportunity of handing in the little, pretty, squinting girl of the Duke of York’s house, but did not make acquaintance with her; but let her go, and a little girl that was with her, to walk by themselves.
So to White Hall in the evening, to the Queen’s side, and there met the Duke of York; and he did tell me and W. Coventry, who was with me, how that Lord Anglesey did take notice of our reading his long and sharp letter to the Board; but that it was the better, at least he said so. The Duke of York, I perceive, is earnest in it, and will have good effects of it; telling W. Coventry that it was a letter that might have come from the Commissioners of Accounts, but it was better it should come first from him. I met Lord Brouncker, who, I perceive, and the rest, do smell that it comes from me, but dare not find fault with it; and I am glad of it, it being my glory and defence that I did occasion and write it.
So by water home, and did spend the evening with W. Hewer, telling him how we are all like to be turned out, Lord Brouncker telling me this evening that the Duke of Buckingham did, within few hours, say that he had enough to turn us all out which I am not sorry for at all, for I know the world will judge me to go for company; and my eyes are such as I am not able to do the business of my Office as I used, and would desire to do, while I am in it. So with full content, declaring all our content in being released of my employment, my wife and I to bed, and W. Hewer home, and so all to bed.

open mouths
like offices of Death

talk of profits
taken from us

so I steal some apples
off the trees

hand them out
to any and to all

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 30 August 1668

No Existing Record

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Where are you if we can't find proof of your 
existence as civil servant? Not even an index 
card in a filing cabinet, not one yellowing record 
with nearly unreadable letters stuck in a box, 
somewhere in the basement of the City Hall? 
The clerks say it's because it was the time before 
digitization, before computerized filing; when 
sheaves of paper were tied with twine or organized 
with rubber bands: A-E under a moldy pipe, F-J 
by the water heater. All the men who knew you 
or were your friends are dead now too—what 
is death if not the last repository, safety 
deposit box without a key, without a combination;
held inside some depthless vault we can't imagine? 

What writers do

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Up, and all the morning at the Office, where the Duke of York’s long letter was read, to their great trouble, and their suspecting me to have been the writer of it. And at noon comes, by appointment, Harris to dine with me and after dinner he and I to Chyrurgeon’s-hall, where they are building it new, very fine; and there to see their theatre; which stood all the fire, and, which was our business, their great picture of Holben’s, thinking to have bought it, by the help of Mr. Pierce, for a little money: I did think to give 200l. for it, it being said to be worth 1000l.; but it is so spoiled that I have no mind to it, and is not a pleasant, though a good picture. Thence carried Harris to his playhouse, where, though four o’clock, so few people there at “The Impertinents,” as I went out; and do believe they did not act, though there was my Lord Arlington and his company there. So I out, and met my wife in a coach, and stopped her going thither to meet me; and took her, and Mercer, and Deb., to Bartholomew Fair, and there did see a ridiculous, obscene little stage-play, called “Marry Andrey;” a foolish thing, but seen by every body; and so to Jacob Hall’s dancing of the ropes; a thing worth seeing, and mightily followed, and so home and to the office, and then to bed. Writing to my father to-night not to unfurnish our house in the country for my sister, who is going to her own house, because I think I may have occasion myself to come thither; and so I do, by our being put out of the Office, which do not at all trouble me to think of.

to write is an urge
to heat fire

I think for money
but it is not pleasant

so out I go dancing
to unfurnish myself

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 29 August 1668


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"...Beautiful, unanswerable questions."
                           ~ Carl Sandburg

Days hiccup, alternate: you wake  
           one day and maybe you think it's 
such an unexceptional day. Or maybe
           it feels indeterminate, like standing
in the musty lobby of a nondescript motel,
           no longer recalling how you got 
there. Maybe it's like the back corridor 
           of the Planned Parenthood clinic,
walls painted chalky gray, when 
           in your late forties, you held a test 
stick in your fingers and watched
           a second evap line turn dark 
pink  in the window. A group of pious 
           protesters stood in tight semicircle 
near the exit, singing hymns, amazing
           something; chanting and chanting
their holier-than-thou.  Did they 
           never feel their bodies 
could play tricks on them—pull out 
           from a hidden shelf a seed 
that thought it might flower like campion
           dug out of the permafrost?  But 
before you could make your return
            appointment, while in the shower  
a glistening knob of tissue unfastened,
            slid out. Loosened whorl, small 
bud you palmed from wet tile:
            how the body recognized
the feel of a suddenly empty room.


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Busy at the office till toward 10 o’clock, and then by water to White Hall, where attending the Council’s call all the morning with Lord Brouncker, W. Pen, and the rest, about the business of supernumeraries in the fleete, but were not called in. But here the Duke of York did call me aside, and told me that he must speak with me in the afternoon, with Mr. Wren, for that now he hath got the paper from my Lord Keeper about the exceptions taken against the management of the Navy; and so we are to debate upon answering them. At noon I home with W. Coventry to his house; and there dined with him, and talked freely with him; and did acquaint him with what I have done, which he is well pleased with, and glad of: and do tell me that there are endeavours on foot to bring the Navy into new, but, he fears, worse hands. After much talk with great content with him, I walked to the Temple, and staid at Starky’s, my bookseller’s (looking over Dr. Heylin’s new book of the Life of Bishop Laud, a strange book of the Church History of his time), till Mr. Wren comes, and by appointment we to the Atturney General’s chamber, and there read and heard the witnesses in the business of Ackeworth, most troublesome and perplexed by the counter swearing of the witnesses one against the other, and so with Mr. Wren away thence to St. [James’s] for his papers, and so to White Hall, and after the Committee was done at the Council chamber about the business of Supernumeraries, wherein W. Pen was to do all and did, but like an ignorant illiterate coxcomb, the Duke of York fell to work with us, the Committee being gone, in the Council-chamber; and there, with his own hand, did give us his long letter, telling us that he had received several from us, and now did give us one from him, taking notice of our several duties and failures, and desired answer to it, as he therein desired; this pleased me well; and so fell to other business, and then parted. And the Duke of York, and Wren, and I, it being now candle-light, into the Duke of York’s closet in White Hall; and there read over this paper of my Lord Keeper’s, wherein are laid down the faults of the Navy, so silly, and the remedies so ridiculous, or else the same that are now already provided, that we thought it not to need any answer, the Duke of York being able himself to do it: that so it makes us admire the confidence of these men to offer things so silly, in a business of such moment. But it is a most perfect instance of the complexion of the times! and so the Duke of York said himself, who, I perceive, is mightily concerned in it, and do, again and again, recommend it to Mr. Wren and me together, to consider upon remedies fit to provide for him to propound to the King, before the rest of the world, and particularly the Commissioners of Accounts, who are men of understanding and order, to find our faults, and offer remedies of their own, which I am glad of, and will endeavour to do something in it. So parted, and with much difficulty, by candle-light, walked over the Matted Gallery, as it is now with the mats and boards all taken up, so that we walked over the rafters. But strange to see what hard matter the plaister of Paris is, that is there taken up, as hard as stone! And pity to see Holben’s work in the ceiling blotted on, and only whited over! Thence; with much ado, by several coaches home, to supper and to bed. My wife having been this day with Hales, to sit for her hand to be mended, in her picture.

out me on paper
from the Book of Life

point and swear
like a one-hand answer to candle light

it is not complex
remedies offer remedies of their own

we walk over rafters
to see the ceiling

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 28 August 1668

Full Moon

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Sometimes a pearly
brightness outlines each 
dusty blade of the blinds, 
deep in the night, as though 
from a floodlight. Of course
it's only the moon, which 
cycles again from its first
slivered form to this  
fullness—even if you
remain asleep, it sieves
through darkness 
the way a feeling 
like happiness 
might touch
everything in its way;
the way a fever runs
its course and 
finally breaks.


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Knepp home with us, and I to bed, and rose about six, mightily pleased with last night’s mirth, and away by water to St. James’s, and there, with Mr. Wren, did correct his copy of my letter, which the Duke of York hath signed in my very words, without alteration of a syllable. And so pleased therewith, I to my Lord Brouncker, who I find within, but hath business, and so comes not to the Office to-day. And so I by water to the Office, where we sat all the morning; and, just as the Board rises, comes the Duke of York’s letter, which I knowing, and the Board not being full, and desiring rather to have the Duke of York deliver it himself to us, I suppressed it for this day, my heart beginning to falsify in this business, as being doubtful of the trouble it may give me by provoking them; but, however, I am resolved to go through it, and it is too late to help it now. At noon to dinner to Captain Cocke’s, where I met with Mr. Wren; my going being to tell him what I have done, which he likes, and to confer with Cocke about our Office; who tells me that he is confident the design of removing our Officers do hold, but that he is sure that I am safe enough. Which pleases me, though I do not much shew it to him, but as a thing indifferent. So away home, and there met at Sir Richard Ford’s with the Duke of York’s Commissioners about our Prizes, with whom we shall have some trouble before we make an end with them, and hence, staying a little with them, I with my wife, and W. Batelier, and Deb.; carried them to Bartholomew Fayre, where we saw the dancing of the ropes and nothing else, it being late, and so back home to supper and to bed, after having done at my office.

mirth and words alter
who I find within

my heart beginning to falsify
what I have done

like moving to a different home
and a hard bed

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 27 August 1668